The visitors' bus is running way late. The pulled pork, collard greens, mac and cheese and ribs are getting cold on the table set up in the barn festooned with saddles and old signs, but also equipped with a kitchen and bathroom.
David and Howard Bellamy, the musical duo that gives Pasco County residents a story to share when playing the "my town's brush with greatness" game with acquaintances, decide to dig in.
"I'm starving," Howard says as he and Dave, their wives and staff all chow down on food brought in by On Q, a local barbecue joint off State Road 52 just west of St. Leo.
The wait turns out to be a couple of hours for the guests, members of the Seminole Cattlewomen's Association. The group is spending the summer touring ranches across the state. The Bellamys' place is second on the group's list.
During the wait, the brothers chat about their lives and what they've been up to since their single Let Your Love Flow, written by a roadie for Neil Diamond, skyrocketed to the top of the charts in 1976 and made the boys from Darby a household name. Howard 64, and David, 59, true old hippies, now eligible for AARP discounts, have performed for more than 35 years. They still tour about 250 days annually. Most of those gigs are in the states at the expected places like the Clay County Fair and the Redneck Yacht Club in Punta Gorda. But like former Baywatch star David Hasselhoff, who's all the rage in Germany, the brothers also hit pay dirt in Europe, doing shows in Italy and Switzerland. Later this year they plan to play four shows in Norway. They also plan to play Switzerland, where they recently did part of a duet album with Swiss rock sensation Gola.
"We never know what the weather's going to be, so we pack everything from a parka to a bikini," Howard says with a laugh.
They also recently teamed up with the Bacon Brothers for a video and song, Guilty of the Crime.
Reminded about the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" game, they laugh.
Says Howard: "I guess that makes us ones,"
This day is one of the rare times the brothers are at their family's 100-acre east Pasco homestead, where jasmine drips off the sides of the barn and cows moo nearby. Still a working cattle ranch, it is the Bellamys' spiritual home.
Their mother, known in the community as Miss Frances, lived here for many years before she died this past Christmas Eve. The brothers still do just about all their recording from a studio at the ranch.
"It's amazing what you can do with computers," says David, who recently penned a new song, Jalapenos, for an upcoming CD.
The song, a satire on political correctness, has itself become a victim.
"It's already been banned before it's been released, " David said.
Life ain't nothin like a bowl of cherries, goes the chorus. There's too little laughter and too much sorrow
It's more like a jar of Jalapenos, cause what you do and say today, don't go away and stay
It'll just come back and burn your a-- tomorrow.
Being controversial is nothing new to the Bellamys. David recalls how he got arrested as a teenager for daring to dance with a black girl in then-segregated Dade City. A friend who supported him "got his house burned down." The brothers were often the only whites in black nightclubs because they wanted to hear artists such as James Brown.
Yet they are somewhat of a paradox, paying musical tributes to redneck girls and Robert E. Lee. David was married in a Confederate dress uniform. Their politics are conservative: The brothers prefer Fox News Channel. They even sang on former GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee's show. In David's house, Glenn Beck bashes Barack Obama from a big-screen television in the family room.
Then, the same afternoon, they mention gay friends and act like it's no big deal.
Mostly they just like to talk about music and the changes they've seen over the years. Some, like the technology that allows them to record from home, are good. Others, like incorrect information on Web sites and blogs and bootleg downloads of their songs, are bad.
"I got 11 bootleg copies taken off iTunes," David said. And he recently e-mailed a Web site to correct some biographical information. "They said we can't do that,' he said. "I said, I should know, it's my life."
The brothers, who record under their own label, also lament the industry's focus on glamor over good writing and labels' treatment of young artists as slaves, taking virtually all proceeds from sales.
"We're glad we came around when we did," David says.
Yep, they're a couple of Old Hippies, still popular, but trying to adjust.
Lisa Buie can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 909-4604.