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Out West, the city of Joshua Tree, Calif., hosts an annual Gramfest, an all-day affair set at several locations near the Inn. This year's event is scheduled for Sept. 27. Down in Waycross, the sixth annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute is held Sept. 19-20 -- at the Ritz Theatre Friday and at Little Knights Bar Saturday. And fans in Gainesville, Fla., have held their own Gramfest for the last four years. The 2003 Gram Parsons Tribute is scheduled for Nov. 2 on the Downtown Plaza.
This month, Columbia/Legacy Records released a two-CD deluxe edition of Sweetheart of the Rodeo, Parsons' seminal work with the Byrds. Included on the second disc are six rare cuts from Parsons' earlier group, the International Submarine Band, as well as 14 unreleased alternative tracks from the Sweetheart sessions.
The tributes, festivals and reissues validate the relevance of Gram Parsons' music today. One can only wonder, "What if?"
"What I hear is how many musicians talk about his influence," says Kaufman. "It might be the Eagles, Uncle Tupelo or BR549. Some of them write songs and then acknowledge Gram's influence on their work. I am curious about what would have happened to him musically if he had lived.
"If he had just stayed away from Keith, I would probably have known."
Holly George-Warren figures it all happened just as it was supposed to. "His own particular life -- which was a Southern gothic kind of tragic tale -- completely colored his music and his world view as one of loss and abandonment," she says. "He associated the sad, lonesome sounds of Hank Williams and George Jones with that kind of emotion that was the major aspect of his childhood. He lived his life like it was a country song."
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