'Carolina Moonshine' a hit for local singer
"It all started with a batch of Carolina moonshine."
So sings rising country music star and Wilkes native Matt Dylan, who reunites moonshine and racing in a new music video, filmed largely at North Wilkesboro Speedway, promoting the up and coming independent film, Red Dirt Rising.
The song, "Carolina Moonshine," is a funny but true take on how racing started on the run.
"[Drivers] were running moonshine to make money," Red Dirt Rising marketing director Todd Morris said. "That's how they made ends meet... the objective was to have a car that ran really well so you could outrun the law."
Drivers would brag about outrunning revenuers, and their sense of competition would take over.
"They'd run moonshine during the week, and, come Saturday, they would start to out run each other," he said.
It's a heritage celebrated in Dylan's "Carolina Moonshine."
"It's a song that I'd been trying to write for about three years, actually," Dylan said. "I was on my way back from Myrtle Beach ... and finally got all my ideas together."
The "Carolina Moonshine" track on the Red Dirt Rising soundtrack almost didn't happen.
"We had already locked the soundtrack," Rising producer James Suttles said.
Dylan heard about the movie and sent what Morris described as a "rogue" MySpace request to submit his hit.
"I was raised to respect people's efforts, so I contacted him," Morris said. "He sent me that song, and it caught us extremely off guard because it was so well produced and so well orchestrated. We realized he was a very serious musician, and it had to be on the soundtrack."
"You've got to have persistence," Dylan said.
When Morris and company introduced the song at Shine Fest in Madison, they knew they had a hit on their hands.
"There's 20,000 people on the streets," he said. "I crank up the PA system, and I watched everyone stop and turn around and listen to that song, and they all wanted it."
A few weeks later, the video was created, complete with race car legend Junior Johnson. Not only did he appear in the video, he let the crew shoot at the Johnson farm.
It was an experience Dylan describes as unforgettable.
"As [Johnson] tells those stories and flashes that smile, you can still see that hint of competitiveness in his eyes," Dylan said.
Johnson was joined by retired moonshiners and other Wilkes natives making cameos in the video, complete with classic cars and, of course, a few glass jars.
"Carolina Moonshine" is just one of the great things happening to Dylan.
He was just contacted about recording music for a television pilot and, while he can't give any hints, prepare to hear more from him, on both the big and small screens.
Dylan's new self-titled album comes out Saturday, and he's kicking it off with a release concert at Johnny & June's Ultrasaloon in Winston-Salem ( http://www.johnnynjunes.com).
"Just like the songs says, it all started with a batch of Carolina moonshine," he said.
View the video at http://www.reddirtrising.com.