Monday, May 1, 2023

Guest Author Paul Gamble--Storyteller, Documentary Photographer, Historian, Musician and More!



Guest Author Paul Gamble-- Documentary Photographer, 
Historian, Musician and Storyteller

by Dana Koogler 

May 1, 2023 

with Paul Gamble telling his own stories as a Guest Author. 

Photographs on here are not mine, but those of Paul, Shawn and Amanda Gamble.

  My friend Paul Gamble is what I call " a hoss among men".   He is a leader, not a follower.  

Above is a photo of Paul with wife Shawn and daughter Amanda.  They are a great looking, fun family of fine people!  

      About a decade ago I used Flickr photo a fair amount.   I still do, but not like I did.    One of my contacts on there was Natedawg.  aka Nathan Yarbrough  Once I started using Facebook I found him  there, and that he had a good group for the Cherokee National Forest.    He suggested to me that there was a man and a family Kenny and I needed to get to know.  Paul Gamble.  Nate explained that he had a feeling we'd hit it off really well.   I took him at his word and looked up Paul finding him on Facebook as well.  It is funny how a seemingly minor thing can make such a change in one's life.    Nate turned out to be more than a little right.   Paul and his whole family are great people.   We do have a lot in common. I tell him we are siblings and that one of us got dropped at the wrong house by the stork.   He shares many similarities with me.  

  • He was raised country as cornbread
  • He values strong family ties
  • He loves history and documenting it. 
  • He is a little sentimental
  • He has a wicked sense of humor and a strong sense of the ridiculous.
  • He pisses people off from time to time for no apparent reason aside from the fact he exists.  I have had the dubious distinction to be able to do that for many years.  I see him on a streak of it and I have to laugh cause I know he really doesn't care nor does he understand anymore than I do what sets folks off?
  • He has a love for photography and outdoors
  • He enjoys the simple pleasures in life
  • He has a real zest for life 
  • He loves music of all kinds like I do, but he knows, appreciates and plays Honky Tonk music.  

  Paul is a native Tennessean born and raised in The Knobs down around Chestuee Creek. 

He met and married his wife Shawn at a fairly young age.   They have a long, happy marriage and one beautiful, talented daughter Amanda.   They like history, photography, critters, travel and are quiet, intelligent people.   Paul has been among other things:

an EMT, fireman, policeman, documentary photographer, hiking guide,historian and musician. 

His music making days and days as an EMT yielded some particularly dramatic, funny stories. 

He agreed some time back to be a guest author on my blog.   I am just now getting it together to write it up.   I warn you... do NOT have anything in your mouth when you read this or need to go to the bathroom. You will laugh so hard you'll wet your pants or get choked!  I could not stop laughing when I read this. Everyone in my family I've read it to has died laughing over it! 

Below is a photo I took of the outside of Marie's County Line Tavern. It is open to this day and much more refined than in the past.  Marie has persisted in the business world and it paid off!   It is better than ever.  It was closed the time I took this, but I hope to go visit myself and experience it! 

Paul's Story in His Own Words

Ok, some folks wanted to hear some stories about my days in the music business. I'll tell you one or two, both of 'em happened at this place, the County Line Tavern on the Monroe/McMinn County Line. I played at this place off and on for about 20 years I guess and enjoyed every minute of it. I seen a bunch of things that, unless you was a regular in a fine establishment such as this, you wouldn't believe it. But I promise you, these two events really happened and I was standing on the stage with a guitar around my neck when both things happened.
In it's early days, the County Line was one of them places you'd be wise to throw your hat in the door before you went in. Stabbings, fights, and a couple of killings happened down there, but later it quietened down.
Anyways we was up onstage one Saturday night playing and it was just one of them nights that was like that Phil Collins song--"I can feel it coming in the air tonight". The atmosphere was feeling like something was fixin' to break loose, and damn if it didn't.
They was a man and a lady settin' at a table just inside the door, and they'd been a-fussin' all night. Marie, the owner, had called them down a time or two. But the man was lit, and he was feelin' ten feet tall and bulletproof.
Finally the lady had enough and she got up and walked over to the pay phone--you heard me right!--and was fixin' to call and get somebody to come and pick her up. I was fixin' to count off the intro to the next song when we heard a loud crash. We spun around just in time to see this lady go flying across this round table that was next to the phone.
The man had throwed her across the table and he grabbed her by the hair and drug her out into the parking lot. We throwed our guitars down and ran towards the door.
As we got to the door we heard a noise like you wouldn't believe, and seen a sight that I can still after 20 some odd years can still see (and hear).
Marie had a blond barmaid working there and she was about 6 feet tall and big boned and really pretty--I guess you could call her a Amazon woman. She had run outside and grabbed that man--and I'm a-tellin' the truth if I ever told it--and picked him up nearly over her head.
She slammed him down in that gravel parking lot and I mean to tell you, she like to beat that sucker half to death. And she wasn't slapping him, she was using her fists. He was screaming: "Somebody help me! She's trying to kill me!"
We just propped up on the side of the building and watched.
As for the lady, Marie got her back in the building and it blowed our mind because she was wearing a white outfit, and after all that they wasn't a speck of dirt nowheres on her!
The old boy spent the night with the jailer.
Ok, number 2--We was onstage playing a number called "John Law Burned the Liquor Store" and they was this ole gal and I mean brother she was lit up like a Roman candle!
She jumped out of her chair and screamed "Hell yeah" at the top of her lungs--she was right in front of the stage--and all the sudden her eyes rolled back in her head and she fell backwards.
Her head hit that concrete floor and her feet went up to where she almost looked like she was standing on her head for a minute before she fell back down, out like a light.
Her boyfriend or whatever he was looked like he was about to melt with embarrassment, but he grabbed her up like a sack of taters and slung her over his shoulder and headed towards the door, while the crowd was roaring with laughter.
Our bass player leaned into his microphone and hollered: "Y'all come back now!"
That's just an example of what I witnessed in the bars over the years. Hope you liked it

Paul shown above in full regalia... a Nudi shirt and cowboy hat. Wow! What a handsome guy! 

Above are some of the best images I collected of Paul in his music making mode!  Good looking as well as talented. He's taken ladies. Been off the menu for a long time thanks to Shawn. She is movie star pretty, but modest as they come! 

Above: Paul in outdoor mode.. Action Jackson on rope! 

Below: one of Paul's artistic photos. Amanda in a plague doctor mask at the old Doc Rogers Hospital ruins in Coker Creek.   Sepia tone!  

Above: a photo of Paul, Shawn, (center) and Amanda -- far right.. with a selfie stick 

Amanda is a talented documentary photographer, writer, historian, videographer, in her own right.

She's pretty like her mama, tough like her daddy as well as outdoorsy and creative!   An irresistible combination. 

Below is Paul's photo of the old homestead at Ballplay.  I loved this spot so much and his photo of it I am painting a picture using this as inspiration. This done with his approval.  

Below is the painting, but I have done more on it since this was taken. 

Above: Paul decked out and playing music much like he must have been the night the bar maid saved the damsel in distress!  

I will forever appreciate these crazy stories, honky tonk music, bluegrass, and country.   I watched Ken Burn's History of Country Music documentary.  The episode about Hank Williams was fascinating.  By the end of it something unexpected happened.   I was crying.  Watching it unlocked memories buried inside me of various things that went on as a kid.   I will forever appreciate Miss Audrey and Hank Williams with their loving, fighting and struggles.  My family lived that life.   My grandfather and grandmother .. my mom's parents were just like that.   Music, dance  halls, drinking, fighting, falling out, making up...

Unless you've lived it or been affected by it close to home you can't understand it.

Edited to Add: I wanted to go visit Marie's County line Tavern before I wrote this blog entry.  I hit up my friend John Quillen on the Instagram messenger. I  wanted to aggravate him a little bit. I asked him if he wanted to go to a dive bar with me. (He is a drug and alcohol counselor, and Marie's is not really a dive bar). He told me "No, but I will save you an appointment for when you end up in JAIL!" 

Now that's a good friend right there, but Paul would be a better friend cause he'd be a settin in the cell right next to me. 

Finally I leave you with a video of one of the musical numbers Paul and his musician friends were playing when this stuff took place.   John Law Burned Down the Liquor Store!

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