The Brothers Osborne give back

The year is turning into one of firsts for Port St. Joe.

Must be what happens when a major album release is carrying the name.

The ripple from the The Brothers Osborne decision to name their new album “Port Saint Joe” continued last week with the filming of a national Ram commercial which featured the brothers and the community.

And in addition to the profile the commercial brought to the band and city, the impacts were most obvious at the Port Theatre, which received a significant facelift in advance of last Wednesday’s filming.

“It was just a series of fortunate events,” said Natalie Shoaf, board member of the Port Theatre Arts and Cultural Center. “Everything just clicked into place.

“It was a really big thing for the Port Theatre.”

Those events started, in a sense, with The Brothers Osborne and producer Jay Joyce deciding to move their gear to Joyce’s Gulf County beach house to record “Port Saint Joe.”

The album has boomed since its April 20 release, currently ranked No. 4 on iTunes top country albums.

The opening act on their upcoming headlining tour of Europe, Kendell Marvel, recently purchased a home in Gulf County.

“They love the area and they wanted to give something back,” Shoaf said.

Enter Ram and its planned commercial, which will air during the upcoming County Music Association awards show in June.

The decision to film in Gulf County was made the week before production crews would arrive.

One of the scenes imagined for the commercial, in addition to filming in Salinas Park, the beach at sunset and other local spots, was a “concert” at the Port Theatre.

Ram provided a $15,000 grant to the PTACC to render the theater ready for its close-up.

The PTACC also put in some funding.

Now, cue Windolf Construction, Delores and Bob, with extensive experience in restoration of historic structures.

“Delores waived her fees and she called in all kinds of favors,” Shoaf said. “The community really came together to help. Not another builder could have pulled this off.

“We had to do the whole project in less than a week.”

Shoaf estimated the in-kind contributions locally likely equaled the Ram donation.

And silence was essential as the film folks wanted as natural a setting, including the people of the community, as possible.

“The community has just jumped through hoops without knowing why they were doing it,” Shoaf added. “The community just stepped up.”

The result, a new façade to the theater, new marquee, new ticket booth, remade front doors and new neon for all the lighting.

By Wednesday afternoon, at 5 p.m., with the Brothers Osborne on hand, the marquee beckoned those along Reid Ave. inside for a “concert” featuring The Brothers Osborne.

“Lots of locals got in it,” Shoaf said of the filming.

The “concert” required a further above-and-beyond from the community.

The Brothers’ guitars somehow failed to make the trip to Port St. Joe, so the word went out for anyone who might be willing to donate a guitar for the commercial.

Bo Spring stepped forward with one as did Zack McFarland, who managed to meet and have his guitar case signed by the Brothers.

“It was all just a neat experience,” Shoaf said.