Behind the scenes at the "Forever Texas" music video shoot
WORDS BY STEPHANIE FAULK
This article originally appeared in the Fall/Winter 2019 issue of VisitDallas The Magazine. To see the entire issue and read other features, click here.
From spirited shows at The Kessler Theater to the evolution of Deep Ellum, the history of Dallas music shows how a city has flourished alongside its rising, innovative artists. While the city's early history is steeped in blues and those who made it - Johnson, King, Walker and Ledbetter - Dallas is a city that has always embraced a diverse array of artists, more recently Erykah Badu and Nora Jones, both graduates of the famed Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts.
Live music is embedded in Dallas' DNA. Everything from soulful blues to sultry country and praiseworthy punk has taken center stage at one time or another - a fact that speaks to the city's malleability, versatility and hospitality as a home for artists.
One of those artists, the CASTRO band, partnered with VisitDallas to produce an original song inspired by the city.
"Dallasites are proud to live in this city and be a part of the community. We wanted a song to represent our city, and the CASTRO band was the perfect voice to capture Dallas' essence in a catchy tune," said Frank Librio, Chief Marketing Officer of VisitDallas. "They have an incredible story that represents Dallas' can-do attitude."
The CASTRO band is composed of brothers Jason and Michael Castro of American Idol fame. Jason, the oldest, became a favorite of judges and viewers alike on season seven, where he placed fourth. Jason went on to record acclaimed projects, while Michael surprised his brother when he auditioned for Idol the following season, charmed audiences and began releasing his own EPs.
The band's Dallas anthem, "Forever Texas," extolls the virtues of the city they love, and the state they call home.
"Now that I've traveled across the country and seen other cities, there's nothing like coming back home," said Jason. "You travel to other cities, you come home and you just feel proud to be from Dallas."
Last fall, the band and VisitDallas embarked on a two-day shoot to produce the "For- ever Texas" music video, following Michael, Jason and Jason's family as they enjoyed a day in Dallas, culminating in a live performance at Gilley's in Dallas' Southside neighborhood.
Writer Stephanie Faulk followed the video crew for a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a music video, Dallas-style. Watch the full video at visitdallas.com/forevertexas.
12:30 PM - Klyde Warren Park
My first day on the set of a music video and it's already way more chill than I anticipated. No glossed-up backup dancers or lasers, but then again that wouldn't be the Dallas way. We start in Klyde Warren Park with the full talent list, Jason, his wife Mandy and their three daughters, Madeline, Hazel and Josephine. They're already adorable and we haven't even started rolling. Michael plays the doting uncle, which, as it turns out, is exactly who he is in real life.
Klyde Warren Park is Downtown's most popular green space, and it's only six years old. A deck park built over a freeway, the park has been revolutionary for the city. This five-acre patch of park serves as the city's playground and town square. The food trucks are the hottest spot for lunch on a weekday, and weekends play host to families, couples and pets enjoying the park's many activations.
The crew films the family enjoying what would be any normal day in the park with Jason and Mandy playing soccer with the girls and chasing them around the tree house. They enjoy a picnic lunch, supplemented by a few food-truck goodies. When looking for a day out, Jason said, "Going Downtown to visit Klyde Warren Park and the Perot Museum of Nature & Science is always at the top of our lists. Klyde Warren Park is key with the splash pads, the playground, plus the food trucks for when you get hungry."
3 PM - Beto & Son
The girls break away for some rest while Jason and Michael move to the second location of the day, Beto & Son restaurant in Trinity Groves. Julian Rodarte and his dad, Beto, are the creative team behind the Tex-Mex favorite, and Julian is preparing his famous liquid nitrogen margarita for the shoot. After the cameras are set, Julian starts pouring and the preparation is as cool - punny, right? - as you would imagine.
As the freezing air spills over the bowl and sinks to the floor, the liquid nitrogen instantly freezes the lime and tequila concoction. What results is a beautiful snowcone-like margarita that Julian then tops with passion fruit boba. We all get a sample, and I can say it tastes as good as it looks.
Beto & Son is a part of the relatively new Trinity Groves development in West Dallas. Getting there is part of the allure as the drive takes you across the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava, a striking standout on the Dallas skyline. What started as a restaurant incubator, Trinity Groves is now a bona fide neighborhood with residential, retail and still some of the best eats in the city.
6 PM - The State Fair of Texas, Fair Park
Open every fall for only three weeks, the great State Fair of Texas is a feast for the senses, from the midway games to the fried food to the end-of-night parade. The girls are living for it. And try as they may to play it cool, Jason and Michael are pretty jazzed, too. The crew starts on the midway for shots of the Texas Star Ferris wheel and carnival games, the lights and action making for some great images. Michael challenges Jason to a ladder climb. I can't tell but I'm pretty sure they both lose.
The entire family goes in for a round of famous Fletcher's Corny Dogs. They were introduced at the fair more than 100 years ago and are still the stuff of legend. They also make for a pretty cute pretend-the-corny- dog-is-a-mic moment, with the added perk that you get to eat the mic in the end.
Although I know I'm following a music video shoot, it's hard to tell. The family, and everyone around them, is having a genuinely grand time. In my decade and a half in Dallas, I have been to the fair more than a dozen times. It never gets old - locals look forward to it and visitors get to view the perfect slice of Texas culture.
After the closing parade (it runs nightly), we wrap for the evening. Madeline, Hazel and Josephine were troopers, but we've all blown past our bedtime.
1:30 PM - Deep Ellum
The crew starts in the early afternoon in the hip Deep Ellum neighborhood famous for its musical roots, with Jason, Michael and friends. The band feels at home here and the first shots of the day run smoothly. We start at Pecan Lodge, one of the city's best barbecue restaurants and a Deep Ellum anchor. The ribs are a must, so we all try those, and then move to the patio for a musical moment with the guitar.
It's a little awkward breaking into impromptu song on a crowded restaurant patio, but we've got the cameras and Dallas is a friendly city, so everyone rolls with it. A few even sing along.
We pick up two more shots at Braindead Brewing, a brewery that also serves some pretty fabulous food, and Dot's Hop House & Cocktail Courtyard, a Deep Ellum bar with impressive outdoor space. Jason surprises everyone with his skills on a hand drum, ex- plaining that the brothers grew up with music at the heart of their home.
"There was always music in our house. One of my earliest musical memories was when my dad brought home a few albums by the Beach Boys and Elvis. He cranked up the speakers and we just listened and sang along with the family," Jason said.
3:30 PM - Pegasus and Reunion Tower
There are fewer images more iconic to Dallas than the red Mobil Oil Pegasus and Reunion Tower. Before the big concert shoot this evening, Jason and Michael head Downtown for their moment with these two historic landmarks.
The original Pegasus from Dallas' Mobil Oil building was restored and mounted at the Dallas Omni Hotel, and it's now at the prime height for the perfect Dallas selfie. A few blocks away, Dallas' iconic Reunion Tower makes its mark on the skyline - now the home of a renowned restaurant, Five Six- ty, and an observation deck, where Michael enjoys taking first-time visitors.
"We went there as kids and it's still such a cool place to visit. The 360-degree views inside Reunion Tower and the incredible food always bring me back," he said.
5 PM - Gilley's Dallas
We're in for a fun night as we film the band's live performance at Gilley's Dallas, a concert venue showcasing some of the nation's best talent. The band - Jason, Michael and three musicians - sets up to play on the indoor/ outdoor rooftop venue overlooking the Dallas skyline.
Dancing and drinks, singalongs and selfies, two camera crews capture it all. Four hours and almost twenty takes of the song later, it's a wrap. I find myself humming the tune for the next week and I know every lyric by heart, but I don't mind - it's pretty catchy.