Ron Bridenback had never heard of hip-hop stars Macklemore and Ryan Lewis when a friend of the band stopped by and asked if it could use his ranch and driveway for a video shoot.
The friend, a farmer from Quincy and former roommate of Lewis, said he’d driven by many times before. They worked out the specifics of the shoot, then Bridenback called his son, Thomas, to read back all the details he’d written down.
“It said something about Macklemore,” he told his son. “My son said, ‘No way.’”
“He said you can’t be lying to me, because you don’t even know who he is,” Bridenback said.
It turned out the multi-million-album selling performers wanted to use Bridenback’s ranch as part of their state-spanning music video shoot for their song, “White Walls.” The video debuted online Monday and was shot around Washington, including parts of Kittitas County and the group’s native Seattle.
Bridenback, a truck driver and classic rock and roll and country music fan, did some online research to find out what he had signed on for, and found the duo’s video for “Thrift Shop.”
The video for the song, about getting deals thrift shopping, has been viewed on YouTube more than 417 million times.
“I thought that it was funnier than heck,” he said.
Staying out of the way
People started showing up for the shoot at Bridenback’s home on No. 81 Road on July 30.
His adult son and daughter, along with some other friends and family, came by to see the action, but everyone mostly tried to stay out of the way, Bridenback said.
One time, though, the video’s producers had to tell him to change course on his tractor when he showed up giving his grandkids a hay ride in one shot’s background.
The producers also wanted to keep the shoot as low-key as possible. A shoot for the video at Dick’s Drive-in in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood virtually shut down the area after drawing thousands of fans.
Some passing drivers, when seeing all the vehicles and 30-35 people gathered in Bridenback’s driveway, did slow down to see what was going on, and why there was a man running around in a mariachi outfit
“He’s up there jumping around, hip-hopping, doing his music, and people were wondering what’s going on,” he said.
For the most part, save a Daily Record reporter who was politely, yet insistently, asked to leave, no one seemed to take much notice.
Caddie with steer horns
The song is an ode to Macklemore’s Cadillac. The video — along with hip-hop luminaries Big Boi and Sir Mix-a-Lot and older women misbehaving at a raucous pool party — features multiple Cadillacs. One, a late-’60s convertible model, figures prominently in scenes shot in Bridenback’s driveway.
“If it’s got the old Cadillac with the steer horns on it, and it’s a convertible, then that’s them,” he said.
Macklemore, whose name is Ben Haggerty, showed up later in the afternoon, driving another Cadillac.
“It was the last year Cadillac put this hot engine in it,” Bridenback said of Macklemore’s ride. “That’s the only reason he wasn’t driving a brand new one.”
Bridenback let the crew use the entire house, he said. They were doing makeup for actors in his front room and they laid out wardrobe options for the shoot — glasses, cowboy boots, jumpsuits — all over his bedroom.
Photos with the stars
Work lasted several hours, with shooting around Bridenback’s ranch, in the Caribou Creek area and elsewhere in the county. For the most part, Bridenback said he tried to stay out of the way and let them work, but by the evening he wanted to go back in his house and see what was going on.
“Then I said, ‘All right, we need some photos,’” he said.
Macklemore gladly posed for pictures with family, and he and the crew were all very gracious, Bridenback said.
“He’s just a real down-to-earth guy, he was very appreciative,” he said.
Bridenback said he didn’t ask for compensation, but the crew did offer free VIP passes for him and his family to any of the band’s shows.
He said he’ll likely take them up on that, and that he’d like to meet the rest of the crew, including Lewis, the duo’s producer, who didn’t come to Kittitas County.
Bridenback recalled one question he had for his guest, and the answer suggested his ranch and the county might be rubbing off on the rapper.
“I said if you hadn’t become a famous hip-hop artist, what would you have become?” Bridenback said. “He said, ‘I think I would have liked to have been a cowboy.’”