A local man who launched his musical career by banging on an empty can of lard with two sticks is being inducted into the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame.
Windred Reeves, 60, received the news while playing drums on a recent Friday night at the Margie Weaver Senior Center.
I about had a heart attack, he said. Then I went around and just hugged everybody. I was so humbled. It is such an honor.
The Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame was founded in 1982 by Phyllis Cole and Fiddlin Johnny Carson to preserve Georgias rich music heritage and history and to honor people and organizations for the outstanding contributions to the music industry.
Reeves, a Dawsonville native and self-taught musician, has played drums more than 40 years. His repertoire of credits include being the opening act for country music giant Conway Twitty, and gigs with Herb Thomas and the Kinsey Raiders, Kings Mountain Band of Cumming, and Michael Waller of Dawsonville.
As a youngster, Reeves was so good at playing the lard can, his parents friends stopped by the house to listen.
At one point, my daddy and mama got so embarrassed every time I pulled out my green lard can that Daddy went and bought me a real set of drums, Reeves said. But, I have to tell you, I didnt mind that lard can. I took Mamas green polish and painted the top. It sounded kind of like a snare drums. But Daddy hated that.
Reeves mother, Bernice Reeves, worked at the Dawson County Health Department 15 years. His father, Gene, was a hog farmer.
My daddy could build anything, a barn, a house, whatever we needed, Reeves fondly remembered. I was really lucky. He made the parts that held my drums together.
Reeves lost his father in 1992 and his mother in 2011.
I sure wish they could see me now, he said.
Reeves once played at the Covered Wagon near the corner of Peachtree Street and 10th Street in Atlanta.
Paul Aiken remembered me, Reeves said. Aiken serves on the board of the music hall of fame.
Hes a real nice fellow, and I liked playing at his place a lot.
Inspiration for Reeves came from watching the Dolly Parton Show.
I think thats when I started lovin country music, he said.
But the lard can mans musical talents span not only country, but also classic rock, and blues.
Winfred has perfect timing, said Michael Waller, owner of Pick N Grin Music in downtown Dawsonville. Hes a musicians musician. One of the things I appreciate most about him is his hospitality. Anytime somebody wants to play music, we just show up at his house. And even though hes shorter than everybody, we all look up to him.
Reeves talks openly about being born with cerebral palsy.
At birth, I weighed 3.2 pounds, he said. The doctors thought they was sending me home to die, but I proved them all wrong.
He wore leg braces until he was 18.
I had it kind of rough growing up, and music was my outlet, Reeves said. I dont know what I wouldve done without it. I never dreamed Id be in a music hall of fame. I just like to play and make people happy.
Sandy Bryan is one of those people.
Ive never heard anybody play drums like that before, Bryan said while listening Friday night at the senior center. Ithink hes great. Hes always happy.
Reeves said he would like to thank Johnny and Janice Thomas, John Armstrong, Phyllis Cole, and Paul Aiken for helping him get into the hall of fame. He also thanked long-time girlfriend Kay Burton. Weve been together 16 years so its like were married. She does all the hard work.
The 33rd annual Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame Awards ceremony is Saturday, Nov. 29. It is an invitation-only event.