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A Taste of the South Barbecue, Ice Cream & Ole Time MUSICIAN, TEACHER, ENTREPRENEUR...BYRON JEFFERS IS NOT FFERS EANS PROVIDING TY. AFRAID TO TAKE A CHANCE ESPECIALLY WHEN IT MEANS SOMETHING GREAT FOR HIS COMMUNITY. tBY TERI R. WILLIAMS | PHOTOS BY DAPHNE WALKER he first thing I noticed when I walked into Lottie’s Pocket was Byron’s guitar. In an instant, my my mind went went back to the summer of 2005 when Byron played “Sweet Home Alabama” in a bar in Serbia.bia. I I was was there there to lead lead a worship conference, and Byron was the electric guitar player. After a long flight, the he Serbian pastor, Radovan Radovan Bogdanovic, informed me that he had us booked to play in several bars in between the the church meetings. He With a bad of jet me figured it was a great opportunity for outreach. Our first gig was on the night we arrived. With a bad case of jet lag, we set up our instruments in a nice bar in downtown Belgrade. The Serbian pastor assured me that the crowd would like the music even if they didn’t understand the words. After we’d played through every worship song we knew, I turned to Byron. I didn’t know ow what to to do do next, but I knew the newly-retired middle school physical education coach knew exactly what to to do. Byron Jeffers had been playing rock ‘n’ roll in bars across South Georgia since the mid-60s.0s. When he he hit the first riff of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” the room came alive. Everyone one started singing as they moved closer to the stage. For the record, there’s nothing quite like hearing ng “Sweet Home Alabama” sung in a Serbian accent, but I learned something from Byron that day that hat I’ve never forgotten: Evangelism without connection is just words in a foreign language. And there’s nothing quite like good ole Southern rock ‘n’ roll for bridging the gap. That was over 10 years ago, and Byron is still playing with the “praise band” at River of Life Outreach, and Southern rock ‘n’ roll every chance he gets. Since December 2015, he’s added dded cooking BBQ to his repertoire of expertise. It might have seemed a risky venture to some, but my friend Byron had two very logical reasons for opening Lottie’s Pocket in Johnson Corner. The first rst was was to do something for his son Seth. “He doesn’t get the opportunity to make an identity for himself in this world like the rest of us,” explained Byron. “This is a way I can give that to him.” Now 38 years old, Seth’s mental and physical disabilities limit him in many ways, but not his understanding of how proud his father is of him. “We bring him here, and if we have customers when he comes in, I announce, ‘Folks, the owner is in the house.’ He knows this is his place.” The second reason was simply because Byron wanted to do something positive for the community of Johnson Corner, a place his family has called home for three generations. When Byron left Johnson Corner in 1968 to go to college, he didn’t plan to return. He went to Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College two years and then moved to Athens where he graduated from UGA with a degree in health and physical education. “I really liked Athens, but when they offered me a job teaching at an elementary school, I turned it down,” said Byron. “I had it in my head that I didn’t want Rock ‘n’ Roll Hometown Livin g At Its Best 31


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