ASHLAND A new documentary captures the creativity and talent that thrives along US 23, which might be better known as the Country Music Highway.
Greenup County Sheriff’s Deputies Larry Pancake and David Bocook teamed up on the project they called “Something in the Road: A Look into the Country Music Highway,” for which they interviewed stars of the country music from South Shore to Jenkins, as well as people familiar with the area.
In respectful tones, Pancake narrates the hour-and-36-minute film that examines the region’s difficult history with sweeping views of local towns as well as the Ohio River, railroads and roads, especially US 23.
It took the amateur filmmaking couple five years to complete the film, which they consider a first.
“I don’t know of any other film on this 144-mile stretch of road,” Pancake said. “I’ve never seen a documentary about the talent that comes from this region.”
The film pays particular attention to stars who grew up near the freeway, such as Van Lear’s Loretta Lynn, Sandy Hook’s Keith Whitley, Flatwoods’ Billy Ray Cyrus, and the late Gary Stewart of Jenkins. Pancake, who is also a singer-songwriter, said the two important people he met through his work in the music industry, including Vince Gill, Don Rigsby, the late JD Crowe, Del McCoury , Jason Carter, Larry Cordle, Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys, members of Sundy Best, Ricky Skaggs, Ned Crisp and many more. They also included comments from Herman Webb, who is Loretta Lynn’s brother, and Dwight and Flo Whitley, brother and sister-in-law of Keith Whitley, as well as Kentucky officials such as the former State Rep. Rocky Adkins, Kentucky Sen. Robin Webb and former Governor Paul Patton.
A self-taught filmmaker, Bocook said he discovered his passion for cinema when a German film crew followed him several years ago.
“We went to South Shore University and I took all my classes at Giovanni’s campus,” he said with a laugh. “I’m sitting in my cruiser on my lunch break and researching film.”
He said he and Pancake, who are close friends as well as colleagues, came up with the idea together and found they had some kind of creative chemistry when working together. He said the more they researched, the more fascinating he found the history of the Country Music Highway.
“It’s about the talent given by God to the people,” Bocook said. “(Despite their poverty) they can play any instrument and play to make you cry.”
Certain qualities always come up when talking about the people of the region: hard work, faith, patriotism, honesty, poverty. It was no different with the documentary.
“There are economic difficulties, but our people are staying here,” Bocook said. “This great music is born out of struggle, adversity and hardship.”
Although the filmmakers will not profit from the documentary, Bocook said he hopes it will help attract tourism to the area and raise awareness of the region.
“I love this area and the people of this area, and I think it’s cool to be able to sit down and tell a story about us,” Bocook said. “We’re not just a bunch of dumb, dumb hicks. I don’t know of any other place in the world where so much talent is produced. I just wanted to show how talented people are here and how great people are. good. We’re the kind of people who hold an open door for a woman.”
Pancake said he thought the film’s storytelling was important.
“We wanted to do something that hasn’t been done yet,” he said. “Because of my love for music and my love for where I live, I just wanted to educate people and tell them how much we appreciate this field. … I felt it was up to me to do it.”
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