Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Man Of The Highway: Jeff Chapman Pays Tribute to a Friend...

A few months back, a gentleman named Greg McCray passed away, following a lengthy and tough battle with cancer.  Though I didn't know him personally, he was something of a local celebrity in the little town I’m from, Greenville, IL.  Greg was a well-known stock car driver and he touched the lives of many around him.

I never met Greg personally, but we had several mutual friends.  One of them is my blues brother, Big Jeff Chapman (Chappy).  He’s been a guest on my Dirty Roots Radio Show frequently and if you’ve listened in with any kind of frequency, you’ve probably heard me sharing some of his original blues tunes on-air.

(photo by Corey Woodruff, courtesy of Jeff Chapman)

One night a few weeks back, fairly soon after Greg passed, I was hosting the show and Chappy told me he’d recorded a new song, “Man of the Highway”; a tribute to Greg.  He’d also created a video to go along with it.  I played it on the air without having heard it in advance, and was blown away.

The song was recorded by another good friend of this show, Ian Baird, at his studio, Arjuna's Soundroom.

I wanted to share it again because it’s just that good.  And you, like me, might not have known Greg, but A) a good song is a good song, regardless of whether you know the subject of it or not, and B) in addition to being blown away by the song, I think you, like me, will be touched by the obvious impact that Greg McCray had on those around him.

I asked Chappy to share a little bit about the song.  Before I share the video, I’ll let him explain it…

“Greg was a really good dude and a very close friend.

Wednesday morning I got the news that he had passed.

I didn't plan to write a song, I just felt like taking out some pain on my guitar.  All these thoughts and memories kinda gushed out so I scribbled them down.  About ten minutes passed and there it was.

When my wife came home, she read the words and said this is very good he would be proud.

Then I thought I'd see if Ian would let me record it to share with Greg's family.  He was more than happy to squeeze me in.  By the time Friday came around, I got the idea to use a bunch of pics for that video tribute set to the song.  Ian took care of all that as well. (He’s a good dude, too)

Greg had asked for my brother and me to perform "Call Me The Breeze" at his funeral.  His sisters and daughter decided to also include the recorded "Man of the Highway" at the beginning of the service.

There were memorials read from Greg's daughter and three and each of those had parts that I had written in the song. That made me feel proud; I had gotten it right for him and them as well.

Ian said that song was meant to be.”

If you're interested in information about the music of my pal Big Jeff Chapman, drop me a line and I'll either get you the info, or put you in touch with him directly.  He has several albums out and a great new album on the way soon.  

Tune in to Dirty Roots Radio every Thursday night from 8 to 10 p.m. (central) at www.wgrn.net.


  1. What a great article! Jeff Chapman did a great job with this song, I love the message that is in it! Being one of Greg’s sisters, I am very proud of this tribute! Chappy and his Brother Jerry, have played a special role in our family. Thank you, Ian, for taking time out of your busy schedule to put this together. It will always be very dear to all of us. Thank you Dirty Roots Radio for posting this article! It is always a nice reminder of what an awesome guy Greg was. Thanks again to all of you!

    1. Thanks for your kind words - it means a lot coming from Greg's family! My part was easy, though. Your brother did the biggest part, being such a great guy and touching so many. Ian and Chappy had the hard parts. I'll make sure they see your comments.

  2. Good Job Chappy and Ian! Makes me tear up every time I hear it and see the pictures! RIP Goob, my friend and classmate. We will have a toast in your honor ( prolly more than one) at the next class reunion! renchjjj@bellsouth.net