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Filming a Southern Movie in Rome, Georgia with Jimmy Hall and Tommy Talton

by Michael Buffalo Smith

Ken Wheeler is betting the farm on a movie. Wheeler, a farmer from the Rome, Georgia area, is putting his money, heart and soul into the production of Dixie Times, a movie that he hopes will redefine how Southerners are portrayed on film. He says that his primary goal is to use real, honest to God Southerners in his movie, which centers around a small town Alabama newspaper called The Dixie Times, the kind of paper that puts a story about Joe Jones’ 50-pound turnip on the front page as major news. The kind of newspaper I myself have worked at way too many times.

Ken told me the plot also involves good ol’ ‘Bama moonshine, a legally blind Sheriff’s deputy, and a whole lot of small town rumors and intrigue. As it happens, it also features a couple of Southern rock icons, Jimmy Hall and Tommy Talton, who appear along with Tommy’s band in the guise of “The Mobile Homeboys,” entertaining at the hotel bar.

The hotel bar is actually our buddy Mike Proctor’s super secret private bar The High Lonesome, nestled among the pines a far piece back off of the main road near Rome. The very same one we have written about on several memorable occasions.

My wife and I made a last minute decision to drive down and witness some of the on set production. Besides being a new adventure in movie land, we’d also be seeing our friends again, Tommy Talton and his wife Patty; their sweet daughter Kathleen; Jimmy Hall; all the cats in Talton’s band; Terri Reeves from Music Matters Entertainment and her hubby; former Cowboy bassist Stan Robertson and his wife Sandy; my friends from Atomic Boogie; and of course club owner Mike Proctor and his wife Tara and all the usual cats and kittens. Oh, and I met a cool guy named Wendell Cox, the lead guitar picker for the great Travis Tritt. A guy I hope to get to know a lot better.

I sat around for a while watching them shoot a scene that featured Briscoe Tanner (Ken Wheeler) and Pauline (Kim Palmer)  talking at a table over drinks while a hot rocking band plays on the background.

The crew for the film includes Director Sherrie Petterson, a former Carolina girl; Sam Alder, Director of Production; Randall Blizzard, camera; and Raymond Wood, director of photography.

The crew spent a few hours filming a local country and Southern rock gospel band called Freewill Offering, and then everyone took a break for dinner. The movie people fed everyone authentic Mexican, and my wife and I enjoyed sitting and talking to Jimmy Hall and a couple of elderly ladies who had some amazing old Southern stories to share.

As for me, I had the time of my life goofing with Hall, Talton and his bassist Brandon Peeples. At one point we were tossing around potential names for the united Talton and Hall ensemble to use in the movie. Things like The Fourth of Juliars, Ta-Hall-Ton, and some long name Brandon came up with that incorporated the words “booty” and “funk.” They finally settled on a name Jimmy had tossed out, The Mobile Homeboys.

The band went into the backstage dressing room to change, and then it was time to film their segments. The audience was simply blown away by Hall’s “Long Goodbye” and “Holding On for Dear Love.” Tommy Talton scorched the fretboard and Hall sang from his very soul. Then came a couple of Talton tunes, “Color My Sleep” and “Time Will Never Change.” The band was stopped several times by the director, which, while necessary to filming, is about like being interupted during sex to a musician.

The music was great. We had hoped all day that there would be a big jam session after the shooting, but filming lasted until well after midnight, nixing our dream.

When it was all over, we mulled around and shot the bull with everybody for a while before driving some 20 miles back out of the woods to the Interstate, where we would stay overnight at the hotel before treking back home on Saturday, listening to Tommy Talton, Jimmy Hall and Bonnie Bramlett music all the way in. What a great way to spend the fourth.


All Photos by Buffalo Except Where Noted. SPECIAL THANKS to Stan and Sandy for the Loan of their new Camera!

PALS- Jimmy Hall and Tommy Talton.

ACTION! The crew shoots Proctor introducing the band.

READY - The film Director (center) Terri Reeves (Right) and the band preparing.

READY FOR HIS CLOSE UP- Mike Proctor, the club owner and an extra in the film.

THE NEW YARDBIRDS - Stan Robertson (former member of Cowboy), Tommy Talton, Jimmy Hall and Buff.

GUITAR MAN- Tommy tries out Stan's old Guild.

BASSMEN-  Stan with Brandon Peeples. (Sandy Robertson Photo)

SOMEONE ELSE'S SHOES- Tommy's new kicks.


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