Balsam Range to the silver screen

Balsam Range's Caleb Smith watches Paul Sorvino playing mandolin on the set of Careful What You Wish For - April 2013“They’re gonna put me in the movies…” So sang Buck Owens (and Ringo Starr) in the mid 1960s in Act Naturally, a hit song that told the story of a country boy set for stardom in the movie biz.

In 2014, it appears that Balsam Range could be headed for the same fate. The guys are providing music for and appearing in the film, Careful What You Wish For, now in production at Lake Wiley near Charlotte, North Carolina.

Set for a 2014 release, the film by Elizabeth Allen is a crime thriller starring Dermot Mulroney. Paul Sorvino also stars as the local sheriff, who just so happens to be a bluegrass picker. His band is portrayed by Balsam Range, along with current collaborator John Driskell Hopkins, who plays the Sheriff’s Deputy.

Caleb Smith (right) and Tim Surrett (left) with Dermot Mulroney on the set of Careful What You Wish For - April 2013Guitarist Caleb Smith tells us that they performed three original songs for the film, two from Hopkins, and the other written by Hopkins with fiddler Buddy Melton. All of the band will be featured on screen, both picking and singing, and as extras in a number of scenes.

The history of bluegrass music in films includes a number of high points. Bonnie & Clyde turned Foggy Mountain Breakdown from an obscure Flatt & Scruggs number to an international hit in 1967, as did Deliverance for Dueling Banjos in ’72. In more recent years, we’ve seen what O Brother, Where Art Thou has done for the music of Ralph Stanley, especially Dan Tyminski’s version of I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow, which was included in the film.

Is there a 2014 hit in store for Hopkins and Balsam Range? For the sake of the guys, and for bluegrass music in general, let’s hope so!

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.