In 2000, I was hired as the composer for a CBS Movie of the Week. Titled
"Hazzard in Hollywood", it was a reunion movie of the popular "Dukes of Hazzard"
TV show. All of the original actors were involved (John Schneider, Tom Wopat,
Catherine Bach, etc.) with the notable exception of Denver Pyle, who had recently
As is often the case, they were behind schedule and I was asked to compose,
record and mix over 40 minutes of music, all in about 3 weeks. The producers
wanted the country/bluegrass sound of the original show, but updated with new
musical elements. I had a blast, writing music with hip-hop and rap beats, but
topped with fiddle, banjo, and steel guitar melodies. For the first time in years I
did most of my composing on the guitar and banjo, instead of at the keyboard.
The tight schedule required that the music be recorded in three days and mixed
on the fourth. We decided to record the entire score with just four musicians,
myself included. I pre-programmed all of the drum, percussion, and bass tracks,
and played the other keyboard parts on the sessions. Super session-player Mark
Casstevens played banjo, steel and gut-string guitars, fretted dobro, harmonicas
(including bass harmonica), and jaw-harp. Sam Bush (of New Grass Revival fame)
played fiddles, mandolin, and mando-bro, (an electric slide mandolin). And session
veteran Sonny Garrish handled the dobro and steel guitar parts. Warner Bros.
President and friend Jim Ed Norman was the producer of the score and with such
a great group of guys, the sessions were the most fun I've had in years.
The film's producer and writer, Bob Clark, flew in from Hollywood for the
sessions, along with the music editor and a legal assistant. Bob, having grown up
in North Carolina, was thrilled to be back in the South and to be in the studio with
a group of southern boys. As a writer, he'sfascinated with the southern tradition of
story-telling, and so the sessions became a story-and-joke-fest. We all took turns
spinning our favorite stories from the road, with an emphasis on the great catalog
of stories about bluegrass legend Bill Monroe and Grand Ole Opry star Grandpa
Jones. We decided that there is a book waiting to be written about the two of them,
but getting permissions and sorting out fact from legend could take decades.
Amazingly, we made our deadline, the show aired in April, 2000 to good ratings, and the "Dukes of Hazzard" skidded,
swerved and jumped their '69 Dodge Charger across our TV screens one more time.
Dukes of Hazzard
Sam Bush, Bob Clark, Jim Ed Norman, and
Dave Hoffner at the "Dukes" sessions