July 26, 2018 – Country mega-star Luke Bryan’s new video, “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset,” which was released today, is focusing attention on one of the Upper Cumberland Region’s premier lakes, Dale Hollow Lake.
In late June, Sunset Marina on Dale Hollow Lake became the epicenter of the hit single’s video shoot, which included a top-secret visit by Bryan and his family to Sunset’s facilities just off Highway 111 near Byrdstown, Tennessee.
Tom Allen, General Manager of Sunset Marina explained that he was contacted about hosting the shoot by FLYHI Films’ Creative Director, Michael Monaco, who had pitched using the Dale Hollow Lake location to Bryan’s team because it was his own “favorite place on earth.”
“I know Luke’s got millions of fans – some faithful, some fanatical – so I wondered how can things could remain normal,” Allen admitted, but he was more than committed to welcoming the two-time Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year to Sunset Marina and the pristine waters of Dale Hollow Lake.
Sworn to secrecy, Allen and wife Angela launched into preparations for the film crew’s weeklong stay and Bryan’s June 26 arrival by telling the Sunset staff that the marina was anticipating an inspection from the “granddaddy of all inspectors.”
“The ‘Inspection Theory’ gave us a cover to do things that were a little bit unusual,” Allen said. “For example, Sunset’s houseboats were relocated in a manner that would give Luke some privacy by offering him a floating dressing room where he could conduct wardrobe changes for a possible video shoot on the docks.”
The cover was almost blown when a planning call reached the marina’s switchboard instead of Allen’s intended cell phone, but the secret remained intact until hours before the film crew’s arrival.
“I declared a social media blackout during Luke’s visit,” Allen said. “I asked our staff to be professional, to treat Luke, his family and their crew exactly like they treat every other customer – with respect and gratitude.”
When Bryan arrived in his tour bus, which was parked in full view of the highway, Allen was concerned that a throng of fans would flock to the Marina while filming was underway on the lake.
“Not only could the privacy of the shoot be disrupted, there was a real concern about safety,” Allen said, adding that he alerted the local sheriff as a preventative measure. “Sheriff Dana Dowdy agreed to help with traffic and crowd control when the houseboat arrived back at the marina from filming.”
However, it was the weather – not the fans – that created a disruption and elevated safety concerns.
“The heavy winds forced our houseboat crew to take the houseboat behind an island and secure it to the shore to avoid danger,” Allen said. “For well over two hours Luke’s family and film crew were stuck inside Sunset’s houseboat waiting out the torrential rain and thunderstorms, while Luke and his kids entertained everyone with dancing, joking and cutting up.”
After returning to the safety of the marina, Bryan retreated to his tour bus to prepare for more filming at Island View Overlook in Byrdstown.
“After filming at the beautiful overlook, Luke returned to his tour bus where the crowd in the parking lot had grown,” Allen said. “Another freshen up and wardrobe change and he was back out of the bus, again, obliging the crowd with ‘selfies’ on his way out to Sunset Dock for more filming. Luke performed in front of the cameras, while the evening sun was setting in the background.”
The Bryan family and the production crew finished the day with dinner at Pier 42 Restaurant. While Bryan continued on his concert tour, the film crew remained at Sunset Marina for the remainder of the week.
“We were thankful to have Luke, his family and his entire crew here,” Allen said. “Luke is a very humble and gracious person who truly appreciates his fans. It was obvious that he is a great father and dearly loves his family.”
Despite hosting a star who’s sold more than seven million albums and 27 million singles worldwide – not to mention being a judge on American Idol and the recipient of numerous singing and songwriting awards, the Sunset Marina and Pier 42 staff managed to treat June 26 like any other summer day on the lake, according to Allen.
“With all the rain and storms, Luke’s film crew said that it was not a perfect day for filming, but it was definitely a perfect location to film the video for a song like “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset,” Allen said.
To read Tom and Angela Allen’s personal, detailed account of the experience, see below. To plan a vacation at the beautiful region where the video was filmed, call the Byrdstown-Pickett County Chamber of Commerce at (931) 864-7195 or view http://www.dalehollow.com. Watch the video at https://youtu.be/8c08Oz8AovU.
The Day Luke Bryan came to Byrdstown
On Tuesday, June 26, 2018, Luke Bryan visited Byrdstown, the county seat of Pickett County, the smallest populated county in the State of Tennessee. He did so without much of the hysteria that normally follows him wherever he goes. We wanted to know just how this unannounced, unpublicized trip to Tennessee’s smallest county took place.
Since Luke Bryan’s visit seemed to be centered on Dale Hollow Lake near Sunset Marina, we contacted Sunset Marina’s General Manager, Tom Allen. The day after the news of Luke’s visit hit social media, we asked Mr. Allen if he would fill us in on the details of Luke’s visit. He agreed to do so, but not until Luke Bryan’s new video was released to the public. Fair enough. We asked Tom to contact us when the time was right, which was estimated to be sometime around the middle of July.
That day has arrived! Luke Bryan’s Music Video of his latest single, “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset,” has just been released. If you have not seen it, find it now and take a look. If you are not a Luke Bryan fan, you will be. If you are not a Dale Hollow Lake fan, you need to be. Wow! This is a wonderful music video, filmed right here in Byrdstown, and the great Upper Cumberland region of Tennessee.
Now, back to how all this happened. According to Tom, he received an email from Michael Monaco of FLYHI FILMS on Monday, May 21, with some really great news. Michael had proposed to Luke and his management team that the music video for his new single be filmed at Michael’s “favorite place on earth.” Michael asked Tom for permission to shoot this video at Sunset Marina on Dale Hollow Lake if Luke and his management team approved.
Apparently, it did not take long for Michael to get Tom’s response.
“Absolutely!” Tom replied. “Sunset’s Crew will roll out the red carpet. You just let me know as soon as you get approval from Luke and we will arrange everything you need.”
Michael cautioned Tom that no red carpet was needed, as Sunset Marina is special just the way it is. If Luke approved the video shoot, they would want normal marina operations with no need to change anything. Tom knew that Luke Bryan was a big deal. However, other than listening to Country Radio when driving, he admits to not keeping up with the music industry. “Huntin’, Fishin’ & Lovin’ Every Day” was understandably, Tom’s favorite Luke Bryan song, until now.
Despite his limited knowledge about the music industry and Luke Bryan, Tom began listening, reading and studying. One question plagued him: “How do you conduct normal operations when the Country Music Association’s (CMA) Entertainer of the Year (2014 & 2015) and a CMA nominee for this award almost every other year, is coming to visit your marina?”
He thought, “Luke’s got millions of fans – some faithful, some fanatical – so how can things remain normal?” Oh well, it may never happen, so no use worrying about it until it does, Tom figured.
On Tuesday, June 19, Tom received a message from Michael.
“Tom, we are coming to Dale Hollow next week! Let’s keep this a secret for now,” Michael wrote.
Over the next seven days, Tom’s text messages and emails were non-stop as Luke’s team prepared for his visit. Although details were tentative, Tom was informed that FLYHI FILMS would be there all week shooting for the video, and Luke could possibly arrive on Tuesday, June 26.
“How do you keep something like this a secret?” Tom pondered. “How do I get my crew to keep things normal, yet begin sprucing up the place? “As I always say, my wife, Angela, is my voice of reason.” Anything I could be concerned about, she adds some rationality.”
A few days in advance of Luke’s arrival, Tom informed Sunset’s crew that an “Inspector” was scheduled to be at Sunset Marina on Tuesday. Rumors around the marina industry were that this inspector was the granddaddy of all inspectors. “We need to get this place shaped up!”
This “Inspection Theory” gave Tom and Angela much-needed cover to be able to do some things that were a little bit unusual. For example, Sunset’s houseboats were relocated in a manner that would give Luke some privacy by offering him a “floating dressing room,” where he could conduct wardrobe changes for a possible video shoot on the docks. Sunset’s Crew worked tirelessly to prepare for the “inspection,” and a few of the crew admitted to thinking Tom was going a little “overboard.” A phone call to Sunset Marina’s office over the weekend from one of Luke’s crew, who thought they were calling Tom’s direct cell number, almost revealed the big surprise.
On Monday, June 25, Allison Gale with Freelance Film Production arrived at Sunset Marina, and things began to get real. Allison’s arrival, with the film crew raised some suspicion among employees, but Tom did not sense that the cat was out of the bag. On Tuesday morning, Angela began putting welcome baskets into all of the cabins and houseboats along with a welcome letter from Tom to Luke Bryan and his team. Angela knew Sunset’s housekeeping staff would see these items so she advised Tom that it was time to inform the crew the real reason for all the extra work.
Tom conducted a meeting with Sunset’s crew and revealed that the “Inspector” would be arriving soon, and that the inspector’s name was “Luke Bryan.” Tom received some puzzled looks, some dropped jaws, and one employee almost needed medical attention. He mandated a social media blackout for the entire day and informed Sunset’s Crew that Dale Hollow Lake and Sunset Marina could possibly be placed in the national spotlight as a result of Luke’s visit. He continued by asking his Crew to be professional, to treat Luke, his family and their crew exactly like they treat every other customer – with respect and gratitude.
Midday Tuesday, a big black tour bus rolled north on Highway 111 into Pickett County and into Sunset Marina’s Parking Lot.
“That thing is going to be hard to hide,” Angela told Tom.
Angela went to the bus to talk to the driver to help him find a spot in the woods out of the public eye. However, the driver insisted on a spot in plain site, as he needed to link up the satellite connection on Luke’s tour bus. Luke Bryan’s presence will be known soon, Tom worried. He informed Luke’s crew that they could no longer expect this video shoot to be a secret.
“The tour bus always breaks the silence,” Allison admitted.
Sunset Marina’s Austin Holloway and Brad Richardson, along with Tom and Angela departed Sunset’s Harbor aboard a houseboat with Luke’s family and film crew. In the mean time, Luke was launching his Sanger Surf Boat to go out for an afternoon of shooting video and some family fun. As the houseboat pulled out of the harbor, Tom’s phone began buzzing. Sunset’s Office Manager, Annie Masiongale was informing him that social media was on fire about Luke Bryan being in Byrdstown.
“Nothing I can do now,” Tom replied.
Fearing the arrival of hundreds of Luke’s fans, Tom called Sheriff Dana Dowdy, who agreed to help with traffic and crowd control when their houseboat arrived back at the marina.
Unfortunately, the video shoot out on the lake was cut short by an approaching storm. The heavy winds caused Holloway and Richardson to take the houseboat behind an island and secure it to the shore to avoid the dangerous weather. For well over two hours, Luke’s family and film crew were stuck inside Sunset’s houseboat waiting out the torrential rain and thunderstorms. Tom said that Luke and his kids entertained everyone with dancing, joking and cutting up, adding that Luke’s youngest boy is an expert at the ‘floss dance.”
The saving grace of the terrible storm was that the large crowd expected at the marina had not grown very large.
Once back at the marina, Luke and his family dried out in their tour bus while social media began to buzz. The crowd in the parking lot began to build. Luke’s film crew was glad to see the sun come out, but as it did, the crowd of fans grew larger. Around 5 p.m., Luke exited his tour bus looking refreshed. He obliged a crowd of fans by taking “selfies” then jumped in a vehicle with his film crew. Several vehicles followed and they were off to the Island View Overlook in Byrdstown. Luke performed in front of the film crew with Dale Hollow Lake in the background, while some passed by on Tennessee Highway 111 realizing a celebrity must be in town.
After filming at the beautiful overlook, Luke returned to his tour bus where the crowd in the parking lot had grown even larger. Another freshen up and wardrobe change and Luke was back out of the bus, again, obliging the crowd with “selfies” on his way out to Sunset Dock for some more filming. Luke performed in front of the cameras, while the evening sun was setting in the background.
After the sun vanished below the mountains and pristine waters of Dale Hollow Lake, Luke, his family and his crew enjoyed a nice meal at Pier 42 Restaurant, while some more fans arrived outside the restaurant. After dinner, Luke and his family left the restaurant and boarded the tour bus to depart to a scheduled performance in Raleigh, North Carolina. His film crew remained on Dale Hollow Lake for the remainder of the week filming for the video.
With all the rain and storms, Luke’s film crew said that it was not a perfect day for filming but it was definitely a perfect location to film the video for Luke’s hit single, “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset.” When asked about “The Day Luke Bryan came to Byrdstown,” Tom replied, “What a day! What a week!”
“The Sunset Marina and Pier 42 restaurant crews performed flawlessly, did not react star struck, and conducted normal marina operations just like any other summertime day and I am very proud of our crew,” Tom boasted. “We are thankful to Luke Bryan, his family and his entire crew for visiting us here in our little town of Byrdstown.”
Tom offered a very special thanks to Michael Monaco of FLYHI FILMS for working so hard to see his “favorite place on earth” featured in Luke’s music video.
It was evident that this event was both rewarding and challenging for Sunset’s crew, the week before the biggest holiday of the boating season – July 4th week. Most of the crew said that they are proud that Luke Bryan chose “Sunset Dock” as the site for his video and they look forward to meeting the challenge when the next “Inspector” visits Dale Hollow Lake.