Joe Giles: Man of Many Roles

Joe Giles: Man of Many Roles

Staff Photo Nick Brothers
Joe Giles (center) sings alongside Johnny Arredondo (left) and Russ Hutchinson (right), his bandmates in Joe Giles and the Homewreckers, at the George’s Majestic Lounge happy hour Friday, March 6.

Joe Giles, 64, of Prairie Grove, Ark., is a man who has worn a lot of “hats” throughout his lifetime.

Most notably, the “hat” he’s most known for is the one he wears as the executive director of Bikes, Blues and Barbecue — one of the biggest charity motorcycle rallies in the United States hosted in Fayetteville.

This past Friday at George’s Majestic Lounge, Giles wore a different hat. He had on a black fedora. He was busy working as the frontman of his long running blues and classic rock band, Joe Giles and the Homewreckers.

The band was playing the famous George’s Friday happy hour from 6 to 8 p.m. There wasn’t a person under 35 in sight, but the crowd acted as young as any crowd an act like The Floozies might bring in. Giles was front stage and center on the big garden room stage, movin’ to the groovin’ and clapping along to the beat while his band played Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music.”

The song had everyone up on the dance floor. While strutting around the stage with jaunty energy as he sang the song, the big chorus came, and Giles shouted out, “Play that funky music, whiiiite boy — that’s me!”

The crowd pumped their fists, hoot and hollered and danced with their sweethearts like they were teenagers again.

The entertainer role — or hat if you will — is something Giles has worn his entire life, and it was easy to see how comfortable he was at the center of attention. It’s something he’s done for 50 years, whether on stage, or in a classroom. Before he was organizing Bikes, Blues and Barbecue, fronting the Homewreckers, he was a public school teacher for 16 years, an elementary school principal for 12 years, a volunteer football and soccer coach, farmer and even a radio DJ for two months.


Born on a cattle farm in Farmington, Ark., the future director of Bikes, Blues and Barbecue got his first Harley Davidson motorcycle when he was 14. He’s been a rider ever since. Growing up, there wasn’t much to do in Farmington. He and his friends would ride up to Fayetteville instead, where they’d go to the old bowling alley on College Avenue or the drive-in theater, but they were too afraid to go to Dickson back then, he said.

While attending Farmington High School, Giles was a part of the school six piece jazz band, which was more of a rock n’ roll band. His first paid gig came from a church dance when he was 14, and it was just $15 for the whole band. His senior year, he snuck in to see Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks in Fayetteville — something he was so excited about he barely remembers going.

Giles graduated from Farmington High School with a class of about 27 people, and soon attended Arkansas Tech, where he pursued a degree in English.

“I love words,” Giles said. “I was the kid that would stay up until midnight every night reading comic books. I loved the language. I love grammar — hell, nobody likes grammar for Pete’s sake.”

After graduating from Arkansas Tech, Giles got a job as a disc jockey at the local radio station, KKAE. That didn’t last long though. He got fired from the job after two months for having to fill in for a midnight DJ and falling asleep after putting a long play record on.


Giles started teaching in 1973 in Stuttgart for a year and a half, and eventually settled in Prairie Grove as a junior high English teacher for 12 years, and 16 years as the principal at the elementary school.

“There’s nothing better than being a principal at an elementary school,” Giles said. “You walk down the hallway and all the kids want to hug you, it’s the coolest thing. Except on pizza day, it’s not really cool.”

After finding many kids weren’t reading well, Giles decided to pursue a masters at the University of Arkansas as a reading specialist. After returning to public school teaching, he took on teaching social studies along with English to teach more students and help their reading.

“I just loved being a teacher,” Giles said. “I really like kids. I don’t love kids, though. I’d get teachers saying ‘Oh I love kids,’ and I’d tell them I’ve got four right here that you don’t love. (laughs) They’re still children though, and they deserve the best possible chance in life they can have.

“Quite frankly, for a lot of those kids, school was their best chance for success. Maybe home life wasn’t so great, but when they walked into my building or classroom, they had a better chance than if they didn’t. That was extremely important to me.”

The Hard Tops, Homewreckers and Bikes Blues and BBQ

In 1989, music entertainment became a full-time profession for Giles when he formed up The Hard Tops with his friends and played the drums. The band played a lot of R&B, pop, and classic rock as well as many Dilbert McClinton songs. The band enjoyed a lot of popularity alongside The Cate Brothers and Oreo Blue.

“I’m a real mediocre drummer,” Giles said. “I’m not kidding when I say I’m marginally talented at best. I have no talent, and I make no bones about that.”

After going on and off with The Hard Tops for several years, Giles formed the Homewreckers in 1999, and the band can still be seen playing at clubs like George’s and Jose’s today.

Having been an attendee to Bikes Blues and BBQ long before becoming associated with it, Giles’ first role with the rally was being the emcee for the Babe Contest. Eventually, he became the emcee for the entire festival and helped book music acts.

Giles’ best friend was the executive director of the rally until 2011, and when he left the rally Giles’ involvement helped him fill in the role. He’s been happily operating it as a “glorified beer salesman” since 2012, and resides in Prairie Grove with his wife, Jenny Disney.

Categories: Music