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Photo courtesy Stephen Shepherd
Photo courtesy of Creative Artists Agency
Friday, April 26, 2013
When Kip Moore takes the Roanoke Civic Center stage tonight to open for Brantley Gilbert, he will be in familiar surroundings.
It will be Moore’s third trip to the Roanoke Valley in the past year. Exactly a year ago, he opened at Salem Civic Center for Billy Currington. In October, he opened for Eric Church at Roanoke Civic Center.
And both times, he played a song called “Beer Money,” which became a No. 1 hit on the Billboard country music chart. “Beer Money” got its traction in part from a video that featured a onetime Roanoker, Gordana Ban.
In the video (more than 3.7 million views on YouTube), Ban was the girl with the “kiss like honey,” while Moore was the guy with “a little beer money.”
In a phone call last week, Moore said that Ban was his only choice for the video.
“She’s a good friend of mine, and she’s a blast, man,” he said. “That’s why I got her to do the video, because I can be myself 100 percent around her. She’s just a good time, man. She makes me laugh. I knew I’d be comfortable.”
Video work is not her job. The 24-year-old is, however, a part-time model and actress.
“I just said, ‘Hey, look, I need somebody that can pull this off and I can be comfortable with, and I think you’re the girl for the job,’” he said.
Having her back
Ban lives and works in Chicago these days, but spent 11 years in Roanoke after her family moved here from Germany, by way of Croatia. She was still living in Roanoke about a year ago when she met Moore’s bassist, Manny Medina, on a magazine shoot. Medina introduced her to Moore, and the two became fast friends, she said.
“If you talked to him, you would forget that he’s a singer,” Ban said. “Just really nice. Super fun.
“He’ll pick on you if you let him, though. But I don’t let him. I give it right back to him,” she added, laughing.
She remembered Moore on set treating her like a friend, not a video girl.
For starters, he paid not just for Ban’s trip, but for her sister, Ivana Ban, too, “because he wanted me to be comfortable,” she said.
In a short and modest part of the video, Ban is shown changing in the pickup truck Moore was driving. The director wanted a shot of her in just her bra and panties, but Ban said she was uncomfortable with that. Moore backed her.
“That was actually my first music video, and I was pretty proud of myself,” she said. “I did not want to do things that would embarrass my family or my hometown. … Kip said, if she’s not comfortable with that, you have to take it out.
“Usually when a girl does not want to do what the director asks, they cut the girl and look for the next one. But luckily, Kip had my back.”
Riding the wave
The song was Moore’s second No. 1 hit — “Somethin’ Bout A Truck” was the first. Both came from his debut album, “Up All Night.”
Moore wrote or co-wrote every song on the album. In describing the feeling of having two top hits, the college-athlete-turned-surfer-turned-songwriter went with a sports metaphor.
“It’s the major league player that wins the batting title or the home run title,” he said. “It’s a great feeling. And I hope I get to feel it again.”
It took Moore a while to get around to moving to country music epicenter Nashville, Tenn. Once he did, it was no quick rise.
The 33-year-old south Georgia native played basketball and golf at an Alabama community college before transferring to Valdosta State University, in Georgia, where he played golf and spent a lot of his nights playing country music in the Valdosta nightclubs.
After college, he headed for the East Coast, where he says he “got hooked on surfing” and “bought a one-way ticket to Hawaii.” Moore backpacked, surfed, worked odd jobs and wrote songs there.
“That’s when I figured out … I’m not going to be happy with my life unless I’m doing music, so I packed up and moved to Nashville,” he said.
A publishing deal and a record deal (he is with the MCA label) were still a few years away when he got there. He found himself on some strange gigs — like a time in the Midwest, playing acoustically, with no sound system to sing through, in a waiting room by the entrance.
“I think people thought we were half crazy in that room,” he remembered.
It was one of many strange gigs, but this is a guy who went face first into a Hawaiian reef after a big wave got the best of him. He got a badly bloodied face and a concussion in the wipeout, but was on his board the next day.
“It’s a long, long process, but I wouldn’t have it any other way, because I think that those that have had a long route like I have end up having some longevity,” he said. “And I hope that’s the case with myself.”
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