With the second season of The Bellamy Brothers‘ Honky Tonk Ranch reality show kicking off Feb. 10, the Blake Shelton tour launching on Valentine’s Day and new album Over the Moon out Feb. 15, the brother band is busier than ever.
All that activity isn’t going unnoticed, even among the locals near their Florida ranch. “There’s a convenience store near us with a little deli in the back. I run over there sometimes and grab a sandwich,” David Bellamy tells Billboard. “One day, I got a sandwich and the cashier says, ‘Your money is no good. I need two Blake Shelton tickets!’”
David and brother Howard — who have charted 26 top 10 songs on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, including 10 No. 1s — will join The Voice judge as Shelton’s Friends and Heroes Tour kicks off in Oklahoma City at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. The tour also includes John Anderson, Trace Adkins and Lauren Alaina.
“We were around Blake before he made it,” says Howard. “You always knew there was something special about Blake.”
“We first met Blake at one of the awards shows,” adds David. “It was way before he had a record out. He was running around meeting everybody and he came up and said, ‘I do [Bellamy Brothers’ 1982 No. 1 country hit] “Redneck Girl” in my show every night,’ and I said, ‘We do too, Blake,’” David says, laughing. “I always tell him when we see him, ‘I’ve known you since you had a mullet.’”
The tour bows as the Bellamys launch their new studio album, Over the Moon, on Bellamy Brothers Records. Fans will get their first taste of the project with the single/video “If You Ever Leave,” premiering below. “It’s always hard choosing a first single, but we both like the sound of this track with the 12-string guitars, the harmony and the imagery of the lyrics,” says David. “It reminds us of country rock from the late ’60s.”
The video, directed by Derrek Kupish, includes performance footage filmed in Howard’s barn on their Darby, Fla., ranch, as well as footage Kupish shot at Joshua Tree National Park in California. “We love the video. It includes all of the elements we wanted. It’s a simple performance video, but carries on where the words and music leave off,” says David. “Because the track was musically nostalgic, we thought maybe some images from that era might be nice, and Derrek was heading out west to do some filming so he was able to make the road trip to Joshua Tree and to film the beautiful landscape.”
Produced by David and Howard, along with longtime band member Randy Hiebert, Over the Moon was recorded at the Bellamys’ studio on their Darby ranch. The brothers wrote and recorded 14 new songs for the project. “Somebody mentioned the other day that it must be nice doing a record where you don’t have a record company telling you what songs to record,” Howard grins. “And I said, ‘There is a song on here that you would have never gotten through a record company.’”
He’s referring to “Monkey in the Kitchen,” a funky sitar-saturated tune inspired during one of their international tours. “It actually started in Sri Lanka. There was actually a monkey in the kitchen,” says David. “I love sitar music. I love all that Eastern influence, Ravi Shankar and that stuff. So when we are over there, it’s easy to get inspired.”
The album also includes a humorous look at aging titled “My Body Fell Apart” with a hook that finds Howard singing “Just when I got my mind together, my body fell apart.” “Gambler’s Heart” features David’s sons Jesse and Noah Bellamy and is also included on the younger Bellamys’ Neon Pike album. “Old Dixie Highway” is a nostalgic song about a favorite hangout. “It is about a place we used to go as kids and we’d have mullet fries. It’s still there,” says David.
Howard clarifies, “If you’re not from Florida, everybody thinks of mullet as a hairdo, but it’s a fish. It’s the only fish that has a gizzard, and we were raised on mullet. Our mom would cook it in the yard because it would completely grease up the kitchen.”
Family fun and life on the Bellamys’ Florida homestead is the focal point of their reality show, Honky Tonky Ranch, which kicks off its second season on the Cowboy Channel and RFD Network. “It’s been pretty exciting and a lot of fun doing it,” says David. “We know that our international audience is pretty good, so we streamed in 66 countries, and that was a big deal.”
“The saturation has really set in, so when you do shows now, they’ll mention a particular scene,” Howard says of fan reaction to the TV show.
In addition to regulars such as David’s wife Susan, their friend Melanie Owston and other family members, the new season will feature special guests Eddy Raven, Billy Dean, “Key Largo” singer Bertie Higgins and others. They also recently filmed segments in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and onboard the Country Music Cruise, Star Vista’s sixth annual country-themed cruise where the Bellamys headlined the main stage.
After more than 40-plus years in the business, The Bellamy Brothers show no signs of slowing down. They had to reschedule a tour of Australia, New Caledonia and Fiji when Shelton called and asked them to tour with him this year, but they plan to reschedule those dates and also have shows scheduled for Canada and Switzerland later this year.
Right now everything seems to be lining up and the veteran performers are grateful for the serendipity. “The fact that the new album, new reality show and Blake’s tour are all starting in the same week, actually there’s no way we could have planned that,” David says. “It actually did just happen.”
“It just fell in our lap,” Howard says. “That’s the way everything has happened for us. You beat the bushes. You do everything and nothing happens and then out of the sky something falls and that’s the way it’s always been for us. Even cutting ‘Let Your Love Flow,’ it fell out of the sky. As I look back at our career, that’s how things happened and I appreciate it coming round.”