Category Archives: Branson Shows

Five Reasons to spend Memorial Day Weekend in Branson

Silver Dollar City's iconic world class coaster "Wildfire."

Silver Dollar City’s iconic world class coaster “Wildfire.”

“Summer doesn’t officially start until June 21st, but in terms of Branson’s Summer Season it starts over Memorial Day Weekend,” said Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center (BTC). “Memorial Day Weekend in Branson features the unique blend of natural beauty, live entertainment, lakes, attractions, shopping, Ozarks heritage, and other exciting activities that earned Branson a place in the top 25 destinations in America in the ‘2013 TripAdvisors Annual Traveler’s Choice Destination Awards‘ and makes it the ideal place for families to have fun together, relax, and make memories that will last for a lifetime,” she added.

Here’s five great reasons to spend Memorial Day Weekend in Branson, four of which are great reasons to spend your vacation in Branson anytime:

1. Pristine Lakes: With three different lakes, and thousands of miles of shoreline along Table Rock Lake, Bull Shoals Lake and Lake Taneycomo, Branson is a virtual aquatic paradise offering boating, swimming and a wide range of other aquatic activities along with some of the finest bass and trout fishing anywhere.

Whether one enjoys the lakes from a sandy beach like “Moonshine Beach,” located just minutes from the famed Branson Strip; walking along the Branson Landing Boardwalk; hiking one of many lakes trails, by boat, canoe or kayak or while cruising aboard one of the cruise boats such the Showboat Branson Belle on Table Rock Lake or the Lake Queen or Landing Princess on Lake Taneycomo, there are many opportunities to experience the beauty and relaxation of Branson’s lakes.

 

Branson's Titanic Museum Attraction takes passengers on an exciting "voyage."

Branson’s Titanic Museum Attraction takes passengers on an exciting “voyage.”

2. Attractions and Activities: It is doubtful that there is a travel destination anywhere near its size that has the variety of attractions and activities that Branson has. Two million gallons of cool wet fun await visitors to southwest Missouri’s biggest water park, the Polynesian themed White Water, with its 13 acres, 7,200 feet of water slides and its new $1.7 million thrill ride “KaPau Plummet.” Its two 240-foot slides each launches riders from a drop-floor four stories in the air into a 70-degree plunge followed by a spiraling loop to the bottom. When you add in the iconic seven story multiple slide “Kalani Towers;” “Aloha River at Hula Bay,” with over 800 feet of “unexpected twists and turns, fountains, misters, bubblers, geysers, a 30-foot tall Tiki water tower and more,” it’s easy to understand why White Water is called “Mid-America’s Nearby Island Adventure.”

And that’s just one of Branson’s many attractions! From butterflies to tigers, world class coasters to cruises, sea turtles to sharks, championship golf courses to mini golf, zip lines to hiking, go-karts  and so much more, Branson has an unbelievable choice of activities offering fun and adventure for the whole family. These include the 1880’s styled international award winning theme park, Silver Dollar City, with its dozens of rides, shows, and craftsmen which will be celebrating its “Bluegrass and BBQ Festival” during the Labor Day weekend; the Titanic Museum Attraction; the National Tiger Sanctuary; the Butterfly Palace & Rainforest Adventure and many more.

 

Dean Z, as Elvis, performing during performance of Legends in Concert.

Dean Z, as Elvis, performing  Legends in Concert.

3. Live Entertainment and Shows: Branson is known worldwide for the quality, quantity and variety of its live entertainment. From shows as diversified as the Acrobats of China, Jonah and Amazing Pets to Branson paradigm shows like Presleys’ Country Jubilee and Grand Jubilee as well as an incredible variety of top quality shows such as Shoji Tabuchi, SIX, Legends in Concert and dozens more Branson offers an unrivaled choice of live entertainment options.

4. Shopping: Memorial Day and year around, Branson offers a unique world class shopping experience. Whether it’s an item handcrafted at Silver Dollar City or a unique item from one of Branson’s many specialty shops, malls, Historic Downtown shops, Branson Landing or the hundreds of other stores, Branson offers a choice of shopping that will delight even the most avid shopper. Where else in America can you shop at an old time “5 & 10” like “Dicks 5 & 10” in historic downtown Branson and be shopping in a complex like Branson Landing with its 120 shops, restaurants and $7.5 million dollar fire, water, and music “five” minutes later?

5. Fireworks: Memorial Day Weekend’s two major fireworks displays take place on Sunday evening, May 25, at dusk. One display will be at Big Cedar Lodge as part of its Patriotic Picnic and Fireworks event and the other at the Chateau on the Lake as part of its Memorial Day Celebration. The public is invited to both with the best views from Table Rock Lake, the property’s grounds, or in the case of the Chateau on the Lake, the peninsula area located just north of the Table Rock Dam.

Johnson reminds visitors that Memorial Day Weekend is not only the start of Branson’s Summer Season, but one of Branson’s busiest weekends of the year. She suggests advance reservations for shows and lodging to ensure nor only availability, but the best seating and accommodations. For additional information on Branson’s Memorial Day Weekend activities or information or tickets for any of Branson’s shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please contact the Branson Tourism Center by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

Why families can count on the Duttons for a great entertainment experience

 

Benjamin, Jessica, Abagail, Jonathan, Amy and Timothy during Finale.

Benjamin, Jessica, Abby, Jonathan, Amy and Timothy during Finale.

As The Duttons Show was drawing to a close on the afternoon of May 14th, I experienced, up close and personal, just how special this show and the family presenting it are as they performed their theme song, “You Can Count On Me.” Don’t know exactly what caused it, but as they performed and each of their families phased into the performance, the reality of the song and what I felt it meant to their commitment to each other and the type and quality of what I had experienced throughout the whole show touched my heart and brought tears to an old man’s eyes.

Like perhaps no other show in Branson, this show is a celebration of family as they share their family, and its considerable talents, with your family in one of the most entertaining family music shows in Branson. This show has been specifically designed, produced and presented, from beginning to end, to be as much fun for every member of the audience as it is for every member of the family that is performing it.

The core of the show, around which this fantastic entertainment experience is built, is the Dutton siblings Abby, Amy, Benjamin, Jonathan and Timothy; Timothy’s wife Judith; drummer Rob Wilson and the considerable instrumental and vocal talents of granddaughter Jessica. The instrumental and vocal talents of this core group alone is absolutely amazing. However, when coupled with performances by other family members, including some of the families 25 other grandchildren, and the artful and professional way they are seamlessly woven into the performances of the core performers, the result is a show that has more simultaneous moments of entertainment in it for every member of the family, adults as well as children, than any other music show in Branson.

The Duttons performing their inspirational and moving rendition of "You Can Count On Me."

The Duttons performing their inspirational and moving rendition of “You Can Count On Me.”

To me that’s an important aspect of this show. I am not aware of a show in Branson that is not suitable for children in terms of their content, but based on my personal experience, I can say that, with few exceptions, the vast majority of Branson’s music shows have not been designed with a consistent flow of material and performers that will appeal to the children in the audience as well as their parents, grandparents and other adults. This simultaneous ability to consistently entertain and appeal to both adults and children, on a peer to peer level, is an inherent magical part of this unique special show.

From its opening number, a full cast performance of “Uncle Penn,” to their finale, “Boil Them Cabbage Down,” it is obvious why the Duttons made it to the top ten on the NBC prime time hit show, “America’s Got Talent.” The talent of the Dutton siblings is the foundation upon which this show is built and what a foundation it is. Whether it’s the fiddle and violin playing of Amy or Abby, the dancing and humor of Benjamin, the playing of Jonathan, the multi-instrumentality and singing of Timothy the keyboard playing and singing of Judith or, as is often the case, a variation or mixture of any of the above, you can count on an experience filled with great music, fun, humor, entertainment and a special warmth.

One of my favorite numbers was “Cotton Eyed Joe.” It was musically performed beautifully; but, as they do so often during the show, it was “Duttonized” with their remarkable instrumental skill, a “black light” segment featuring some of the grandchildren and a demonstration of the superb dancing skill of Benjamin. The result was a unique and exciting performance that was as wonderful and colorful to watch as it was to hear.

This show has one of the most touching and sincere Veterans segments of any show in Branson, a unique dueling performance of the fiddle classic “Orange Blossom Special,” and a classical segment featuring an prelude by Timothy playing an introduction of “Capricho Arabe” on the classical guitar leading into Amy playing a combination of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons Summer Movement” with a touch of Vitoria Monte’s “Csárdás” that is spectacular. With a show filled with so many highlights, it’s hard to pick a favorite, and I’m sure yours will be different than mine, but here are my two favorites.

I loved the beginning of the second half as Timothy, on the guitar and Amy on the violin started playing “Viva La Vida.” As the number continued more family members were slowly added playing violins then, in a similar manner they withdrew leaving the original two. It was a simple beautiful moment of musical eloquence. Obviously, I also loved their performance of “You Can Count On Me” because, to me, it captures what makes the Duttons so special, their commitment to each other, entertaining their audience and sharing their family with us. Ok, I just have to add a third, I really enjoyed the Polynesian number “Tutuki,” performed by Bella Dutton, Jonathan’s wife, who is from “Soma;” her daughters and Rachel and Jessica. I would be remiss if I did not comment on the excellent job that Jessica Dutton does as she performs with her aunts and uncles. She is an accomplished violinist and, like her younger sister Rachel, is blessed with the vocal talents of her mom and dad, Tim and Judith Dutton. Young Master Timmy Dutton gave an excellent performance of “Danke Shoen.”

Cousin Julio, who looks a lot like Benjamin, trying to "horn" in on Jonathan's number.

Cousin Julio, who looks a lot like Benjamin, trying to “horn” in on Jonathan’s number.

Some who have seen the show, are probably wondering how Cousin Julio is doing. He’s doing fine and showed up trying to “horn” in for an audition for the show after being rejected last year. It was, from both a musical and humorous point of view a “hoot” and this time he got the job; well sort of, but you’ll see what I mean during the second half of the show.

By now you are probably asking, “Is there nothing in this show that was not a highlight?” Not much, not much at all. Previously I wrote, “From rock and roll to blue grass and country this show has a variety of music that has something for everyone. It’s not the shows content alone however, that makes the show so special. It’s how they present it, with that unique Dutton talent, instrumentality, flair, showmanship and innate ability to instill that warm directly ‘from our family’ to ‘you and your family’ feeling in its audience members, that makes this show the unique, special and wonderful Branson entertainment event that it is.” All I can say after seeing their show on May 14, is, “Ditto.”

For tickets or information for The Duttons Show or for any of Branson’s other shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements 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.

Momma Mia, Dancing Queen is fabulous!

The shows four featured vocalists Alex Webster, left, Heather Peterson, Maggie Moore and Tony Turner.

The show’s four featured vocalists Alex Webster, left, Heather Peterson, Maggie Moore and Tony Turner.

While attending the May 6th performance of Dancing Queen Abbas’s Greatest Hits, I picked M.B.F, from San Antonio, Texas at random and asked her what she thought of the show. She comes to Branson just about every year and said, “I loved the show, it’s fabulous.” When asked what she liked best about the show she said, “Everything! The dancing was fabulous, I loved the music, great costuming, high energy and beautiful choreography.” All I can say is, “Ditto, this is one fabulous show.”

The show’s opening number “Dancing Queen,” an all cast number with all the dancers and all four vocalists “sets the bar” in terms of the audience’s expectation of energy, wonderful vocal performances, incredible dancing, beautiful sets and special effects. From beginning to end that bar was never lowered.

Of course Abba fans will be delighted because so many of Abba’s greatest hits such as “Dancing Queen,” “Fernando,” “Take a Chance On Me,” and “Waterloo,” but the show also includes songs the 70’s, disco, Motown and more. As important as the song choices are it is their presentation by the shows four vocalists Heather Peterson, Maggie Moore, Alex Webster and Tony Turner that bring them to life.

Particularly during the first half, the majority of numbers combine two or more of the vocalists singing together, and what a wonderful job they do. From a vocal perspective, my three favorite numbers were the “Dancing Queen,” the trio performance of Alex, Heather, and Maggie featuring Alex in “Funky Music” and Heather’s simply beautiful solo performance of the 1941 classic “At Last,” the signature song for Etta James.

One of the show's many production numbers featuring vocalists and the dancers.

One of the show’s many production numbers featuring vocalists and the dancers.

As M.B.F pointed out, “The dancing was fabulous.” The shows dancers Jacqui Bell, Shelley Tees, Amy Louise Morlang, Ruth Robertson, Dasha Toropkina, Oliver Barrow, Jesse Barfield, Clarke Roberts and Lewis Darlington put on an incredible performance. A significant high energy precision dancing component, involving many different styles of dancing, is choreographed into the vast majority of the show’s numbers.

Their performance in terms of presentation, grace, beauty and seemingly boundless energy and enthusiasm was a joy to experience. Although the same can be said for the dancer’s performances throughout the show, in my mind, two that illustrate not only their incredible talent and versatility, but the powerful dynamic they add to the show would be their performance during “Fernando” and “In The Navy.”

As wonderful as the individual vocal and dancing components are, when they are combined together the result is a spectacular entertainment experience that is as beautiful to listen to as it is to see. Even though most numbers and each individual set has its own costuming, music and dancing they are choreographed into the show in a manner that creates a wonderful seamless entertainment experience where the 1 plus 1 of its individual parts equals 3 out of a perfect 3. What can I say, except, “Momma Mia, Dancing Queen Abbas’s Greatest Hits is one fabulous show!”

For additional information on Dancing Queen Abbas’s Greatest Hits or for tickets please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling 1-800-785-1550.

 

Exclusive Cruise With The Stars traditional Branson meet and greet on steroids

Branson stars such as SIX and ...

Branson stars such as SIX and …

“We truly believe that with the Branson Tourism Center, you don’t pay more, you just get more and our exclusive Cruise with the Stars event is just one example of how that happens,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing, for the Branson Tourism Center (BTC). “As Branson’s biggest ticket seller, with over 3,800,000 tickets sold, BTC has worked very closely with Branson shows and attractions for over ten years developing a special relationship with them that insures that its customers get the best seats and accommodations available and the opportunity to enhance their Branson experience by participating in exclusive events such as Cruise With the Stars, and other special events,” she added.

Billy Dean will be cruising with their fans.

“Branson stars are known for their willingness to meet and greet their audiences and interact with them in signing autographs, posing for pictures etc., but the exclusive Cruise With the Stars enables their fans to interact on a whole new level,” Wood said. She points out that Cruise With The Stars is an experience actually consisting of two separate Branson entertainment activities which have been uniquely combined into one exclusive “event.”

The first activity is experiencing the performance of the Branson show of the star or stars being featured on the cruise sitting in the best available seats in the house. The second activity, is going on an exclusive VIP luncheon cruise with the star(s) aboard Main Street Cruise Lines 100 foot luxury yacht, Landing Princess.

Along with a unique view of beautiful Lake Taneycomo, Branson Landing and spectacular Ozark vistas each VIP cruise will include lunch and an unparalleled chance to interact with the star(s) on the cruise. This includes opportunities for photos, autographs and a unique up close and personal experience that is available only to those who have taken advantage of the exclusive offer and purchased Cruise With The Stars tickets. While subject to change, here is the list of the stars cruising during 2014:

Billy Dean with Paul Harris & The Cleverlys – May 23
Legends in Concert Show – June 19
SIX – July 17
Grand Jubilee – Sep.13
The Texas Tenors – Sep. 18
John and Ambrus Presley, Presleys’ Country Jubilee – Oct. 7
The Osmonds, American Jukebox & the Andy Williams Christmas Show – Nov. 18

Wood reminds those interested that there is only one cruise for each of the stars scheduled, there truly is a limited number of seats for each Cruise With The Stars and suggests making advance reservations as soon as possible. For tickets or information on the exclusive Cruise With The Stars event please contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-875-1550.

 

Jarett Dougherty joins country great Billy Dean

Jarrett Dougherty and Billy, a wonderful combination of the best in country music and comedy

Jarrett Dougherty and Billy, a wonderful combination of the best in country music and comedy

If you want some great country music and zany comedy while in Branson here’s some great news. In announcing that one of Branson’s favorite comedians, Jarrett Dougherty, will be joining his Billy Dean Live show at Branson’s Starlite Theatre; Grammy Award winner Billy Dean said that he has had a great time and a lot of fun performing his shows at the Starlite this Spring, but “It’s going to be even more fun, and definitely sometimes crazy, adding Jarrett to the mix of entertainment we offer.” Dougherty will join the show starting May 13 and will be “creating a whole new cast of zany characters for the show.”

A native of the Ozarks, Jarrett has been “performing in Branson since 1995 and “his side-splitting humor has rightfully earned him recognition as one of Branson’s funniest comedians! While seeking a work-life balance Jarrett could not resist the opportunity to perform with country music great Billy Dean. Dougherty said, ‘I feel privileged to be given the chance to showcase my comedy alongside such great musical talents at the Starlite Theatre. It is definitely the hottest place for the coolest show in town!'”

General Manager Linda Merkling says, “Jarrett is a true pro and an excellent addition to our team! We are excited about his talent! Life is stressful and Jarrett is guaranteed to make you laugh and put a smile in your day!”

Country music superstar Billy Dean has been performing is currently performing the Billy Dean Live show with his hot band, “Steel Horses,” at the Starlite Theatre in Branson. They perform a dynamic mix of country rock plus all the hits you remember from the ACM Male Vocalist of the Year and Grammy-Winner Billy Dean, who owns over 20 hit singles, 11 Top Ten hits and 4 Gold Albums!

For additional information or tickets for the Billy Dean Live show or information or tickets for any of Branson’s shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please 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.

 

Seven Branson Insider Tips for May 2014

Launch capsule being lifted into place on top of White Water's "KaPau Plummet."

Launch capsule being lifted into place on top of White Water’s “KaPau Plummet.”

“Branson Insider Tips” is based on information gathered personally from local Branson contacts, the “Branson experts” at the Branson Tourism Center, the Branson CVB, social media sites and other sources. They are offered in the spirit of providing Branson visitors with some tips and highlights of what will be happening in Branson during the month of May that they can use in planning a trip to Branson.

1. Featured Show: Clay Cooper’s Country Express is perennially one of Branson’s most popular shows. “This show is chock full of variety, including New York’s number one cowboy, the trick roping and gun slinging Johnny Lonestar, and a fantastic live, seven piece band. Clay’s multi-talented wife, Tina, leads a dazzling group of dancers, and other featured performers including Colt Cooper, and Oklahoma’s little sweetheart, Ezrah Noell. Of course the show stars and is hosted by one of Branson’s most talented and engaging performers, the incomparable Clay Cooper!”

2. Special Dining Tips: Recently, on their Facebook Page, the Branson Tourism Center asked the question, “Where is the one restaurant / cafe you have to eat at when you come to Branson?” With 95 people responding “Danna’s BBQ” was recommended the most, but the majority of comments provide some neat information on a variety of Branson’s top restaurants not available anywhere else. Click here to view the post and comments.

3. Limited Engagement Performances:

Gene Watson Appearing At Larry’s Country Diner

Jimmy Fortune Appearing At Larry’s Country Diner

4. White Water debuts its new $1.7 million KaPau Plummet thrill ride: When White water opens for its 2014 season on May 17, it will debut its new four story high thrill ride KaPau Plummet. It starts with you standing on a clear acrylic floor looking down at where you are about to fall, waiting, anticipating the time at which that floor drops out underneath you and you fall at an angle of 70 degrees, reaching speeds of 26 feet per second as you traverse the 240 feet of the slide down four stories through a translucent tube.

5. Unique Mother’s Day Dinner Cruise: Treat Mom to a very special and unique Mother’s Day Dinner by taking her on a special dinner cruise aboard Main Street Lakes Cruises’ 100 foot luxury yacht the Landing Princess. In addition to a special Mother’s Day Menu and complimentary Champagne, Mom can relax while leisurely cruising on beautiful Lake Taneycomo amid the beauty of the Ozarks with those she cherishes.

6. Silver Dollar City Bluegrass & Barbeque Festival: This festival, held from May 8 through June 1, features some of the top names in Bluegrass music such as Rhonda Vincent and Rage, the James King Band and dozens more along with mouthwatering BBQ. Of course all this is in addition to everything else the international award winning theme park offers on a daily basis.

7. The Shindig Shuffle: As part of the Ozark Mountain Shindig, Branson shows and entertainers, with the cooperation of Branson visitors, will attempt to perform the world’s longest line dance on Saturday, May 31, 2014 between 10:30 PM and 11:30 PM.

For information on these and the many other shows, attractions, events and shopping that Branson has to offer please feel free to contact the “Branson experts” at the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-875-1550 daily from 8:00 AM to 9:30 PM CST.

Branson Up Close and Personal with singer song writer Billy Dean

 

Billy Dean

Billy Dean

Grammy Award Winner, Billy Dean, an ACM “New Male Vocalist of the Year” with 11 Top Ten Hits and over 20 hit singles, is currently performing his own show, Billy Dean Live in Branson. He came to Branson for his first extended stay performance last November and December and liked it so much he came back with his own show for the 2014 season. Dean shares his perspective on what brought him to Branson and much more in this exclusive “Up Close and Personal” interview.

“Branson Up Close and Personal,” is a service of the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services, and is intended to provide readers with an up close and personal look at a Branson star or personality. The interview with Billy Dean, (BD) uses a “Question and Answer” format with the interviewing being done for the Branson Tourism Center (BTC) by Gary J. Groman, a 28 year resident of the Branson area, local columnist and free-lance writer.

BTC: What is your first memory of Branson?
BD: Although I had appeared briefly in Branson prior to last year, my real first impression of Branson was this last November and December when I got to stay for a little bit and came to appreciate that all of the qualities and values that made America great are alive and celebrated here in Branson and I have not seen that anywhere else.

BTC: What first brought you to Branson as a performer?
BD: Years ago, performing at the Grand Palace, opening for Kenny Rogers.

BTC: What brought you back?
BD: Performing the lead in Kenny Rogers’ “Toy Shoppe” last November and December.

BTC: What made you decide to open your own Branson show for the 2014 season?
BD: When I realized that I could do bigger, better and more quality shows if I did not have to travel. I would also be able to present a show with lights, video screens, staging, crew, sound and everything else that would cost an enormous amount of money to do on the road.

BTC: Do you live in Branson now?
BD: I have never lived anywhere. I have traveled my entire life, but I do have a little farm called “Dean Acres” in Nashville and a condo here in Branson. We are basing our entire operation, touring and everything, out of Branson right now.

BTC: What do you like most about living in Branson?
BD: The quality of life. I’m a lot healthier being here, keeping off of planes and tour busses. It’s better for my voice and I am more productive because I am in one place and not traveling. It’s just a healthier lifestyle than traveling on the road.

BTC: What is different about the Billy Dean Live show and any other Branson show?
BD: I am not doing other peoples songs. I am doing a high energy fun country music concert performing, for the most part, my own music, featuring songs I have written and performed including “Somewhere My Broken Heart,” “Tryn’ To Hide A Fire in The Dark,” “Billy the Kid, “Let Them Be Little” and cover songs such as “Thank God I’m A Country Boy,” that were hits for me.. Last year Tony Orlando said that if I wanted to be successful in Branson I needed a hot band and to fill the show full of music. That’s what I have, a hot band called the “Steel Horses” and lots of “music per square foot.”

BTC: Why should I plan to see the Billy Dean Live show while in Branson?
BD What I do best is present the artistry of song writing and storytelling, which is to me the foundation of country music, in a high energy, fun filled and extremely entertaining concert format. If you like country music you will love this show as much as I love doing it.

BTC: If a ten year old child asked the same question the answer would be?
BD: I promise that ten year old that they will not fall asleep in my show.

BTC: What is your personal favorite song to sing?
BD: “Let Them Be Little,” a song I wrote for my kids when they were little. It had been six years since I had a hit and everyone said that I was finished and done. The message and power of that song touches people, especially parents on a deep level. That song went to number seven on the chart and stayed in the top ten for ten weeks.

BTC: Is it in the show?
BD: Oh yea.

BTC: What part of the show do you personally like the best?
BD: I do a really classic country Merle Haggard song, “You Take Me For Granted” that I love with just me and the steel guitar. It’s the old school country that I grew up listening to that you don’t hear much anymore and it’s a special moment with the audience just me, the guitar and the steel player.

BTC: Born Where & When?
BD: Quincy, Florida, April 2, 1962.

BTC: Where is home now?
BD: I still live in Nashville, on a little farm that I have called “Dean Acres as well as Branson”

BTC: Married?
BD: Yes to my wife Stephanie.

BTC: Family?
BD: I have a son who is in college and a daughter who is in nursing school.

BTC: What got you started entertaining?
BD: My earliest memory was hanging out singing with my dad’s band “Country Rocks”

BTC: How old were you when you first started?
BD: I started playing guitar and singing when I was in the second grade. It was something I grew up with.

BTC: How long have you been performing professionally?
BD: I was on Ed McMahon’s “Star Search” in 1988 which led to a lot of “session work” and my start in Nashville.

BTC: What was your big break?

BD: When my first single “Only Here For A Little While,” from my first album [Young Man] peaked at number 3 and spent 22 weeks on the “Hot Country Songs charts and my second single, “Somewhere My Broken Heart,” went up the charts and I was awarded the “ACM Top New Male Vocalist of the Year Award” for 1991.

BTC: What has been your biggest inspiration in your career?
BD: Being able to work with an icon like Kenny Rogers.

BTC: What’s your favorite thing to do in Branson when you are not performing?
BD: I like the lakes and love to go to Branson shows. Believe it or not, I’m the biggest tourist in the world.

BTC: If you could perform or meet with any entertainer/person (living or deceased) who would it be and why?

BD: I would have loved to have been in a circle singing some harmony with Elvis when he was singing gospel.

BTC: Do you have some little known fact about yourself that you could share with our readers?
BD: “Billy’s” not my name. My name is “William Harold Dean” and I grew up as “Harold Dean.” I never liked the name Harold, but I was named after one of my dad’s brothers who was killed in WW II. My dad’s name was “Billy” and he wanted a career in music, but because of raising a family, didn’t pursue it. After his death, as my career was developing, I changed my name to “Billy.” I can’t tell you how often since then, when I have seen the name “Billy Dean” on a marquee, that I think of my old man and say, “We made it together.”

BTC: What is the funniest thing that has happened to you in front of an audience?
BD: We were at a big outdoor festival in Wheeling, West Virginia and this girl got in a big fight with her boyfriend while I was performing. It kind of stopped the show and, as they yelled at each other, she chased him to into a “porta potti.” At that point I started singing “Somewhere My Broken Heart,” she looked up at me, turned back to the porta potti, and started shaking it until it fell and then rolled it down a little hill.

For additional information or tickets for the Billy Dean Live show please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling 1-800-785-1550 .

 

Acrobats of China is an amazing Branson experience

Amazing high speed roller skating feat with one skater hanging by a "thread."

Amazing high speed roller skating feat with one skater hanging by a “thread.”

Having seen the Acrobats of China Show featuring the New Shanghai Circus perform in Branson many times over the past 12 years, most recently on March 24, 2014, it is easy to see why the title for this show is commonly prefaced with either of the adjectives, “amazing” or “incredible” when mentioned. In a town known for its music shows, it stands alone for its uniqueness, acrobatics, color, action, excitement and broad audience appeal. It is one of only a handful of Branson’s excellent shows that is designed to simultaneously hold the interest of children and adults from the time the curtain raises until the final cast call.

The show’s action packed opening, featuring most of the cast members, has everything from tumbling and acrobatics to a Chinese Dragon and is one of the most colorful, exciting and fast paced openings I have ever seen and sets the stage for what is to come. And what comes is one act after another, each with its own introduction, choreography, colorful costuming and performers doing amazing things at a level of skill that is simply incredible.

I know that moving from one act to another is not an exciting thing, but with the number of different acts in this show it could have been a drag especially for children. Fortunately, not in this case. In fact, the way each act seamlessly transitions from one to the other, with no dead time in between, is handled with the same skill and precision that the performers demonstrate in their individual acts.

High flying Hoop acrobatics.

High flying Hoop acrobatics.

Acrobats of China includes many acts that most people have never seen before as well as acts such as high flying silks, juggling, hoop diving, contortion, human strength and chair stacking, but the Acrobats of China perform them in their own unique manner with a skill set so amazing that it is new and exciting and like you are experiencing it for the first time. I am amazed as I watch them perform each year, recognize the same skill in the act, but am seeing it presented in a different, fresh and innovative way that has me thoroughly invested in the performance.

Many of us have witnessed “Chair Stacking” acts, but how often have you witnessed one where the chairs were stacked about 30 feet high and the performer puts a bench on top, makes two stacks of “coke” sized cans, four cans tall and does a hand stand on top of them. Oh, and did I mention, he then does a “hand drop” from the top of the cans down to the bench on top of the stacked chairs.

As unexciting as they might appear when simply named, three of my favorite acts the Diabolo, Duo Table Skating and Bowel Flipping are incredibly exciting and unbelievable as they are performed in this show. The Diabolo is the Chinese yoyo. It seems like it would be hard enough to keep one of them moving on the string let alone having a troupe of acrobats dancing as they work them in synchronization throwing them back and forth, high into the air and doing other amazing things. It is truly an beautiful thing to see.

The audience just loved the Roller Skating act performed within a six foot diameter raised circle by two ladies. From the delicate intricate toe “candle skate” to high speed drama, with one hanging by her neck from the neck of the other, twisting horizontally to the ground as she was twirled around at high speed. As is the case with so many acts in this show, it was as breathtaking as it was beautiful, exciting and dangerous.

I have never witnessed anything as amazing as the “Bowl Flipping” act in this show. The performer is balancing on a rolling teeterboard on top of a table as he flips bowels to the top of his head using the board. When he was going for the fourth bowel I thought, “He’ll never make it, but he did.” I know is sounds simple and unexciting, but trust me on this one, it is about as exciting as it gets and it is anything, but simple.

In terms of precision, skill, color, pageantry, action, costuming, grace, beauty and elegance throughout its entirety, this is a show that is unique in Branson and will simultaneously entertain every member of the family. For additional information or tickets for the Acrobats of China or any of Branson’s other shows, attractions and activities or for lodging arrangements please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services. BTC may be reached by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

Material Connection

Shoji Tabuchi preparing for 26th Branson season after successful off season tour

 

Interesting shot of Shoji Tabuchi performing at Florida Strawberry Festival.

Interesting shot of Shoji Tabuchi performing at Florida Strawberry Festival.

“The off season this year was a whirlwind of activity for our show,” said Shoji Tabuchi. “We toured and played in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, South Carolina and Florida to the excitement and enthusiasm of many sold out shows and, of course, everywhere we went we shared Branson,” he continued.”

Tabuchi said that the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City, Florida was one of the special highlights of the tour where he was featured with the likes of the Oak Ridge Boys, Styx, Rascal Flats, Charlie Pride and many more as well as the cover of the February issue of “Lifestyles After 50” magazine “which was seen by almost 250,000 people.” While performing at the Strand Theatre in Shreveport, LA Tabuchi was presented with the keys to Bossier City, LA and a proclamation by Mayor Lorenz Walker proclaiming Dec. 13 as Shoji Tabuchi Day.

Tabuchi said, “I am really excited about beginning our 26th season in Branson on April 22nd.” He said the show will contain exciting new sets, new special effects, lighting and dazzling new costuming along with new choreography, new music and “as always” a surprise or two.

“It’s great to have Shoji back home in Branson and we congratulate him on the start of the 26th Branson season of the incomparable Shoji Tabuchi Show,” said Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center.

 

8th Annual Elvis Festival Will Rock Branson

 

2013 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest Finale.

2013 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest Finale.

BRANSON, MO, March 30, 2014 – “The Branson Elvis® Festival is a wonderful event for Elvis fans, but also offers another unique and exciting activity for Branson visitors,” said, Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. The 8th Annual Branson Elvis® Festival will take place April 4 – 6, 2014, at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater, the home of Branson’s Legends in Concert Show located on the world famous “Branson Strip.”

The Festival includes an “Elvis Meet & Greet Dinner, The Legends in Concert Show and Elvis Contestant Karaoke on April 4; the Elvis Vendor Village, featuring “Vendors from across the country selling unique Elvis merchandise,” the Hound Dog Contest, and the Ultimate Elvis® Tribute Artist Contest™ on April 5 and “Branson Gospel Sunday” at 10 a.m. on April 6 at the Hamner Variety Theater featuring “some of Elvis’ favorite gospel numbers.” The highlight of the festival, the Ultimate Elvis® Tribute Artist Contest™ is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 5.

The Branson contest is one of a select few tribute competitions sanctioned by Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. and “the winner of the Branson contest “will receive a prize package and the opportunity to compete in the 2014 Ultimate Elvis® Tribute Artist Contest™ finals presented by Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. in Memphis, Tennessee during Elvis Week.”

From a Branson show perspective, Branson Tourism Center’s Johnson suggests that the following shows might be of particular interest to Elvis fans Joseph Hall’s Elvis Rock N Remember Tribute, 100 percent Elvis; Legends in Concert with a major portion of the show as an Elvis tribute or the Rankin Brothers, with a “set” dedicated to Elvis fans. She also points out that at the time of the Festival the vast majority of all Branson’s shows and attractions, including Silver Dollar City, will be open for Festival attendees to enjoy as well as the spectacular beauty of an Ozark spring.

For additional information or tickets for the Ultimate Elvis® Tribute Artist Contest,™ or any of Branson’s other shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center (BTC), one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through its web site www.BransontTourismCenter.com