Just about everyone is familiar with the term “Bluegrass music” and has heard a “splash” of bluegrass here and there, but comparatively few have had the pleasure of experiencing the variety and quality of Bluegrass music as presented in Branson by The Petersen Family Bluegrass Band Show. No glitz and glitter here, just some of the best Bluegrass instrumental and vocals you will hear in Branson combined with their special familial spirit, warmth and humor that makes it a wonderful 90 minutes of entertainment for the whole family.
Some might say, “Bluegrass, what do I care about Bluegrass and I have kids in my family, why would I like it?” That’s a fair question. In terms of the Bluegrass music there’s just something in its unique combination of the fiddle, mandolin, banjo, acoustical guitar and string bass that just seems to resonate with the musical instincts of most people. Kids relate to the show because they not only see the Petersen family, siblings Ellen, Katie, Julianne, and Matthew performing together with their Mom, Karen and Dad, Jon, but readily relate to their peers performing on stage.
From their very first number to the last, the Petersen family blends their considerable musical talents with a mixture of antidotes and humor, all personably “choreographed” by the shows MC, Katie, into a fast paced highly enjoyable entertainment experience. They waste no time getting the show off to a great start with the whole family, except for Juliann, who works the lights and sound during most of the show, performing “If Wishes Were Horses” which speaks volumes about the instrumental and vocal talents of the Petersens and sets the bar for what is to come.
The featured vocalist is Ellen who also plays the banjo, yodels and was a “Top 48 Contestant on the 2015 season of the “American Idol.” In fact, during the show she performs “I Want To Be A Cowboy’s Sweetheart,” the same yodeling and banjo number she used to launch her “American Idol” journey. In addition to being the MC, Katie, plays the fiddle and is also an excellent vocalist, as demonstrated by her beautiful performance of “Living Prayer,” the “2006 Gospel Music Association Dove Award For Bluegrass Song of the Year.” Julianne, who is running lights and sound during most of the show, also plays the fiddle as she joins them on stage occasionally. Really enjoyed her fiddle performance of the “Tennessee Waltz.”
Matthew does vocals and plays the acoustical guitar. His performance of “The East VA Blues” both vocally and on the guitar with an instrumental feature from his sisters was exceptional.
“Momma,” Karen, on the mandolin is just fabulous. It is a sound that is an inherent part of Bluegrass music, but to just see and hear the variety of ways she blends in to and adds to performance of her children during the show not only adds to the total enjoyment of the show, but is a blessing to experience. After watching her perform you too will not only understand where the refrain, “Get it momma” comes from, but will be yelling it yourself.
Jon, the dad, plays the string bass. Although not featured as a vocalist you will not soon forget his participation in the performance of “My Daddy’s Got A Gun,” an original song written by Ellen and Katie.
As I write about each show that I go to I usually mention a couple of my favorite performances. Ellen’s performance of “Carolina in the Pines” featuring her mom on the mandolin and Katie on the fiddle was one. The other was the family’s a cappella performance of the Hank Williams classic “Lovesick Blues;” what a beautiful job.
It’s also interesting to note that the majority of the show is performed using one microphone and is commonly used by groups when performing in Bluegrass music contests, including the “Silver Dollar City / KSMU Youth in Bluegrass Band Contest” to be held on May 23 as part of Silver Dollar City’s Bluegrass & BBQ event. It’s neat watching them “work the mic” during their performance.
The Petersens only perform one show a week and that’s on Saturday evening. What a wonderful way for families visiting Branson to share something unique and special together.
For more information on the The Petersen Family Bluegrass Band Show please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com.
* Picture courtesy PetersenBand.com .