PITTSFORD, N.Y. (WROC) — It was a simple offer: “Black or white, relax and have a beer.”
Best friends of different races, Benjamin Smith and Marcus Ellis set up in their driveway hoping people would stop by in an effort to build community and understanding following the death of George Floyd that sparked protests throughout the country, and here in Rochester.
Turns out, they were in for so much more than that — a digital visit from country music star Brad Paisley.
MORE | Black or white, relax and have a beer: Best friends of different races invite community for conversation and brew
Their simple message, and a powerful image of a white man and a black man clinking bottles and sharing a beer, spread like wildfire on social media. Thousands and thousands of reactions and shares across the entire country later:
“It’s insane,” Smith exclaimed. “It’s such a cool feeling that we’re making such a big impact across the community, and what seems to be across the US.”
And as Batman to his Robin:
“It’s awesome,” Ellis echoed. “It feels so great.”
That spread across the US made it to country singer Brad Paisley. As soon as he found out about the news, he mobilized his entire fanbase, and News 8 and the friends received message after message asking about the two best friends for Brad Paisley.
The Zoom call came in at 7 p.m. on Saturday, shocking the best friends.
“Man, I am so thrilled to meet you, face to face like this,” Paisley said. “I’m so inspired by you, and we thought we should deliver more beer than you could possibly drink … This is going to be a popular destination on this street.”
Hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of beer shipped directly to their house just hours before the Zoom call. Paisley bought out all of the the Bud, Bud Light, and Budweiser at AJ’s Beer Warehouse in Henrietta.
The timing couldn’t be better for Paisley, who just released a new song called “No ‘I’ In Beer,” and had partnered with Bud Light — the same beer that Smith and Ellis were sharing in our original story — to release a limited edition beer to that reads “Bud Lght” on the label.
He even treated his small but fervent audience to a live take of “There’s No ‘I’ In Beer.” The country mega star even hung around just like it was a block party for the next half hour.
“Love and alcohol, those two things just go together,” Paisley quipped.
Beer and camaraderie might be soothing salves in this time, but Paisley and the two friends have never forgotten the true heart of the message.
“I’m trying to hear out my friends in the black community, that’s what you guys are doing; together, the same thing,” Paisley said.
“I’m all ears, always have been, I’ve had big ears my whole life,” Paisley joked.
“It means the world, from space and back, it means a lot,” Ellis said.
“Through the rioting and protests, I felt like I was being torn apart, and it was rough,” Smith said, barely holding back tears. “And this is what builds it back up.”
The two have known each other for years. They met building cell phone towers together. They have very different backgrounds — Smith served in the Marine Corps, Ellis came from Long Island — but they’ve been best friends ever since.
“He’s my Robin,” Ellis said. “Batman and Robin, exactly what it is… I think we’re just goofy, silly, and fun to have fun, we don’t care what people say.”
You can find them on West Jefferson Road, near the intersection of Clover and Jefferson. They’re near Locust Hill Golf Club, if you want to take them up on their offer.
WATCH | Paisley’s full Zoom with Smith and Ellis here
Paisley had just re-released a song called “No I in Beer,” a song about the camaraderie over a beer, and he was blown away by the impact these local friends made on folks all over the country.
So much so, that a month later, The Beer Guys would be featured in the “No I in Beer” music video that Paisley released.