The Bellamy Brothers are returning to a local festival that launched the beginning of their iconic country music career five decades ago.
Darby natives and residents Howard and David Bellamy will headline a special concert at the 53rd annual Rattlesnake Festival on Oct. 18 at 7 p.m., at the Pasco County Fairgrounds’ Dan Cannon Auditorium, 36722 State Road 52 in Dade City.
The duo will be available to sign autographs at their merchandise tables following their hour-and-a-half long performance.
The concert serves as a prelude to the traditional festival days on Oct. 19 and Oct. 20.
The Rattlesnake Festival marked The Bellamy Brothers’ first official gig back in 1968 — where Howard and David performed on stage with their father at San Antonio Park.
The Bellamys continued to play the festival for several years prior to the the release of their 1976 chart-topping country pop hit, “Let Your Love Flow,” which spearheaded a career of 20 No. 1 hits and 40 million album sales worldwide.
In an exclusive interview with The Laker/Lutz News, Howard Bellamy said he’s looking forward to returning to the Rattlesnake Festival and host a concert for his hometown community.
“There’s no place we love better. We’ve toured in 72 countries and somehow we always come back to Darby, Florida,” Howard, 73, said.
“It’s a special place and special people around, so when they got this all together and asked us, we jumped right on. It’s very special and you get to see a lot of old friends you haven’t seen forever.”
He added, “We’re always grateful to be back home because this is where it started and this is where it will end.”
Howard and 69-year-old David Bellamy graduated from Pasco High School in the 1960s before embarking on their successful music career.
They spend any downtime amid their frenetic showbiz schedule on their 200-acre family ranch in Darby, just outside the Dade City limits.
When they return to town next month, The Bellamy Brothers will be fresh off an overseas tour that takes them to Norway and Sweden. They’ll immediately head out for a show in North Carolina following the Dade City concert. “We should be well-rehearsed,” Howard quipped.
Howard said the special concert’s set list “definitely” will include “Let Your Love Flow” and several other hit tracks. He noted there also will be some cuts from the band’s latest studio album, “Over the Moon,” which released in February.
“You know, we do as many hits as we can during the show, and we thank God we have enough of them that we have a choice, so people want to hear the hits,” Howard said.
Known for their busy ways, the Bellamys’ appearance comes in the midst of filming the third season of their reality television show, “Honky Tonk Ranch,” airing on the Cowboy Channel. Howard said the band is also working on several other projects with other artists.
“We’re always up to something,” he said.
The Bellamy Brothers’ last appearance at the festival came about 40 years ago, according to Joe Simmons, executive director of the Thomas Promise Foundation that puts on the Rattlesnake Festival.
Simmons said he tried to book The Bellamy Brothers for the event a few years ago, but they were on another road tour at the time.
The event organizer went about getting in touch with the band’s manager earlier this time around, to try to work the Rattlesnake Festival into the band’s lineup that includes roughly 150 tour dates every year.
Simmons’ friendship with David Bellamy’s son, Noah, also helped get things rolling.
“I tried to put a bug in his ear about talking to his dad about them being able to come out to the festival,” Simmons said. “We’re just appreciative that everything worked out to where we could bring them back to the festival. You know, everybody loves The Bellamy Brothers.”
Simmons acknowledged The Bellamy Brothers’ forthcoming appearance has generated extra buzz for the weekend long festival.
“Everybody’s excited,” he said. “Everybody loves it when the Bellamys come back home and play and, for us to be able to accommodate that and bring them back, it was a win-win situation.”
All proceeds raised from the Rattlesnake Festival will go toward the Thomas Promise Foundation, which provides meals and other programs to food-insecure children. It is the nonprofit organization’s largest fundraiser of the year.
The Bellamy Brothers concert is described as an “intimate affair,” with 528 total seats available.
Beer and wine will be offered inside the auditorium during the concert. Proof of age is required. Food will be available from vendors outside the auditorium.
General admission seats are numbered for reservation and tickets come in two tiers: closer seats cost $75 and seats further back cost $40.
Corporate tables are comprised of eight seats and include unlimited beer and wine, and are available for $1,500 per table and must be bought as a full table. Businesses purchasing tables also get their logo on the festival banner.
Tickets may be purchased by visiting RattlesnakeFestival.com, or by calling (813) 312-7119.
53rd annual Rattlesnake Festival
When: Oct. 18, Bellamy Brothers Concert; Oct. 19 and Oct. 20, festival activities
Where: Pasco County Fairgrounds, 36722 State Road 52, Dade City
What: Food, arts & crafts, live music, wildlife, children’s games, and local history are highlighted each year. Family fun and entertainment are a main focus of the event.
Cost: $5 public admission, free for ages 2 and under; Bellamy Brothers concert tickets sold separately.
Info: Visit RattlesnakeFestival.com, or call (813) 782-0000.
Published September 25, 2019