The first thing that Kyle Biss and the other members of the Applebutter Express heard was that their song, "Hey My Brotha" was going to be in a movie. That was all they knew. It could have been some cheap straight-to video indie thing that no one would ever see.
They heard more about it little by little, and with each bit of news the band got more and more excited.
"We found out three months ago that it was going to be in a movie," Biss said. "Then we heard it was a Warner Bros. movie. Then we heard Reese Witherspoon was going to be in the movie. Then we heard it was a Ron Howard movie."
The film is "The Good Lie," a drama about young Sudanese refugees who dream of coming to America. When they do, Witherspoon shows them what life here is like.
"Hey My Brotha," or at least a good-sized chunk of it, will play during a scene that takes place in a Waffle House. Biss, who wrote the song, said he doesn't know
whether the song will be background music for the film, or whether it will be a song that's supposed to be playing on a jukebox in the Waffle House. But audiences will hear "Hey My Brotha" for almost a full minute -- 57 seconds, to be exact.
The movie is in post-production now, and it's set for a Oct. 3 release. Howard produced "The Good Lie," but didn't direct. The director is Philippe Falardeau, who has directed several respected films, but none that are widely known.
The Applebutter Express is a bluegrass-flavored, ukulele-driven band from Tampa has strong Bradenton ties -- they play here a lot and one member graduated from Southeast High School -- and their good-timey music makes them favorites all around West Central Florida. They also played at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Tennessee a couple of years ago. It's one of the largest and most prestigious music festivals in the country, and The Applebutter Express was first band from the Tampa Bay area to ever play there. At that time they'd only been together for about six months.
They signed a publishing deal a few months back, Biss said, and it was the publishing company that got the song into the movie.
Biss said "Hey My Brotha" is "a party song."
"It's about a typical Friday night for the Applebutter Express that'll go until 2 or 3 in the morning and no one's ready to stop," he said. "So there's an after-hours party and the music goes on."
Biss said he was thinking about Applebutter Express shows at Skipper's Smokehouse, a venerable Tampa music venue, when he wrote the song.
The song will be included on the new Applebutter Express album, "One for the Home Team," which will be released soon. (The band has one other eponymous album that came out in 2011.)
Having a song featured in a major film, Biss said, is probably the best thing that's ever happened to Applebutter Express.
"In 2012, we were fortunate enough to play at Bonaroo," he said. "But this is right up there with the coolest things ever. It's something we can show our kids. Even if we never play music again, which would be horrible, we'll always have this movie. And that's pretty cool."
The band's next local show is at 8 p.m. June 28 at McCabe's Irish Pub on Old Main Street in downtown Bradenton.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.