By Lynn Hobbs
The Eatonton Messenger
Summer memories are made in the Lake Country, and a new music video showing memories of a summer love should look like home to Putnam County folks. The Band Steele’s official music video of its song “Tan Lines and Moonshine” was shot in Putnam County in early October 2016, released on YouTube Dec. 7 and has been submitted to CMT. The video was made by Tytan Pictures for Fire River Records and not only features local scenes, but an all-local cast.
Brian D’Antoni, of Fire River Records, asked Tytan Executive Producer Jim Stone if Tytan could shoot the video for them in Alabama. “I said, ‘Yeah, we will do it, but only if we can shoot it in Eatonton,’” Stone said.
Tytan Pictures is leasing property from Eatonton’s Downtown Development Authority and is in the beginning stages of making the city a place for the making of videos and films.
“Tan Lines and Moonshine” is the Band Steele’s debut country extended play and needed a Southern setting. Alabama was first mentioned because the band’s musicians, Bo Steele and Ben Rubino, are from Alabama. When Stone changed it to Eatonton, Fire River set up a casting call in Atlanta; but Stone set up one the same day in Eatonton.
“The actresses in Atlanta were good, but I wanted all Eatonton. I wanted it to feel authentic, because if they weren’t Southern girls, people would see a mile away that it wasn’t real,” he said, explaining the difference is “Southern girls are not defensive; they’re friendly and easy-going.”
The Tytan team had only 10 days to put the video together, start to finish. Stone said he called Adam Smith, owner of Smith’s Coastal Grill, because Stone remembered two pretty waitresses there, Amber Reese and Lacey Johns. Stone asked Reese and Johns “to call all their friends and get them to the casting call. I said we need young pretty girls and pretty boys, and I know y’all know some.”
Twenty-eight people showed up to audition for the few spots needed, and Reese and Johns worked so hard running the audition that Stone told them they could be assistant producers of the video. “But at the end of the audition, (Producer) Julio (Saldarriaga) said ‘she’s my Jamie,’ and he pointed to Amber,” Stone said, noting Reese had not auditioned for the part. “Jamie” is the young girl the song is about, the one the musician is singing to. In addition to Reese, the other cast members are Kayla Hatfield, Andrew Webster, Luke Leverett, Kay Reese and M.L. Price.
The video begins at the bar of Smith’s Coastal Grill. The other scenes are at Eatonton Mayor Walt Rocker Jr.’s farm, the old Oak Street aluminum plant, Ooh La La Lavender Farm, the Old Macon Circle Bridge, Tanyard Road and a bird’s eye view of downtown Eatonton and the Putnam County Courthouse.
“It was amazing,” Reese said of starring in the video. “I got to be treated special with makeup artists and hair stylists for four days. I was very nervous at first because I didn’t want my friends to see me in a swimsuit kissing a guy in front of a camera, but everybody who worked with us was great and made us feel comfortable, even with a camera two inches from our face.”
Adding to the fun, Reese said, was they all got to go out and sing karaoke with Bo Steele at The Watering Hole.
Steele and Ben Rubino began playing music together at the age of 14 in Alabama. Their road to fame began when a video of Steele singing in a hospital waiting room went viral online with millions of views. They secured a role performing an original song in the movie “Life on the Line” starring John Travolta, Kate Bosworth and Sharon Stone.
That movie garnered them an invitation to sing the National Anthem live at the NASCAR Driving For Linemen 200 Race on national television; which is how Tytan came on the scene.
Tytan’s documentary “Storm Soldiers,” is about linemen working behind the scenes to restore power during and after storms. D’Antoni called Stone to get permission to use some video footage from “Storm Soldiers” for the NASCAR performance, and their friendship was formed.
It was D’Antoni who introduced Stone to MLB great Darryl Strawberry, which turned into a movie-making deal to portray Strawberry’s life story. The feature film is in the creation stages, Stone said, and will be partially shot in Eatonton.
“Tan Lines and Moonshine” can be seen currently on YouTube – on that site, search “The Band Steele – Tan Lines Official Music Video.” Another “Behind the Scenes” video, also on YouTube, features a concert on the Putnam County Courthouse’s front (north) lawn. The video has more than 23,000 views “and that number is growing,” Stone said, noting the video has been submitted to CMT and the song is climbing the charts for new songs.
See the video “Tan Lines and Moonshine”: