Whether they are playing southern rock, disco or country, Lynn West and Bob Graham just enjoy playing together, and they have been at it for more than 30 years.
“Some of it is a blur,” West joked.
West and Graham began playing in bands together in 1977. Their first band, “Sugar Daddy,” focused on southern rock, while the later formation of a group known as “Auburn” was all about disco and dance. Other band names included “Hilltop,” “Re-Union,” “X-Treme” and the current, “Buffalo Creek Band.” The duo has gone through so many different bands and combinations of musicians they have trouble keeping track.
“But we have always been the heartbeat,” Graham said.
Graham plays drums, and West is a lead guitarist.
The Buffalo Creek Band, which also includes Michael Brewington, Tommy Brewington and Toby Parker, rehearses at West’s home. Located directly behind the practice drum set is a wall of photos depicting the 30-plus years of playing music and having fun.
Some of the photos are from the very first group — Sugar Daddy — which was managed by Graham’s father — the late Nelson “Nub” Graham.
“We played the Shrine Club circuit,” Bob Graham said. “The Shrine Club; the Elks Club; the Moose Lodge — they all had dances on Friday or Saturday nights.”
“There was always somewhere to go,” West added. “Union was a bigger place to be back then. Something was going on all the time. People were all working and wanted to let loose on the weekends.”
The two also recalled their most successful band venture — the one in which they shook-shook-shook their booties.
“When disco hit, we were on top of it,” West said. “I was making as much money as I was as a carpenter.”
All the musicians in Auburn quit their jobs, got a booking agent and attempted a music career as a disco party band. West described the bus on which they traveled.
“We bought a 1961 Chevy school bus and blacked out the letters to make it say ‘cool bus.’” he laughed. “We didn’t know the State of South Carolina wore it out before we got it. My hands were always dirty because I was the one who worked on the bus.”
Graham said he fondly remembers spending time with all his buddies on the “cool bus.”
“That was the bud hut,” he laughed.
West mentioned a night in which the bus was fully loaded with equipment and people, and all were going down North Carolina’s infamous Saluda Grade with no brakes.
“That was a scary, fun, glad-we-made-it time,” West said. “The windows were down and everyone was yelling, ‘We’re gonna die!’”
West and Graham also laughed about a trip involving numerous Presto Quick Burger hamburger makers.
“We pulled up to a nice hotel in Asheville in a ‘61 school bus,” West said. “They valet parked the bus and even carried our trunks up to the room.”
The trunks contained Vienna sausages, hamburger meat, coolers and cooking utensils.
“Up in the room, we were cooking Presto burgers,” West said. “We had Presto burgers plugged in in the hallway and the bathroom, and we had buns laid out on the bathroom sink. Don Cody did the sound and lights for us, and I can remember him opening the door eating a hamburger and asking what all those people were doing in the conference room across the hall.”
West said smoke was billowing out of the room while Cody questioned those who passed by.
“It turned out they were having an OSHA meeting about fire safety!” he laughed.
Graham mentioned a trip to Savannah, GA in which the ‘cool bus’ had to have a new water pump.
“We had to ride 90 miles to a junkyard,” he said. “We rode around all day and never found it. Finally, when we got back that night, we noticed a junkyard right behind the hotel!”
Even though the two stopped traveling and playing, memories like those have kept them playing locally ever since.
“If I called him and Nancy (West’s wife) answered, or if he called me and whoever I was with answered, they knew it wasn’t about plumbing or carpet,” Graham said. “They knew we were starting a band.”
“A band is like a bad marriage,” West said. “It’s hard enough to get two people’s heads going in the same direction. Five or six people is near impossible.”
West and Graham said they are on the same page most of the time.
“Not a whole lot out there can say they have been together for 30 years,” Graham said. “All he’s gotta do is turn and look at me, and I know what he’s going to do.”
The Buffalo Creek Band will play Monday at the Fourth of July celebration at Buffalo Mill Pond.
Graham says he can’t wait for the performance, and especially looks forward to playing “Play Something Country” by Brooks and Dunn.
“It’s a little funky,” he said. “It will get them dancing.”
The band’s performance is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday.