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"Pretty Little Girl from Galax," a song performed by bluegrass band Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out and written by Milan Miller, has spent several weeks at the top of the bluegrass charts.
The catchy, upbeat tune, released on their CD “Prime Tyme,” is about a fellow in North Carolina trying to get to Galax to see his sweetheart.
"When we heard that song, it had a catchy melody to it and a cute story of a guy trying to get back to see his girl," said Moore, of why the song was chosen from a demo Miller had sent to the band. "And when we listened to the song, we heard a great opportunity for the concept of a video."
Moore and his band contacted Galax Tourism Director Ray Kohl, who was instrumental in choosing where the video should be shot.
The video was released on Thursday, after Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out talked about their new CD and performed live on Nashville radio station WSM's "Inn Sessions.” Fans can listen to the interview and music at www.wsmonline.com and watch the video on Youtube and other outlets.
Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out's home base is in Georgia, but the well-known bluegrass band makes annual trips to the Fairview Ruritan Club in January and to the Rex Theatre in Galax. Although there is very little time between shows, they always make time to stop for barbecue at The Galax Smokehouse across from the Rex.
"The song is fun," said Moore. "And it's an expression of who we are. The whole area of Southwest Virginia has contributed to bluegrass, folk and old-time. This song draws attention to the area and what Galax has contributed to our music."
The band formed in 1991 with Moore, the guitar player, as the founding member. The band is also made up of Steve Dilling (banjo), Justen Haynes (fiddle), Wayne Benson (mandolin), Edgar Loudermilk (bass) and sound technician Donnie Carver.
They have won seven consecutive International Bluegrass Music Association awards for Vocal Group of the Year and Russell Moore has two IBMA Male Vocalist of the Year trophies.
The band has 14 recordings.
“Prime Tyme” has topped the Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine Top 15 Albums, Bluegrass Music Profiles Magazine Top 15 Bluegrass CDs and SiriusXM Bluegrass Junction Most Played Albums, with numerous tracks reaching number one on the singles charts, including “Pretty Little Girl from Galax” and “If Your Heart Should Ever Roll This Way Again.”
"We don't know if we've ever had that kind of success," said Moore, who attributes the CD's success to "Pretty Little Girl from Galax."
There's no grand story of how Miller came up with the idea for the song, Miller said. He lives in Nashville and grew up in Waynesville, N.C. In fact, he had only driven through Galax a few years ago. Miller married a woman from Jefferson, N.C., where he visits and often listens to the Galax radio station, he said.
"The song title just kind of popped in my head," he said. "Galax has that history of bluegrass, and I wanted something that had old-sounding lyrics. Galax isn't the easiest to rhyme, either, but I liked the way the title just rolled off my tongue."
It was just a blessing that Russell Moore and his band chose his song, said Miller.
"As a kid listening to bluegrass, I was big fan of Russell Moore," said the singer-songwriter. "This was the first song on the demo that I sent them, and luckily it caught their ear."
Miller's second song on the demo, "Little Magnolia," is also heard on “Prime Tyme.”
Last year, at the IBMA Awards, Russell Moore was named male vocalist of the year.
“Pretty Little Girl From Galax” was then performed at the Grand Ole Opry auditorium, and the song was released by Rural Rhythm Records in September 2011.
Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out spent a couple days in Galax filming a video in March.
The video is set in the 1950s, so Kohl said the production team, Moonstruck Management, requested an old-fashioned gas station with a garage and a bell.
Roberts' Citgo on North Main Street was the perfect setting for that, said Kohl. The song says, "I jumped an open freight car, thought that would be alright, ‘til the brakeman caught me sleepin’ in the middle of the night," leading to a scene at the caboose at the New River Trail.
Other parts of the video were shot at Barr's Fiddle Shop, the "Welcome to Galax" sign and the Rex Theater, where the band performed a free, 45-minute concert in front of about 200 people the day of filming.
Kohl even has a small role, playing the part of the driver of a Hudson Hornett (owned by Dr. Tom Littrell of Galax) at Roberts' Citgo.
Ashley Nale, a band member of local bluegrass group Loose Strings, and Jordan Vaughan — both students at Galax High School — play the roles of young sweethearts in the video.
"This is a tourism plus for us," said Kohl. "This brings us extra attention."
During HoustonFest, held May 4 and 5 in Galax, Kohl said he met a couple who found out about Galax after hearing the song. They Googled “Galax,” came to the music festival and said they would be back, said Kohl.
"Everybody in the bluegrass business is familiar with Galax and its ties to music," said Moore. "People love the song, and by the end, they're tapping their foot and trying to sing along."
• Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out are scheduled to perform during the Leaf & String Festival on June 9 at 8 p.m. at the Rex Theatre. Tickets are $15.
For $25, fans can have dinner with the band at The Galax Smokehouse at 5:30 p.m. This price also includes the show at The Rex. Tickets are limited for the dinner.
Tickets can be purchased at the Galax Visitors Center on East Grayson Street in downtown Galax, across from the Rex and behind the restaurant.