"New South," Trey Wilson, left, Jason Robinson, Mark McCauley and David Price, during their opening set.
BRANSON, MO, February 1, 2013 — In a previous review of the Grand Jubilee this writer said, “It might seem like a cliché, but the Grand Jubilee is truly ‘grand’ entertainment. I laughed until I hurt, listened to some of the most talented musicians and vocalists I have ever heard, in Branson or anywhere else, and was thoroughly entertained by a fast moving production that held my interest throughout. It was over all too quickly.” After seeing the new 2013 edition of this show on January 25 of this year all this writer can say is “Ditto.”
In that review it was pointed out that the elements of the show aren’t that much different from the Branson variety show mold that was cast by the Baldknobbers over 52 years ago and has worked so successfully for so many Branson shows. They have vocals, a live band and comedy, but that’s like saying because a pie has ingredients 1, 2 and 3 that it’s going to be a great pie. It’s not the elements or ingredients by themselves, but the the quality of the talent involved with each element and how they are woven together that makes the Grand Jubilee the “grand” entertainment experience it is.
The main vocal element of the show features “New South,” one of Branson’s premier male quartets, composed of lead vocalist, Trey Wilson, tenor Jason Robinson, baritone David Price and bass Mark McCauley. Individually these guys have great voices, but when they sing together it is a WOW blow your socks off kind of thing not only in terms of the vocals themselves, but their energy and ability to convey the feeling to the audience that they are not just going through the motions, but having a good time.
New South performs a variety of music from many different genres including pop, country, gospel, patriotic, gospel and more covering decades of hits. As important as what they sing is how they sing it. In this writers opinion, as good as each is individually, combined they have a power, voice range and synergy that is amazing. Although certainly subjective the group’s performance of “Antioch Church House Choir,” featuring Trey Wilson ,”Elvira,” featuring the bass voice of Bass Mark McCauley and “YMCA” are a few of many numbers illustrating not only New South’s vocal talent, but their ability to get the audience invested in the performance, the shows excellent costuming and some great moves. And speaking of “moves,” you won’t believe the moves Mark McCauley makes during the group’s performance of “YMCA.”
The beautiful and talented Jackie Brown,
The female vocalist is the extremely talented Jackie Brown. She performed a variety of music throughout the show demonstrating her considerable vocal talents. Her spirited rendition of the Dolly Parton song, “Baby I’m Burning” illustrates why it was one of Dolly’s favorite songs and her duet with Trey Wilson of “You Don’t Know Me” was simply beautiful.
It’s hard to describe just how good the “Grand Band” is and what an integral part of the show they are. It is composed of Michael W. Davis, Piano/Keyboard & Vocals; Wayne Massengale, Fiddle and Acoustic Guitar; Larry Allred, Bass Guitar; Rob Blackburn, Drums; Matt Hanshaw, Lead and Acoustic Guitar and Gene Mulvaney, Steel Guitar, Electric Guitar, Banjo & Band Director.
These guys just don’t sit back and play, they are seamlessly worked into many of the numbers of the show with featured segments in a way that makes the Grand Jubilee show unique among Branson shows. These guys are some of the most talented instrumentalists in Branson, both individually and collectively, enjoy what they are doing and convey that enjoyment to their audience. Two Band highlights was their rendition of what I believe was “The Grand Bounce” and Wayne Massengale’s fiddle duet of “Orange Blossom Special” Jamie Haage, who is also the show’s comedian.
"Jim Dandy," Jammie Haage, left and his faithful straight-man, the shows emcee and producer, Mike Patrick.
The multi-talented, Jamie Haage, who is one of Branson’s best comedians is the shows comedian and does an hilariously funny job of playing “Jim Dandy.” You’ve heard of “dark comedy,” well welcome to “orange comedy,” where, strategically placed throughout the show, Jim Dandy, along with his straight man, the shows Emcee Mike Patrick, will have you laughing until you hurt with a blend of comedy and one liners. It’s safe to say that after experiencing this show you will have a newly found appreciation for just how funny and magical a banana can be. Watching the metamorphosis of Haage from comedian to instrumentalist and vocalist is a special and unique thing to see and hear and testifies as to the versatility and talents of this “grand” entertainer.
No review of the Grand Jubilee would be complete without mentioning the shows Director and Producer Mike Patrick who is also the shows Emcee, Jim Dandy’s straight man and even plays a mean honky-tonk piano. This show is a wonderful blend of great music, comedy and fun that is simply a joy to see, hear, and experience. From its opening number to its stirring patriotic finale, the Grand Jubilee is a ‘grand’ entertainment experience that just might be two of the best and fastest moving hours of entertainment in Branson.