Tim Duffy, Guitar Gabriel, Captain Luke, 1991
Guitar Gabriel loved to celebrate and I always loved to see him at holidays. When the Christmas season came around I would always run into Gabe dressed in his wonderful green and red plaid suit, his powder blue tuxedo, or his long fringe leather jacket and studded blue jeans. Of course, he was also always wearing his beloved white fuzzy fur hat. The fun part was this was not in the evening; Gabe would be decked out, ready to go at 8am. I would usually catch up with him on his way to Ezelle’s Drink House. After our first year together, the gigs were good, money was in Gabe’s pockets, and he loved nothing better than to celebrate with his long-time friends.
I will never forget the Christmas Eve when I stopped by Gabe’s house to deliver some delicious food my wife Denise had made. It was early in the day but Gabe had already left. I drove down to Ezelle’s Drink House, there was Gabe dressed to the nines; he had four taxis lined up in front of the Drink House. A motley crew was piling into the cars. When I asked what was going on, Gabe told me that celebrate the holiday he was taking his friends out to visit other Drink Houses in town all day.
After our year of gigging steadily, Gabe was able to pay his monthly expenses and to everyone’s delight (except his wife Dorothy) he was generously sharing his success, setting off on a two-day tour with his old friends celebrating. He said, “Tim, you got to take time and enjoy yourself, you cannot just work all the time. Bye-bye!” He was off! I was exhausted from our recent tour up and down the East Coast so I headed back home to get some rest. I got a call two days later; Gabe needed a ride back home. When I picked him up he was still in the same clothes, looking like and old champ, his eyes weary but seemingly content.
“Gabe, did you have a good Christmas?” I asked. “Tim, I had one helluva time!” he replied. As I carried his guitar and amp up to his house, we could hear a furious Dorothy behind the front door, screaming at Gabe, not unlocking that door anytime soon. Gabe sat down on the stoop, and calmly lit a cigarette. I said, “Bye-bye!”
The Music Maker Relief Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit, was founded to preserve the musical traditions of the South by directly supporting the musicians who make it, ensuring their voices will not be silenced by poverty and time.