After more than four decades entertaining audiences from Fort Worth to Sri Lanka, longtime fans may think they know pretty much all there is to know about the Bellamy Brothers, but siblings Howard and David are getting ready to let folks behind the scenes of their busy life on their new reality show, Honky Tonk Ranch.
Debuting April 8 on the Cowboy Channel, the show spotlights life on the Bellamys’ Florida ranch as the duo balance recording, ranching, touring and family.
In an unusual twist, the Bellamys have Kevin Bacon to thank for this latest development in their lengthy career. “The original seed started when we were doing the ‘Guilty of the Crime’ video with the Bacon Brothers in Memphis. Oddly enough, I guess you would call this one of those ‘six degrees of Kevin Bacon’ kind of things,” David tells Sounds Like Nashville with a chuckle. “We shot it in a prison and Kevin got lost in one of the real prisoner aisles. All of a sudden, there was went panic. ‘Oh my gosh Kevin Bacon is missing!’ He had just wandered off to go to the bathroom, so the guards are running around and everybody is looking for him. They bring him back and my wife, Susan, says ‘You know, we really ought to do a reality show. Nobody would believe this,’ so I said, ‘Yeah that would be kind of fun.’”
Time passed and they began seriously mulling over the possibility. They met with various television production companies and networks, and The Cowboy Channel felt like the perfect home for the Bellamys, who have been ranchers for generations. “We’re just a bunch of Florida rednecks,” David laughs, “so I think we found a good place for it because the Cowboy Channel just started up last summer and it fits us pretty well. We’ll have a good home there. We’ve shot two episodes already.”
The show will definitely be a family affair. Howard has a grown daughter and David has five sons, including Jesse and Noah, a talented duo whose music will be featured in the show. “Eventually we will introduce most of the family,” David says. “We’ll probably sing a few gospel songs with our sister Ginger here and there. I think people would like to hear that. We’ll just bring the family through and everybody will kind of participate here and there.”
Fans will also meet Susan’s adorable rat terriers Waylon and Willie as well as family friend Melanie Flamik Owston and their cousin H.C. Young “Melanie is a good friend of ours. She’s actually worked with me on a lot of videos in Texas. She’s a makeup artist and she does a lot of stuff. She’s a real country girl. She trains horses, ropes and everything. And H.C. is in it and there’s really no way to describe him. You just sort of have to see him. He’s been our ranch hand and he’s a real close cousin of ours. He’s a really great guy and he’s really funny.”
In the first episode, Howard plays a prank on Susan and Melanie, telling them he needs them to measure a bull because he has a prospective buyer and he can’t get home to do it. “That’s pretty funny. The second one is pretty funny too because Susan decides to rescue a baby tiger,” David explains. “The tiger is really beautiful. It’s only three months old. Jesse and Noah remind her that it’s going to grow up and eat her and the dogs too so we have to talk her into doing other things. We just kind of have fun with it and I think people will enjoy it. It’s all kind of nonsense, but it’s fun nonsense.”
David says they plan to film two episodes a month at the Bellamy’s ranch outside Dade City, FL. “This is the old home place, the original place that my grandfather homesteaded here right after the Civil war which was 90 acres and then we bought land all around it, so it’s close to 300 acres now,” he says of the property that includes four homes, their recording studio and their label Bellamy Brothers Records. “We also have other land that we work cattle on and other herds, but this is really the primary place that we grew up and all of our houses are here. There’s about 100 head of cattle here now. We actually don’t have as big of an operation here now after our mom died because it was harder to keep it up touring like we were.”
The Bellamys maintain an extremely busy road schedule, touring both in the U.S. and overseas. “This past year was pretty exotic because we did everything from Singapore to Sri Lanka,” he says. “We actually did 11 or 12 countries. We saw the world.”
In addition to touring and working on the new reality show, The Bellamys are working on a new album, and are also releasing a book that chronicles their rise to fame with the international pop hit “Let Your Love Flow” and follows their 40 plus years in the music industry. “The book will be out a week after the premier of the show,” David says. “The album will come out third or fourth quarter. It’s a little bit of everything. Some of it we wrote a little while back and some is brand new. There 13 or 14 songs on there, and it is pretty fun. We’ve got a lot of good players on there and we’ve got a little R&B, country and some crazy stuff, a little bit of reggae. We don’t have a title for the album yet.”
The Bellamys are excited to share the book, new music and the show with their fans. What does David think viewers will learn about the family that perhaps they didn’t know before? “I think that if they’ve ever wondered if we were country or not, it will put that to bed,” he laughs. “It’s a country show. It’s a family having fun. We’re going to expand it as we go. We’ll take it on the road somewhat by the end of the first season and we’ll see what happens. It’s going to be fun.”