“What’s been interesting is we’ve done two country festivals this year where we’ve got a standing ovation at the end,” says Paul. “Maybe it shows there is a movement towards being actually quite proud of what we have here in the UK, in terms of country music.
“We have something building here, all the successful artists are here, but it needs to be broader and deeper and, I think, that only happens by reinvesting in the infrastructure. Country music has always transcended geographical borders, anyway. That’s to do with the stories that people connect with, because it’s life. You’re talking about love and loss.”
While they’re passionate about both traditional and modern country music, Raintown are using their own unique sound and style to their advantage.
“We’re not trying to be anyone else, or an American version of Raintown. We’re out to carve our own identity, be authentic and be who we are,” says Paul. “Literally, we have played to one man and his dog. We were singing at a 10K event for charity and for some bizarre reason, the person started the race. Then we started and it was only this guy left. We came off and he went, ‘you guys were amazing.'”
With the release of the new album already gaining attention, and commentators describing them as one of the “hottest new acts,” it’s certain that the crowds at a Raintown gig will continue to expand with every performance. Megan Gnad www.raintownmusic.com he Bellamy Brothers, Howard and David, are celebrating their 40th anniversary as a band with the release of their new album, 40 YEARS. A two disc ,set it gathers a collection of older songs along with 20 new ones specificall recorded for the set. The most successful duo in country music history, the brothers continue to tour from their base in Florida and David Bellamy was kind enough to talk to Maverick about the album. records but then we’ve been around a long time.”‘
Now in their 60s the brothers first came to attention in 197 with their worldwide smash hit Let Your Love Flow, and some readers will surely remember seeing them on ‘Top of The Pop Did the success of the single surprise them? “Yeah, I think we as surprised as anyone. We didn’t set out [for success] as such mean we didn’t have a game plan. When we started we just enjoyed playing music and travelling so When Let Your Love broke around the world we just followed it. Playing places likf Germany, Japan, the UK, and then we just kept on doing that 40 years.”
“It’s an overview,” says David. “We knew we wanted to pi together an album for our 40th anniversary but we didn’t ju: want to rehash all the hits. We knew that people wanted to hear those, however, and so we came up with the idea of releasing 20 new songs along with 20 of the hits, so putting together 40 songs for 40 years.”‘
The idea of choosing only 20 songs from a huge back catalogue seems like an impossible task so how did they decide what to put on the album? “Well they’re mainly our most requested live songs and really they’re the songs that we play the most. The ones that people yell out for or ask u: to do when we meet. We’ve got such a big catalogue that it’ hard when we put together a set list, because we always have to leave out something that somebody will want to hear. I think we’ve done 29 studio albums and then there’s all the compilations so altogether I think there’s about 50
The song has recently been given a new lease of life with tl Bellamy Brothers teaming up with American Breast Cancer Organisation, Susan G. Komen for an awareness campaign w kicked off with a video of the brothers performing along with women who have survived their diagnosis. “Shooting that vi was great. All of the ladies in the video are breast cancer surv and spending time with them, well they had some amazing stories. It was very rewarding to do that and some money from the CD sales in the States is going to the charity. It’s a very nice thing to be involved with.”
We spoke about some of the new songs on the album. There’s one called Hippie Cowboy and I wonder if it related to their 1985 hit Old Hippie? “I guess that all goes back to people having difficulty in categorising us. I mean we’ve done pop music and country music but we’re basically country boys, raised on a ranch. We love country and reggae and pop and blues so over the years people would call us reggae cowboys or tropical cowboys or hippie cowboys. When I wrote Old Hippie, at first lots of people took it on themselves to write new verses so we wrote a couple of new versions as well. But the new song, Hippie Cowboys, is meant to be like a TV theme song, you know something that old Waylon would do.”
Another new song, the mildly salacious Boobs has a rapper on it and again I wondered if this was a nod back to Country Rap, their song from ’87? “Well, we did Boobs to make fun of this new country stuff. Rolling Stone wrote an article about us and said we were the godfathers of bro country, you know, guys like Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line because we had done country rap all those years ago. I thought it was pretty funny because we’re anything but the godfathers of bro country! So Boobs was a kind of a takeoff of the new stuff. You know they’re always riding down the road looking at girls and they all seem to have the same sort of lyric, so I decided just to take it a step further and make it all about boobs. We made a video where we shoot the rapper and he falls in the swimming pool, it’s just kind of fun. We don’t like to get too serious, we like to laugh at ourselves.”
There’s been a vein of humour in many of your songs. “Well, if you can’t have fun with it. I mean a lot of people take themselves too seriously, I like the fans who have a sense of humour and I think people in the UK have a pretty good sense of humour. Our song If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body was initially rejected by our record company in the UK but there was one independent guy who said to them ‘I know some stations who will play it’ and he took it and it was a big hit. So I think that having that tongue in cheek humour is a good thing to have.” Their first big break was a song, Spiders And Snakes they wrote for Jim Stafford and it had a sly sense of humour about it. “I wrote that as a country song originally and then Jim had this talking style so he and I changed it a bit to suit him and it eventually sold three million copies.”
After 40 years on the road the brothers still tour regularly. “Our live shows are really bigger than ever and we love to play. We gauge everything by our health and as long as we’re healthy we’ll continue to tour. We’ve already done seven or eight countries this year. In the old days of course we tried to kill ourselves partying on the road, but you hit a point where you appreciate that you still have your health. Both of us are back in the ranch where we grew up, it’s been in the family since 1870. We lived in Los Angeles a while and we used to have a condo over in Nashville but we always thought we’d come home and it’s pretty centralised for trips to Europe or the States. We’re doing pretty good, doing about 150 shows this year and the crowds are great. We’re just back from two days in Alaska playing the State Fair and those kind of trips are really cool.”
So the pair of you, staying on the same ranch, touring and playing together for 40 years but no sign of any sibling rivalry like the fights that tore up the Everlys? “Yeah, we’re still pretty good friends, we don’t beat each other up too bad. But you know that’s sad because now Phil’s gone and all of that was for nothing. This business is really not worth me beating up my brother.” Paul Kerr www.bellamybrothers.com