Howard and David Bellamy have been spending a lot of time on the road and in the air. The homespun country duo known for hits such as Let Your Love Flow, Redneck Girl and Old Hippie are blazing a global trail, celebrating 40 years of performing with an international tour that includes stops in France, Germany, India, Australia and Switzerland along with more than 150 appearances throughout the United States.
Over their career, they've performed in 60 countries, said Howard Bellamy, who last week was enjoying some time at the family's Darby ranch, where the brothers have been recording songs for a new album.
"We've been around, but we're always drawn back to our old home," he said. "This place is like a magnet."
On Friday the Bellamys are carving out time to meet with hometown friends and give a boost to young athletes with a benefit concert at Pasco High School, their alma mater.
Proceeds from the concert, held in conjunction with Pasco High's annual Reunion of the Decades, will help fund the school's athletic programs.
"We have actually done this three or four times now," Howard said. "Many schools are having trouble these days with staying on top of everything and keeping all the (athletic) programs going. We like to see the kids stay busy. Athletics helps keep their minds occupied, their bodies occupied. It makes for a healthier lifestyle and gives them something to do. And it keeps them out of trouble."
And perhaps, from dropping out.
"The school athletic department reaches the lives of so many children," said Pasco High alumna Cathlee Tomkow who is co-chairwoman of the concert and reunion with her cousin Becky Taylor. "One of the best ways to keep kids in school is through high school sports."
Sponsors include Growers Fertilizer, Traditions Bank, La Hacienda, Hodges Family Funeral Home, the Tampa Bay Times, Simpson Environmental Services and Bayfront Health. Money raised will help pay for equipment, referee fees, pool rentals, field paint, uniforms and more, Taylor said.
"It's just an amazing event. Our community is so involved," Tomkow said. "Everyone just comes together for the pirates. And the Bellamy Brothers have such a great following here."
No doubt the love flows both ways.
"It's a great little small town," Howard said. "When you're growing up, you don't realize what you have. Looking back, it was like a fantasy land. We were raised on a ranch. We spent summer swimming in the local springs. It was the most amazing childhood, so wild — like in The Yearling with the wild palmettos, rattlesnakes and alligators. We had the best parents ever. Discipline came about when you didn't get your chores done. I think that's why we're still together after all these years — we were taught to work together at an early age."
The family was also deeply embedded in the Pasco school system, Howard said.
Howard, who played basketball, football and ran track, graduated from Pasco High in 1964. His younger brother David graduated four years later. Their mother, Frances "Ma" Bellamy, drove a school bus and worked as an assistant cafeteria manager for more than 20 years. "That made it hard for us to skip school," Howard said.
Come Friday the Bellamy Brothers will be back at their alma mater, playing center stage in the school's football stadium. Those who attend Friday's concert can expect 40 years' worth of Bellamy Brothers' songs.
"Of course, we'll do all the hits because that's what people come to see, but we'll do some new songs, too," he said. "We're looking forward to seeing local friends that you don't see forever — that's always great. It's also great to be able to contribute something to the local community."
Michele Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.