Bellamy Brothers are stars of reality TV show

More than 40 years after releasing their chart-topping country pop hit, “Let Your Love Flow,” recording 20 No.1 hits and selling 40 million albums, The Bellamy Brothers show no signs of slowing down.

They’re touring worldwide upward of 150 days a year.

They released an autobiography, “Let Your Love Flow: The Life and Times of The Bellamy Brothers.”

They’re a few harmonies shy of releasing their 30th studio album.

Howard and David Bellamy take a break in-between shooting scenes for their reality show, Honky Tonk Ranch. (Fred Bellet)

And, that’s not all for the 67-year-old David Bellamy and 72-year-old Howard Bellamy, who were born and raised in Darby, and graduated from Pasco High School in the 1960s.

They’re also in the middle of filming a new reality television show, “Honky Tonk Ranch” on The Cowboy Channel, an American cable television network airing in 25 million homes.

The reality show follows the international country music icons through their misadventures of a demanding tour schedule and life back home at their family’s 200-acre ranch, outside of Dade City.

The first season premiered April 8 and wraps up with the 13th episode season finale on July 1.

In the series, David, Howard and the Bellamy family open their doors to cameras illustrating how they balance ranching, recording, world touring, running a record label, as well as guiding the careers of the next generation of Bellamy music aspirations.

The Laker/Lutz News recently had an exclusive look into the filming of an episode at the ranch.

As part of the day’s hijinks, the Bellamy Brothers and their crew try to round up a 7-foot-long alligator nesting at one of the ranch’s ponds.

Another scene that afternoon involved David and his wife of 25 years, Susan, bantering about hoarding. “What I tell her is, it’s not hoarding if it’s cool stuff,” David quipped.

Such storylines have helped make the show an instant hit, in both the U.S. and overseas.

It’s become the No.1 rated show on The Cowboy Channel, which is owned by Rural Media Group Inc.

Available in 28 countries, it’s also been the network’s most-streamed show.

One sign of the show’s success and The Bellamy Brothers’ global fame: 100 people in China pay $10 a month to subscribe to the show, according to Chris Shaheen, the duo’s business manager.

Kachunga alligator handlers Chad Wright and Chad Wright Jr., of Dade City, along with David Bellamy, Noah Bellamy and Howard Bellamy size up the situation on what it takes to capture a 7-foot alligator in a pond on The Bellamy Brothers Ranch in Darby.

“One of the reasons we thought the show would be successful is because we have a pretty good world audience,” David said.

Throughout the first season, several scenes have been filmed in and around Dade City, like Charlie’s St. Joe Market on St. Joe Road.

“We like to expose the local people and local things and Central Florida as much as we can,” Howard said. “It’s a really cool place and, after (touring) 72 countries, it’s still a unique place here.”

Yet much of the show revolves around the family ranch in Darby. Located just north of Tampa, the working ranch is home to purebred Brahman cattle, crossbred cows, quarter horses and three generations of the Bellamy family. The ranch was purchased in 1870 by the Bellamy’s great-great-grandfather, Abraham, and has been the family’s homestead ever since.

Between the fruit trees, ancient oaks and crepe myrtles, the series follows the chaos from one household to another on the ranch’s lush land.

The property — and rural Darby — offers a sanctuary of sorts for the Bellamys. It’s the one constant in their frenetic showbiz schedule.

“This is the recharger right here — this old place,” Howard said while gazing at the ranch. “It’s where it all started, and I suppose it’s where it’ll all end, right here.”

Added David: “Just some place we could come home to, and just relax and take it easy. We still do quite a few dates a year and so it’s nice to have this. In the winter it’s nice because we mainly play weekends, so we’re home during the week, and it’s nice to lay back.”

Other regular cast members on the show include H.C. Young, Howard and David’s cousin and ranch hand; Randy Hiebert, The Bellamy Brothers’ longtime guitarist, David’s sons, Jesse and Noah Bellamy; and Melanie Owston, a family friend from Texas.

Besides the ranch, the show also followed the duo outside of central Florida — one episode was filmed in New York City, where the Bellamys were doing a media blitz to promote their new book.

The brothers tried to get a reality show for years while they were in contract with a handful of media companies, their business manager explained.

They originally shopped it to other major stations like A&E and the History Channel before winding up with Rural Media Group and The Cowboy Channel.

Said Shaheen, “Those people just couldn’t grasp it without seeing it and that was kind of the issue. They’ve had a relationship Rural Media Group for a while, and they just got into talks and decided that was probably the best route to take.”

With the show’s success, the Bellamys and their representatives are now in talks for two more seasons. Future episodes will likely focus more on the road.

The cameras have been rolling since January, a few months after the TV deal was inked.

“I just try to ignore  ‘em,” David jokingly said of having omnipresent filming crews.

Between breaks in action, the younger Bellamy noted the season finale will feature appearances from fellow American country music stars Mickey Gilley and Tanya Tucker. David and his wife also will renew their vows in the episode.

David pinned the show as “just a combination of all sorts of things.”

“We’ve done pretty well so far,” he said. “Everybody’s had fun.”

Honky Tonk Ranch airs Sundays at 8:30 p.m.

For the full program schedule and more information, visit TheCowboyChannel.com or BellamyBrothers.com.

In addition to their new reality television show, the Bellamy brothers casually touched on other topics, including today’s country music scene and what it was like growing up in Darby, in a recent interview with The Laker/Lutz News:

On today’s country music scene and the industry in general:
Howard Bellamy: “Musically, it doesn’t excite me. And, of course we cut our teeth, we worked with (Merle) Haggard and (George) Jones in our early days, so we’ve seen the best there was and, after that, everything’s a little bit of a disappointment. It’s not as creative as it was in the ’70s and ’80s, musically. Songs aren’t as creative, I don’t think. They get a little redundant, lyrically and musically. But, that’s not because of the artists. There’s a lot of talent out there. It’s because of the business itself. Everybody plays it safe, finds formulas of things and sticks to those formulas. And, the same with movies. The real creative stuff, I kind of miss that. …If anybody can make a living in this business, more power to them.”

On life in Dade City and how it’s changed over the years:
Howard Bellamy: “It’s amazing how you can sit here and feel pretty removed from things. Now in 15 minutes you can literally be into a mall, the next exit up, which is kind of cool in a way, as long as we can keep ‘em at bay. It has changed in that respect. And, of course, technology’s changed so much, so you can have everything everybody else does. It’s really great living in the country, but you don’t have to go far to get into a traffic jam.”

On their favorite places to perform over the years:
David Bellamy: “It’s a little hard to pinpoint the favorite spots. We’ve been to places that I’d never thought I’d see that are pretty cool and we’ve done interesting things. We played for presidents, royalty and all kinds of stuff like that, but I think our favorite stuff to do is, as far as still playing concerts, is to play out where people really like the music, because there’s still places like that. I mean a lot of cities are kind of jaded musically. There’s just so much and so many, and it’s just all the time. And, not that there aren’t good shows there. Like, when we were (recently) out in Texas, it’s like the whole town, the whole city shows up. That’s a lot of fun when you get places like that. We’ve played places overseas like that, like Sri Lanka and India, Australia. …Those are kind of the most fun things because those are the people who really appreciate it.”

On what people can expect from the new autobiography, “Let Your Love Flow: The Life and Times of The Bellamy Brothers.”
David Bellamy: “Some of my favorite stories and some of the old stories about growing up here were about family. I think there’s a lot humor and a lot of things that were fun to us, but other people, I think, they’ll like some of our road stories after we got a couple hits and got going on the road, started traveling. Some of the weird things and funny things that happen or some of the acts that you play with — I think in the book we say we’ve played shows with or done television with or recorded with everybody from Abba to Conway Twitty. I mean in the ’70s we were working with acts like Abba and Bonnie Tyler and Boney M., Dr. Hook. …So we had all that, and then we’d come back here and we had a whole country career going on, as well as a pop career…so I think that kind of makes the book more interesting.”

Published June 13, 2018

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