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Benjy Gaither is no stranger come Nashville or the entertain industry. The son of gospel music"s Bill and also Gloria Gaither is a gifted songwriter, producer and an innovative director, who has carried us some great songs and thrilled countless youngsters v his computer animated children"s videos. While part Gaither music fans are aware that Benjy voiced the component of the "bluegrass-crooning goat," Japeth, in the 2006 animated feature film, Hoodwinked, others have expressed surprise over his entry into the human being of filmmaking. If his an initial feature film, The last Ride, is any kind of indication, Benjy is approximately the daunting challenge of making outstanding movies.In April 2010, Benjy and also I had a call conversation around The last Ride, a movie around the critical seventy-two hours of Hank Williams" life. The film had actually reached post-production at the point, and he gave me a sneak peek. Ns knew some potential investors, but they eventually opted no to invest in the job for various reasons, no one of which had anything to carry out with Benjy or the film itself. Still, I remained intrigued through the story, and also was identified to keep up v the movie"s progress.
Those exorbitant Ads!Older worries of Grier"s Almanac are wanted by collectors because of the advertising. Within the pages that the 1934 worry (pictured listed below right), one can uncover ads because that Bayer aspirin, Cheney"s risk (for coughs) and also Feen-a-mint ("The Laxative That"s just like Chewing Gum"). When these products were rather common and widely offered at the time, a few other items were readily available by much more obscure companies, and following are simply a few of the standouts:6 6 6 a remedy for colds, headache, fever, biliousness, malaria and constipation easily accessible in liquid, tablets, nose drops and also a salve! (Editor"s note: I"d need to be pretty miserable prior to I would take something called "666.") Smith"s Worm Oil, a product of the Galenol Company, Inc. The Atlanta. Explained as "one that the oldest and also most trustworthy worm medicines sold." Lydia E. Pinkham"s vegetable Compound, a "tonic and also regulator" because that "girls in your teens." The advertisement states, "Teach her how to safety her health and wellness at this an essential time . . . As soon as she is a happy, healthy and balanced wife and also mother she will give thanks to you." Securitee, a "renowned prescription in a jellied form" defined as the "married woman"s sure, for sure method." "Are friend financially able come take care of babies and also give castle the appropriate attention?," the ad asks. "If not it may be finest to delay." Haven"t times changed? Today, over there is significant debate end whether school youngsters should learn about contraception and the prevention of sexuallytransfer conditions at younger and younger ages. In 1934, amid the Depression, an ad offering some form of pregnancy prevention made no cite of the word sex, of course, yet its intent was quite clear. "Every married pair should have babies, but it is a an excellent injustice to lug the tiny darlings into the world if all conditions are not simply right." interesting to note, 1934 was probably not among those year in which problems were "just right" for raising children for most southern couples.The 2006 Grier"s Almanac consists of its share of intriguing ads and, fairly frankly, number of of them space a resource of amusement. Particularly eyecatching is a full-page advertisement from Miller"s Rexall drugs & Curios of Atlanta. Miller"s heat of assets includes the following:Lucky ras Vegas Cologne (Editor"s note: If you"re willing to litter away her money at the casinos, security $5.55 ~ above this stuff more than likely can"t hurt!) Dragon"s Blood Uncrossing balloon Bath, "used to damage jinxes" (Editor"s note: A common shower through soap and water suits me simply fine. Jinxes don"t scare me.) "Make the opposite Lawyer Stupid" Oil and Candle (Editor"s note: This must have actually been provided by the O. J. Simpson defense team. Oops, ns shouldn"t have said that!!!) "Stop Evil" Spray Cleaner "Chase evil out of home, church, business," states the ad. (Editor"s note: Obeying the Bible and saying, "Get thee behind me, Satan," has always worked because that me!)Lots of beneficial Stuff, TooBesides a couple of hilarious ads and plenty of legitimate promotions, Grier"s Almanac consists of a beneficial gardening calendar, zodiac information, a spiritual section, a chronological listing that memorable events and also informing general interest articles.
Some eight years earlier, I had actually saved indigenous the Atlanta Journal-Constitution an write-up in which journalist Jim Tharpe had interviewed the gentleman, that -- together a seventeen-year-old boy -- had driven Hank Williams throughout those final three days. As soon as I started publishing southerly Edition in might 2006, one of my first entries in the Cotton claims Archive department was a item on the old Andrew Johnson Hotel in Knoxville. It to be there that Williams and his driver would have spent the night, but a call from a promoter reminding the singer of his contractual responsibility to execute in Canton, Ohio on new Years" Day required an noble Williams and also his teenage driver to leave early. Somewhere between Bristol, Virginia and Oak Hill, West Virginia, Williams passed away of heart fail in the backseat that his cadillac.

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In The last Ride, two previous child gibbs play the main parts. Hank Williams (using the alias, Luke) is play by Henry Thomas, that won moviegoers over with his duty in E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, and Jesse James theatre the part of Silas (the fictitious name used for the driver"s character). Silas is hired to journey the singer to some concerts because of wintry weather conditions prohibiting air travel. The screenplay, created by Howie Klausner and also Dub Cornett, offers a sobering glimpse of a performer whose best days should have actually been ahead of him, but the consequences of poor choices, health issues and addiction had obtained Williams in a strangle hold and refused to let go.In the complying with interview, Benjy Gaither shares exactly how he wound up being associated in the making of The last Ride and also how he and also his organization partner, bother Thomason, overcame the unpreventable obstacles to lug the task to fruition:
For nearly half a century, thomas P. Ashmore made the huge calculations for Grier"s Almanac. Upon his death in 1882, the was succeeded by his nephew, Otis Ashmore. A Savannah educator and also scientist, Otis Ashmore experienced the almanac autumn on hard times. It was in 1912 the Frank Lamar Fleming of man B. Daniel, Inc., an Atlanta wholesale medicine company, obtained the publication at a Savannah bankruptcy auction. In spite of the ownership change, Otis Ashmore remained with Grier"s, making huge calculations till his fatality in 1934. Pictured is his last issue.
GREG FREEMAN: I simply basically wanted to talk v you and also get your angle about the film and also how you concerned be affiliated with it. I understand when most people hear the surname Gaither, castle think of Christian music. And when they think the you, I"m certain they still combine you v some songs and the work-related that you"ve done with assorted artists, including the Gaither Vocal Band. Is this the an initial film that your company has produced? I recognize you"ve done some acting.BENJY GAITHER: Yeah, this is the first feature that I"ve produced. Exactly how I got associated was v Howie Klausner, the scriptwriter. Us were involved in some other projects together, and he referred to as me and also said, "Hey, I"ve got this manuscript that I desire you to look at. And I don"t recognize if you desire to help me shot to gain it make or whatever." ns said, "What is it? What"s the script." the said, "The last three days the Hank Williams" life." my ears simply perked up ideal away. Ns said, "Are you serious? Yeah, send it to me. I"d love to review it." so I review it, and I loved it for 2 reasons. Very first of all, I assumed it was an extremely believable. They really acquired the relationship in between Hank and his driver down. His driver had actually no idea who he to be driving, which is amazing. And also then, two, I assumed it was good that it wasn"t a biopic. I thought it was great that it to be just focused on the last 3 days the his life. The turned me on. The biopic"s to be done to death. Friend can"t execute any much better than go the line or Ray, and also we weren"t make the efforts to execute that. He sent out the manuscript to me. I read it, and also I loved it. And so I sent it to my friend, take care of Thomason. He"s directed or created a ton that shows. Of course, the did developing Women, evening Shade and The fall Guy and also a ton of reflects for CBS. So he"s a jug director. He loved it, and also I said, "Would you it is in interested in helping me produce it?" and also he said, "No, ns don"t want to produce it. I want to straight it." that said, "I desire you to develop it." and that"s exactly how I acquired involved. The sphere started rojo after Harry obtained involved, and we went from there.Due come some obstacles early on, us pretty lot did the movie for fifty percent the budget, and were on our heels pretty lot from the get-go, trying come raise more money to acquire the film finished. However we got it made. And, from climate on, we had actually other human being that we wanted to get affiliated in it. I ended up law the music simply out the necessity. We essential somebody to carry out the music, and we simply didn"t have the money to pay anybody. So ns did it. And also it became really good.GREG: Yeah, ns noticed that you did all the music. So what sort of challenge was that for you? have you done much with scores before? I know you"re an achieved songwriter.BENJY: Yeah, I"ve composed some songs. And I"ve composed some animation stuff. I knew I can do it. I simply didn"t recognize if ns was the ideal man for the job. For this reason Harry sent me a little scene, and the very first scene that he sent out me was that one once the little girl walks out of the church and Hank watch the small girl. I scored that and Harry heard it and played it for part people, and they all came earlier and said, "You"re act the score." So the was my introduction. Ns was very confident law it, but I"ve never ever scored a attribute film. I"ve never developed a feature film, either. So this was a lot of firsts because that me, yet I"m yes, really proud that it, and I think we did a really good job. It ended up being better than i think we also thought .
This sampling native the 1953 worry of Grier"s Almanac functions a half-page advertisement offering one "amazing fluid that tends to promote aversion (dislike) toward ALL intoxicating drinks." Also, kudzu had apparently not sufficiently attacked the south by 1953. B. W. Middlebrooks that Barnesville, Georgia, was advertising seed and kudzu crowns because that sale! fairly a comparison from the previously shown 1934 edition, the 1953 problem featured ads native two separate publishers fostering illustrated publications on the topic of sex!
GREG: Yeah, ns think friend told me that you guys developed this point for only..…..Was it $1.2 million? BENJY: Yeah, it to be a $3 million movie that us pretty lot did for about $1.5 million. We still come under budget. There space so numerous things in movies….some post-production things and also songs….and we provided some of Hank"s songs.
We also wanted to get the Williams family involved as much as us could. So us screened it because that Jett Williams, who is Hank"s daughter, and also her husband, that is one attorney. Us were an extremely scared. (Laughing) It was the longest hour and also a fifty percent of my life. We showed them one of the very first edits -- a really rough edit. After the screening, she concerned us v tears in she eyes and threw her arms about us and said, "You acquired my dad. You acquired him. This is the many accurate portrayal of my dad." and also she said, "If there"s something we can do, let us know, and also we"ll aid you get this movie out." and they"ve to be extremely useful and very supportive. We couldn"t have actually done it there is no them, basically.GREG: Yeah? Well, that"s cool. That"s an excellent that you obtained her blessing.BENJY: Right.
GREG: Is it for sure to say the Benjy Gaither now is pretty much in the movie business, and also the music business is more of a sideline? BENJY: (Laughing) Yeah, well, it"s both.GREG: They"re kinda intertwined?BENJY: Yeah. In whatever I do, music"s certainly gonna be a large part of it, yet at the same time I"m in the film business, too. GREG: can being one outsider, someone who is not component of the Hollywood establishment, work-related to her advantage?
BENJY: ns hope so. My experience with Hollywood, therefore far, has been great. I"d gotten involved with bother Thomason and also a many his friends, too. The course, he"s probably looked the end for me a lot.GREG: So perform you and Harry anticipate functioning together later on something else? Or was this just a one-time deal?BENJY: Yeah, in fact, we have actually several jobs in the functions that we will certainly be working together on. My endure with Harry to be amazing. He"s been around in the service for a long time. Make a movie is tough enough as it is, but he never got shaken up. He"s a professional, and he mentored me. And I would certainly love to work-related with take care of again.GREG: I recognize you guys have been hitting the film festival circuit, and you"ve gotten some an excellent reviews and also a few awards follow me the way, I"ve noticed.
BENJY: Yeah.GREG: yet as far as theatres, you"ve obtained some select dates comes up on October 21, right?BENJY: Right. We"ve gone back and soon on exactly how to carry out this. We thought of law a wide release in the fall, however then we thought, rather of act that, we"d try it in choose markets and see just how it does, and also come ago in January with a big release. The course, us think it"s gonna perform great, yet to to convince Hollywood it"s got to be about the numbers. GREG: Oh, yeah.
The critical Ride received much recognition in ~ the WorldFest-Houston global Film Festival in April 2011. The film received a gold Remi compensation for ideal Historical/Period Theatrical feature Film, and Benjy Gaither and Jesse James were awarded yellow Remis for finest Music and also Best gibbs respectively. Pictured left to right: bother Thomason, Benjy Gaither and also Jesse James.
BENJY: so that"s our focus. Focus on a few markets and try to do these very first releases do well and come earlier in January through a significant player behind it. That"s ours strategy.GREG: i think you"ve done terrific job, and the proof will certainly be in the reception and in the bottom line. And people will display that lock really support it.BENJY: and there"s a lot of gospel music in this, too.GREG: Yeah, you"ve acquired Michael English ~ above the soundtrack, right?
BENJY: Right. The Isaacs are on the soundtrack. And also so is Russ Taff. And that"s the other thing. Because that a lot of these Hollywood guys, this is their an initial time listening these southerly gospel artists, you know? GREG: Yeah, I"ll bet.BENJY: They"re like, "Who is this artist? that is this artist?" and I acquire to tell them, "Oh, yeah, that"s….." and also they"re like, "How"d you uncover this guy?" and also I"m like, "Yeah, I"ll take credit. I discovered him." (Laughing)GREG: (Laughing) That"s pretty cool. Well, listen, man. This has been great. I"m yes, really excited because that you. The people who are old enough to psychic Hank -- the ones who bought his documents or heard the on the radio or everything -- are really gonna prefer this.

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Michael English, lead singer v the Grammy Award-winning Gaither Vocal Band, and also Benjy Gaither prepare because that the filming of the music video, "I"m so Lonesome I can Cry."
BENJY: Yeah, ns hope so. I hope lock do. We certainly did the in the best spirit that us knew how. And, like I said, the manuscript is yes, really what attracted me right into this to begin with. And, for this reason far, the film"s been getting attention, and also for an excellent reason. Ns think Harry walk a great job directing. And then there"s Henry and also Jesse. Henry Thomas, who, that course, was the tiny kid from E.T., and Jesse James, that has remained in a ton of stuff, to be both son actors, and also their chemistry with each other was therefore real and so compelling. Come me, the direction and also the script and acting are what make the movie.GREG: Well, it"s really been good to view this thing progress. You enabled me to view clips critical year prior to most human being knew anything around it, and I"ve just been blown far by it, and also I"ve been telling friends the mine about it.BENJY: ns really evaluate you doing that.GREG: The world I"ve speak to are anxious to view it, and also they"ve unable to do to YouTube and also checked out the trailer.BENJY: it was definitely one of those labors that love because so numerous strikes were against us to begin with. But we did it, and I think us did it pretty well.The author gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Melody Cagle Gaither, Managing bureaucratic Director, Live Bait Entertainment, Anderson, Indiana.BIBLIOGRAPHYJim Tharpe, "Hank Williams" last ride: Driver recalls lonesome end," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, December 30, 2002."Andrew Johnson Hotel: Knoxville Landmark where Hank Williams Would have Spent last Night," southerly Edition. Retrieved September 20, 2011: http://snucongo.org/OTHER SOURCESTelephone interview with Benjy Gaither ~ above September 19, 2011Telephone conversations and/or electronic mail communications with Benjy Gaither on April 30, may 1, may 3, may 10 and June 28, 2010Author: Greg Freeman. Published October 18, 2011.