Advice from the Road!
Thanks to the opportunity of conducting interviews for the media outlets I have or do work for, I have been blessed to have personal conversations with musicians and artists that have amazing life experiences. The unfortunate part is that some of the best discussions happen when the video camera or recorder aren’t rolling, but maybe that makes them more special too? As a child, I remember driving in my Mom and Dad’s car and hearing “Spiders and Snakes” by Jim Stafford. At that young age, I had no idea that David Bellamy was behind the writing of that song. In fact, the money that the song created was used to launch a family band that needed seed money to hit the road and the studio. Fast forward to December of 2015 and I’m interviewing David and Howard, The Bellamy Brothers, for the first time for FOX 17 Rock & Review. All three of us have a love for guitars so the conversation frequently veers off into that territory, but Howard has the most interesting stories of anyone! Somehow, we started discussing their fans in the UK and Europe. David stated, “We’re bigger overseas than in the US because we started playing over there in the 70’s when nobody else would.” It took a while for this statement to sink in after the interview, but once it did I started sharing it with other bands and artists. What the Bellamy Brothers did was seize an opportunity that few others saw at that time, except for John Denver who they frequently shared a stage with and David said everyone in those countries knew “Country Roads” by Denver. David and Howard nurtured a fanbase that many artists in that era didn’t even recognize. Everyone else just kept touring the US, but the Bellamy’s recognized an audience that was hungry for American music. Not only did they tour the UK, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria and Ireland occasionally – they did it every year consistently. Making many of their albums and songs more popular in those countries than their country of origin. I liken it to the Jimi Hendrix effect, where Jimi had to go to England and become famous there before he was recognized here in the states. In the case of The Bellamy Brothers they have accomplished a vast amount compared to their early days of David writing songs and Howard playing in Jim Stafford’s touring band. Now they sellout concerts all over the world, have their own TV show “Honky Tonk Ranch,” released an autobiography a year ago and were just added to Blake Shelton’s world tour on the roster of Headliners. So, what can all of us learn from David and Howard? Instead of going the easy path of touring, where everyone else did, they cut a new one. They created a market and following of fans where there was none before, because they had the foresight to realize they were unique in those countries. It is very easy for all of us to try and follow the exact line to success that someone else achieved, but maybe that isn’t the best method for us. It takes more creativity and faith to chart our own course and see where that takes us, than to follow the masses because everyone else is going that way. The Bellamy Brothers still share they’re family farm, they tour, create a TV show and write music together as brothers after over 40 years. If we copy someone we are only remembered for how close we came to the original. If we create our own direction and persona then we are the original to be copied by others. Thanks to trail blazing artists like David and Howard Bellamy I learned a great life lesson from a one-off side conversation, just by listening to their advice! And their hit song “Let Your Love Flow,” from 1976, still holds up nicely too.