Friday, March 29, 2013

Art imitates life, at least the life we'd all love to live in Hazzard County

Jim Wilson of London, Ontario, had dreams like any other kid growing up in the 1970s who watched "The Dukes of Hazzard" when it originally aired. He wanted to meet the Dukes, he wanted to see the Duke farm, and Hazzard Square, and any of the other sites featured on the show. He wanted to see a General Lee.

"Well, I did watch 'The Dukes' every Friday night when it was new, when I was a kid," Jim tells BRBTV. "Looked forward to it, and my mom would always pop some popcorn on the stove for me, back then we did not own a microwave, LOL."

Jim made his dreams come true. He did grow up to meet the cast members, even see John ("Bo Duke") Schneider and Tom ("Luke Duke") Wopat in concert, and he visited Hazzard Square and the Duke farm. And he's seen a few General Lees over the years, both at Dukesfest and elsewhere, even though he lives in the Great White North where it would seem you wouldn't see such a sight!

"You would be surprised, there are a few General Lees around my area," he says. "I always seem to find somebody who enjoys the show. My good friend Jason Darling, who lives near Kingston, Ontario, is building two Generals right now, a dirt tracker and a nice street car."

But while all of that is mighty fine, that's not the reason we're featuring Jim Wilson on the BRBTV News Blog today. You see, he's the kind of fan that is so inspired by "The Dukes" that it touches off his artistic creativity. More specifically, it sets him to painting.

"As for inspiration for the paintings, I like to capture the feel of the late '70s, early '80s," Jim tells us. "Hard to explain, my childhood seemed to last forever back then, always wondering when will I grow up and be a big person like Bo and Luke. I have always drawn things, have a gift I guess. I had a special art teacher who would come in once a week to expand what I had done. Taught me perspective, stuff like that. But basically I just draw or paint or weld what is in my mind."

And what a talent and imagination it is. We especially like his interpretation of the recovery of Lee 1, the very first General ever jumped on "The Dukes of Hazzard." Now, there's an interesting thing to paint, especially for what that moment, and the ensuing years of the car's change in ownership and its restoration, have meant in the "Dukes" fan community, both positive and not so much.

Jim is sure capturing a certain feeling in his work. And it's clear that comes from his own love of the show and of all that surrounds it these days.

"I love going to events in the South," he says. "Last year at the Hazzard Homecoming I finally met Tom Wopat, so now I have met everybody, even Honest John Ledbetter, who until his death lived in Canada. I had a nice talk with him about the 'Dukes.' I can see why Cooter lives in the Blue Ridge mountains. I fell in love with 'em, too. Any reason to go back there, I would. Beautiful."

"My favourite 'Dukes' character I would have to say is Uncle Jesse," says Jim, who had the above moment at the site of the original Duke farm in Georgia captured for all time. "I don't own a General Lee yet. That pic of me you saw was just luck that somebody was at the farm with one; he let me pose in front of it. I'd like to mention that the gas pumps were Jason's idea and the Hoggoco oil cans were mine. He lives and breathes the 'Dukes' like me."

And does it seem unusual that such a fervent "Dukes" fan would be Canadian born and bred? Not to us, as we used to attend the Hair Dare Dukes Days in Ontario and see the love of the show there in the North.

"I don't think the Canadian perception is any different from the American on the show," Jim says. "We both know you can't fly a car without damage, LOL. For some reason there are a lot of Confederate flags flying up here. Everybody wants to be a rebel, I guess, and American flags, after 9-11, the stars and stripes were everywhere in Canada in support."

And "The Dukes" isn't the only classic TV show he loves.

"As for what I watch on TV today, not much. I did enjoy the new 'Battlestar Galactica' series. I also like 'The Big Bang Theory.' Everything else I buy on DVD. Love the 'Waltons.' I went to Waltons' Mountain museum last year after the Homecoming as it was two hours away from there. Makes you wish you grew up on Waltons' Mountain. I also enjoy the series 'Rat Patrol' from the '60s. 'Magnum P.I.,' I adore that show. 'The Fall Guy,' 'McHale's Navy,' 'Beverly Hillbillies,' 'Petticoat Junction,' aughhh so many!"

When he's not painting, Jim's "day job" is at St. Thomas Rent-all in St. Thomas, Ontario. He also enjoys making welding sculptures out of scrap material from work, model railroading. "In my younger years I was dirt biker. I miss my motorcycle. ;("

But his No. 01 hobby, as he puts it, is searching for 'Dukes' stuff! He does admit it's harder to find in the Great White North.

"Back in the '80s, Canada had Kmart, (not anymore) and I got my first 'Dukes' toy, an ERTL General Lee. I was so excited. The '90s were a real dry spell for 'Dukes' stuff. I remember hearing about the first reunion movie, but we didn't have cable. I missed out on it, then when the DVDs starting coming out, I was in heaven. It's like every show is brand new again, and that's when I found out about Dukesfest. I HAD TO GO!! My first was 2005 in Bristol, my first real trip South as an adult. Terrible drive there. Long story short, we got there late at night on a back road, thunderstorm, we stayed at a crappy hotel. I woke early next day, it was humid, dark, grey sky, and in the mist, I see my very first General Lee sitting on a trailer. I was so excited, I MADE IT, it was a dream come true, 50,000 people like me in the same town!! And I have been going ever since, pic of that General in the mist included. ;)"

He says traveling to Atlanta was another dream come true. "When I went inside the Duke farm, stood in front of the Boar's Nest, drove around Hazzard Square in my Cadillac at the time. Never thought in a million years I'd ever see this stuff. What HISTORY!"

He continues, "Then a couple years back, I put an ad on Kijiji looking for '69 Charger parts. Well, this guy named Jason Darling answers. He had a trunk lid for me. I met him in Toronto, as it's kinda halfway for both of us. I walked up to him, and I felt like I had known him my whole life. Well, thanks to him, I have a trunk lid and a door, one piece at a time like Johnny Cash. The door blew me away. I met him in Niagara Falls last April for the John and Tom concert. I was thinking I was getting an old rusty dented door; he pulls out of his truck a freshly painted 01 orange door signed by Bo and Luke. I started to well up. I was floored. He is now one of my best friends. I consider him my brother; we text everyday, no less, always comparing 'Dukes' stuff. Amazing who you meet through the 'Dukes.'"

Yup! Don't we know it! Many thanks to Jim for sharing his story.

Photo and art courtesy of Jim Wilson; please do not copy without permission.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spotted: Robin Mattson

Ooohhh, we've seen her in such great classic TV roles, before we came to know her so well on "Santa Barbara" and "General Hospital." And there Robin Mattson is again, popping up in a "Hardy Boys Mysteries" episode from 1978, her second one of that series.

In "Scorpion's Sting" she is Catherine Martin, daughter of a notorious bad guy who's oblivious to her dad's secret life. It's two years before she signed on to "GH," and seven years before "SB," and she's thin and girlish, with long straight hair lending leanness to her normally full face. Her wardrobe is casual, and her interplay with Parker Stevenson as Frank Hardy is fun. There's nary a touch of Heather Webber or Gina DeMott in her innocent demeanor. Sweet!

The "Hardy Boys" series tried a couple new things in this third and final season, jazzing up the opening theme song and tucking the boys under the employ of the Justice Department -- and then sending them all over the world to unravel mysteries. Too bad it didn't extend the life of the series (and too bad Nancy Drew was gone -- rats!). Still, we've enjoyed the third-season DVD set. Thanks to Tracy for it!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Our video coverage of the Dukes of Hazzard Georgia Reunion continues

Ever jump a General Lee by accident? Yea, we didn't think so. Well, you can hear about somebody who did in the latest installment on the BRBTV YouTube channel. Hear the perspective of one of those many, many folks out there who know, love and even drive the car. That car. The blazin' orange '69 Dodge Charger.

In addition, this second part of our three-part video coverage of the Dukes of Hazzard Georgia Reunion highlights an Australian writer who's just released a "Dukes of Hazzard"-themed book. Darren Gallagher debuted his book "Don't Pull a Knife in Texas" at this event, and in it he writes about his adventures attending last year's Hazzard Homecoming.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Catch our BRBTV coverage of the Dukes of Hazzard Georgia Reunion

We've been really Dukin' it up here at the BRBTV News Blog the past week or so, and we're not stopping now. We've got three brand-new videos to serve up to you from the BRBTV YouTube channel, and they all focus on the Dukes of Hazzard Georgia Reunion in Byron, Georgia, the weekend before last. We put you there, on the grounds, as we like to do, in case you weren't able to make it yourself, or if you did make it there but just want to relive the moments.

The first video in this new series is an overview of the event. Some slices and dices, as it were. See a few sights, catch the cast members signing at their tables, and hear from Mr. Rusty Cash of Tennessee, whom many of us "Dukes" fans know as "The Boss," glistening in his all-white J.D. Hogg attire, and telling us just what it was about that character that inspired him ...

Watch for the other videos in the series, which include the perspectives of a General driver, an author, and several cast members!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Hagerstown becomes Hazzardtown in June

Hagerstown ... Well, that sorta sounds like Hazzardtown, right? Hmmm ...

The dust has hardly settled from beautiful Byron, Georgia's Dukes of Hazzard Reunion last weekend, and already there's yet another "Dukes" event in the works. We told you last week about the Nashville event in June. Well, set your General's GPS for something decidedly more easterly later that month. Hagerstown, Maryland, is going to set the scene for the Dukes Family Festival.

It'll be a one-day shindig, and it will have several members of the cast. Visit for more about the venue.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Some more photos from the Dukes of Hazzard Georgia Reunion

BRB and her bud Tracy had a great time at the Dukes of Hazzard Georgia Reunion this past weekend, at the Old Middle Georgia Speedway in Byron. The core surviving "Dukes" cast members were there, along with about a bazillion other folks and even a canine or two, as there often are at these things. Here are some shots from the scene, and look for our video coverage of the event on the BRBTV YouTube channel in the next week or so ...

We've got Rusty Cash, that ole "Boss Hogg" above, along with some other folks talking on camera at the event, so stay tuned to that YouTube!

Photos by Billie Rae Bates / BRBTV
Copying with credit is OK; a link would be grand

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Today at the Dukes of Hazzard Georgia Reunion: A little "Today"

The sun was shining bright in Byron, Georgia, today for the Dukes of Hazzard Georgia Reunion. It was a full day of fun at the Old Middle Georgia Speedway on Highway 41 for myriad "Dukes" fans, and definitely the cast members, who kicked off the day with a touch of "Today" amid a morning press conference held by the event's producer.

A crew from the popular NBC morning show was there before the festival opened to talk with John Schneider, Catherine Bach, James Best, Ben Jones and Rick Hurst about our beloved TV series and its impact over the years, as well as its enduring appeal. The crew then stuck around a couple hours to talk to some other folks and capture other highlights of the event. A crew member told BRBTV this coverage will air tomorrow, so tune in!

So remember to tune in to "Today" ... ummm, tomorrow, and stay tuned here ... In the next couple days we'll have more photo coverage of the Dukes of Hazzard Georgia Reunion!

Photos by Billie Rae Bates / BRBTV
Copying with credit is OK; a link would be grand.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Dukes of Hazzard Fan Fair set for June

If you're coming out to the Dukes of Hazzard Georgia Reunion in Byron, Georgia, this weekend, make sure to say howdy to Billie Rae Bates of BRBTV, who'll be there with her friend Tracy. And mark your calendar for another "Dukes" event coming down the pike. Ben ("Cooter Davenport") Jones, who with his wife Alma Viator has been throwing so many great "Dukes" events for so many years, is planning the Dukes of Hazzard Fan Fair for Nashville in June.

The fair, on Saturday, June 8, 2013, will coincide with the CMA Music Festival and will happen at Cooter’s Place on McGavock Pike across from the Grand Ole Opry. The core surviving cast will be there: The Big Three of John ("Bo Duke") Schneider, Tom ("Luke Duke") Wopat and Catherine ("Daisy Duke") Bach, along with James ("Rosco P. Coltrane") Best, Sonny ("Enos Strate") Shroyer, Rick ("Cletus Hogg") Hurst, and of course Jones himself, meeting and greeting fans.

In the press info for the event, Jones notes that the last big "Dukes" events in Nashville were his own Dukesfests in 2006 and 2007. BRBTV attended the 2006 one, possibly the biggest "Dukes" blowout ever with its CMT sponsorship, bringing together us original "Dukes" fans along with a whole new generation of little ones who now love the show -- amid threats to close down the overpacked buildings on the racetrack grounds for fire code!

Keep an eye on the Facebook page for the Dukes of Hazzard Fan Fair more info as the time draws closer.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Hollywood Show serves up Stella Stevens and more in April

Our delightful Phyllis Blake of "Santa Barbara," Ms. Stella Stevens, is among the celebs planning to meet and greet fans at the next Hollywood Show. Jackson Bostwick of "Shazam!" is there, too, along with Richard Hatch of "Dynasty" and Ron Ely, with whom BRBTV spoke last year for the "Superchicks" book and his appearance on "Wonder Woman."

The show runs April 19-21 at the Westin Los Angeles Airport. See more at the Hollywood Show's site.