Two Rochester musicians create social media hit ‘Angels in the Rafters’

Messenger Post Media

Tommy Brunett doesn’t think it’s a coincidence that a song he started writing about 10 years ago has gone viral in the middle of the 2020 COVID confinement.

“I finally finished it just as the world really became impacted by the virus,” said the Rochester singer/songwriter, who is co-founder of Iron Smoke Distillery in Fairport. “At first, I was going to hold off on launching it but then my wife, Jen, puts it on Facebook late at night and it takes off.”

The song is called “Angels in the Rafters.” To many, it speaks to the pain of losing someone but also the comfort of having a guardian angel. With the world facing a killer virus, Brunett put the focus on angels in the form of health care workers when he created a slideshow and published the song as a music video tribute.

“I picked stills of health care workers, exhausted yet dedicated to caring for their fellow humans. Those photos really spoke to me and seemed to bring out the lyrics even more,” Brunett said.

Even his co-producer, Elvio Fernandes, who arranged the music and created the backing vocals, did not know Tommy was going to release the song. Fernandes saw it on Brunett’s Facebook page hours later and commented, “Completely honored to help create this song with you. Well done my friend.”

Brunett first conceptualized the song more than a decade ago while he was sitting in church thinking about the angels in his life and people who have passed on. After being encouraged by his producer, Felix McTeigue, to finish the song in January, Brunet went to Fernandes in February looking for help with the music. Fernandes, best known for his work as a keyboardist and vocalist for multi-platinum-selling artist Daughtry, listened to the original version of “Angels in the Rafters” and immediately jumped in as head engineer.

The song has a haunting melody and is described as a somber, yet celebratory anthem which includes phrases like, “There’s a pain beneath my chest” and “I’ve done my best and I can sleep easy.” Even though Brunett wrote the lyrics during a different time of his life, his words convey the uncertainty of this COVID era and provide a message of hope.

“With so many victims out there, I think we all want to know there are angels watching over us right now,” Brunett said.

Within hours of posting the song, Brunett saw the Facebook shares and YouTube views quickly multiplying. People began contacting Brunett.

“It started with personal friends ‘liking’ it, but apparently it resonates with a lot of people,” Brunett said.

Brunett has also been doing his part to keep first-responders and front-line workers protected from possible exposure to COVID-19. At his whiskey distillery outside of Rochester, he switched his entire production line from booze to alcohol-based hand sanitizer in late March. This has enabled him to keep 10 employees working on rotation and as of April 17, Iron Smoke Distillery had produced more than 41,000 gallons of what many consider “liquid gold.”

Brunett directed that a portion of the hand sanitizer be donated to organizations with first-responders, health care workers and front-line, essential workers. The Rochester Police Department, Fairport Police Department, West Webster Fire Department, Irondequoit Community Cupboard and Lollypop Farm are just a few of the organizations to receive shipments of donated hand sanitizer.

“We’ve already donated more than 3,000 bottles — 32-ounces each — to the people who are facing possible contact with this virus on a daily basis. We’ve pledged to give 1,000 bottles a week until this pandemic is over,” Brunett said.

The hand sanitizer is also being sold wholesale through Rochester Midland Corp. to companies declared essential. A very limited amount is being sold online to the public at $15 a bottle, with $4 going to out-of-work bartenders who register through Brunett’s website (

“I am doing whatever I can to help people affected by this virus. It will be awesome when everyone can come back to our tasting room, have a bartender pour them some whiskey and listen to live music. But for now, we have to do things differently,” Brunett said.

Visit to experience “Angels in the Rafters.” To order hand sanitizer for pick-up at Iron Smoke Distillery in Fairport, visit