27th Annual Fiddle Festival to be an amazing Branson Grand event at new venue

Wayne Massengale, renowned Branson fiddler, will host the competition.

Wayne Massengale, renowned Branson fiddler, will host the competition.

When the bow glides across the strings of the first fiddler in Branson’s 27th Annual Fiddle Festival, it will be the beginning of a Grand new era. Formerly held in either historic downtown Branson or at Branson Landing, basically under outdoor weather-dependent conditions, the Festival, running from August 28-30, will have a new home this year at the Grand Country Music Hall, located in the middle of the famed Branson Strip.

Mike Patrick, General Manager & Producer of the Grand Jubilee and the other shows performing in the Grand Country Music Hall, will be producing the Festival. Patrick said, “We are so honored and excited about hosting the Fiddle Festival. It just seems so neat that Grand Country, the home of the world’s biggest fiddle and Branson’s Fiddling Sweethearts, Wayne Massengale and Melody Hart, will be hosting this event. What a great weekend of fun, fiddling, and competition it promises to be!

Patrick points out that the actual competition will be conducted in the Grand Country Music Hall, the home of all Grand Country’s shows, and will be hosted by noted Branson Fiddler Wayne Massengale, widely known for his showmanship and fiddle playing skills; he won Branson Fiddler of the Year five times, as well as the Arkansas State Championship, and the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music Association (SPBGMA) Most Promising Fiddler award.

The Fiddlers will be competing for cash and the coveted title of Mid-America Fiddle Champion. The preliminary rounds will be held on August 29th with the Division Finals and the Championship Round Robin Competition to crown the overall Champion on Sunday, August 30th.

The schedule for the Festival, subject to change, is:

Aug. 28 – 5:00 PM: Anything Goes Contest!

The fun-filled weekend kicks off with this get-ready-for-anything “open-mic” event being held in Grand Country’s parking lot. Here, Cross-tuning, Trick, and Fancy Fiddling is allowed, and the applause meter will decide the four winners of the $50 to $300 prizes that will be awarded.

Aug. 29 – 9:00 AM: Mid-America Fiddle Preliminary Rounds

Competition begins in the Grand Country Music Hall featuring six different divisions of competition with awards and the opportunity to advance to the Finals.

Divisions include:

Pee-Wee (10 and under): 6 places awarded ($15 – $100)
Junior (11 – 16): 6 places advance to Finals.
Accompanist: 5 places awarded ($50 – $300)
Senior (60 & over): 3 places awarded ($100 – $300)
Adult (17 – 59): 5 places advance to Finals.
Open: 6 places advance to Finals.

The winners of the Pee-Wee, Accompanist, and Senior Divisions are awarded cash prizes while those making the top six in the Junior, Open and the top five in the Adult Divisions all advance to the finals.

Aug. 30 – 1:00 PM: Mid-America Division Finals and Championship.

Junior (10 – 16): 6 places awarded ($50 – $400)
Adult (17 – 60): 5 places awarded ($100 – $600)
Open: 6 places awarded ($100 – $800)

The top three will advance to Round Robin Competition at 4:00 PM to compete for the overall title of Mid-America Fiddle Champion, an additional $1,000 prize and a Championship Belt Buckle.

“It’s great to see the continuation of this event that celebrates our Ozarks history and heritage,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “The new venue at Grand Country, with all its live shows, central location on the Branson Strip, and production capability, will make this great event even more fun and exciting for the competitors as well as for those attending,” she added.

For more information about the Fiddle Festival, or registering to become a contestant, please call Grand Country at 417-335-3535.

A dozen things you will absolutely not want to miss in Branson during August 2015

Youth Baseball National Championship Aug 19-22, 2015.

Youth Baseball National Championship Aug 19-22, 2015.

“There’s always something that’s fresh, fun, and exciting to do in Branson,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “Here’s a list of a dozen exciting things happening in Banson during August, along with our Featured Show and Featured Event for August,” she added.

Featured Show: The Hits starring Collin RayeCountry music, at its core, is all about stirring the heart and healing the soul, and nobody does both better than the irresistible Grammy Award-winning Collin Raye. He has had over 20 Top Ten hits, including “Love, Me;” “My Kind of Girl;” “In This Life;” “I Can Still Feel You,” and many more.

Featured Event: Youth Baseball Network National Championship – Some great baseball will be featured during this inaugural championship that will include the 2015 12U Champions from AABC, AAU, CABA, Dizzy Dean, and NABF.

Aug 1-Sep 19: The Hits starring Collin Raye
Aug 1-29: Forever Young
Aug 4-8: ALL FRETS Convention
Aug 6-8: Shepherd of the Hills Super Summer Cruise
Aug 5-14: Prince Ivan
Aug 8: Rock The Spectrum
Aug 15: KidSTYLE Fashion Camp
Aug 19-22: Youth Baseball Network National Championship
Aug 27-Sep 7: Southern Gospel Picnic Festival at Silver Dollar City
Aug 28-30: 27th Annual Fiddle Festival Presented by Grand Country
Aug 29: Kansas

For additional information on these events, or 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 by visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

Presleys’ Country Jubilee Is A Branson Treasure Not To Be Missed!

Steve, Scott, Gregg, and John Presley performing  "Midnight Special".

Steve, Scott, Gregg, and John Presley performing “Midnight Special”.

From the time you walk into the theatre until the curtain goes down, a night with the Presley family at Presleys’ Country Jubilee is an unequalled Branson entertainment experience! As you enter one of the most home-like theatre lobbies in Branson, you’ll hear the sounds of gospel music drifting down from the pre-show gospel sing-along in the loft; smell Glazed Almonds and Pecans made from a secret recipe developed by Cecil, a.k.a. Eric Presley, and begin to realize that you and your family are in for a special evening.

Every time I enter the Presleys’ Theatre, I am overcome by a feeling of warmth and friendliness that, to me, just radiates the special spirit that is Branson. For example, there’s no line waiting to get into the theatre so they can take a picture of you and try to sell it to you later; however, there is a Presley cutout and Presley costume jackets provided so you can take a picture with your own camera. What a joy it was for me to see people having so much fun; not only taking pictures of their own family, but helping others to do the same, allowing whoever’s been holding the camera to get in on the family photo!

Then, as the curtain rises, you become part of a Branson phenomenon as Branson’s first show on the now famous Branson Strip, Presleys’ Country Jubilee, does what it has been continually doing since 1967…wowing audiences with its unique combination of music and comedy, presented by some extraordinarily talented vocalists, musicians, and comedians.

Vocalists Ambrus Presley, Kimberly Barber, and Devonna Wickizer

Vocalists Ambrus Presley, Kimberly Barber, and Devonna Wickizer

From their all-cast opening medley featuring “Gonna Have A Party,” to their stirring finale, “America,” the music in this show, while definitely having a country flavor, has something for everyone, including gospel, rock and roll, and more, all performed by some of the best musicians and vocalists on any stage in Branson. The show’s vocalists are Ambrus Presley, Kimberly Barber, Devonna Wickizer, Jay Wickizer, Tim Gregg, Chuck Crain, Scott Presley, and Bruce Haynes. A few of my personal favorite vocal highlights, from among many, would be Kimberly Barber’s performance of Tammy Wynette’s, “Stand By Your Man;” the performance of the Gospel Quartet composed of Jay Wickizer, Tim Greg, Chuck Crain, and Bruce Haynes; and Ambrus Presley’s performance of “Over The Rainbow” from the Wizard of Oz. The laser lighting used to accent her performance makes an inspirational and beautiful performance even more so.

The show’s band is comprised of Steve Presley, drums; Scott Presley, guitar; Greg Presley, harmonica; John Presley, piano and keyboard; Bruce Haynes, bass guitar; Dean Holman, steel guitar and banjo; and Cortland Ingram, fiddle. They do a great job in not only supporting the vocalists, but as musicians in their own right. Some of the instrumental highlights, for me, would be Cortland Ingram’s performance of the “Devil Went Down To Georgia;” John Presley’s version of “Chopsticks,” which is not only unlike any version I’ve ever heard, but displays his tremendous talents as not only a musician, but as an arranger and composer; and Greg Presley’s performance on the harmonica is simply amazing! It’s as exciting to watch him play as it is to hear him play.

"Cecil" and "Herkimer" during one of the comedy skits.

“Cecil” thinking if over before responding to “Herkimer.”

I just have to believe that one of the secrets to the long term success of Presleys’ Country Jubilee is not only the type and quality of its comedy, but the way it’s continuously and strategically woven into the show to give the audience an entertainment experience unlike any other. Since the Presleys’ opened on the Branson strip, Gary Presley, known on the stage as “Herkimer,” has been making the show’s audiences laugh ‘til they hurt! In combination with his son, Eric, “Cecil” in the show, their comedy is a unique blend of Ozark humor, one-liners, action, and skits that always seem to be relevant to current events. Their performance keeps the audience, kids and adults alike, laughing and wondering what to expect next!

Jay Wickizer, one of the show’s vocalists and its emcee, acts as the straight man or go-between in much of the comedy. I must confess that all I have to see is Herkimer and Cecil together and I start laughing; not only at what they’re saying or doing at the moment, but in anticipation of what they’ll do next…they’re just two really funny guys! One thing is for sure in this year’s show, you’ve never seen a punch line like Cecil delivers when he and Herkimer add their own comedic meaning to Muhammad Ali’s iconic statement, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

Every time I see Presleys’ Country Jubilee, I feel like I’m witnessing a Branson treasure. Alone, its origin, and the faithfulness of four generations maintaining the traditions and heritage of that origin, make Presleys’ Country Jubilee special. The spirit and the talents of the Presley family and the other cast members, combined with the musical variety and the uniqueness of the humor, blends together to create a show that flows seamlessly from one entertaining segment to another. With this formula, there can only be one result…a special, unforgettable Branson entertainment memory that should not be missed!

For additional information or tickets for Presleys’ Country Jubilee or 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 by visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

“Branson-Up Close and Personal” with Shoji Tabuchi

Shoji Tabuchi playing "Listen to the Mocking Bird."

Shoji Tabuchi playing “Listen to the Mockingbird.”

For over three decades, four words – fiddle, production show, and incredible – have been synonymous with the name Shoji Tabuchi and his show. The show has become a Branson icon, not only because of the talent of its star, but because of its production, choreography, costumes, leading edge special effects, and its supporting cast that includes Shoji’s very talented daughter, Christina, and great live band.

“Branson-Up Close and Personal,” is a service of the Branson Tourism Center (BTC) and is intended to provide readers with an unprecedented look at a Branson celebrity or personality. The interview with Shoji Tabuchi (ST) was conducted earlier this week for BTC by Gary J. Groman, a 29 year resident of the Branson area, local columnist and freelance writer, and is presented in a Question and Answer format:

BTC: What came first, the violin or the fiddle, and whichever it was, how did you learn to play it like you do?
ST: As I have said many times on stage, they are both the same instrument, it’s just how you fiddle around with them. My mother started me playing the violin using the “Suzuki method” when I was seven years old.

BTC: What caused you to start fiddling around with the violin?
ST: I started fiddling around with the violin when Mr. Roy Acuff and his Smoky Mountain Boys came to Japan and did a concert that I went to out of curiosity. It included “Listen to the Mocking Bird,” played by fiddler Howdy Forrester that just knocked me out. It was that song and the music and encouragement of Mr. Acuff that inspired me to start fiddling and come to the United States.

BTC: How did your mom feel about your change to fiddling around instead of playing the classical violin?
ST: My mom was a little questionable, but she was open about it. I had a problem with my violin teacher because initially she, “Wasn’t buying it.” Eventually however, they both came around.

BTC: When did you come to the United States?
ST: A long time ago – 1967.

BTC: How did you end up in Branson?
ST: I was working in and out of Nashville, as well as all over the country performing concerts. A friend of mine told me about Branson. It sounded really interesting so I decided to come and visit. I fell in love with the beautiful surroundings and with the warmth of the people who live here.

BTC: What is your first memory of Branson?
ST: The great fishing! I just loved the warm water fishing for bass in Table Rock Lake and being able to fish for trout in Lake Taneycomo.

BTC: How long have you been Performing in Branson?
ST: I have been performing in Branson for about 34 years, of which, 27 have been in my own show.

BTC: Why did you build your own theatre?
ST: Dorothy and I had a vision of the kind of show we wanted to present. There was not an available existing theatre in Branson at the time that would enable us to fulfill that vision, so we built our own.

BTC: The Shoji Tabuchi Show became the de-facto standard for a musical production show in Branson. How did that evolve?
ST: The theatre was specifically designed for a production show but, in addition, it is thanks to the vision, planning, and production of my wife Dorothy that we enjoy our reputation in that regard.

BTC: Your theatre has been recognized nationally because of its extravagant and unusual restrooms. How did they evolve?
ST: They were Dorothy’s idea. I was initially against the idea, but WOW, am I ever glad that she didn’t listen to me!

BTC: Who in your family is involved with the show?
ST: My daughter Christina sings and dances in the show and, along with my wife Dorothy, co-produces the show.

BTC: Recently you became a grandfather to a beautiful granddaughter. What is her name and the story behind how she got the name?
ST: Yukie Bailey-Jae. “Yukie” was my mom’s first name.

BTC: What do you like best about performing in Branson?
ST: The audiences, and being able to have my own theatre, which allows me to perform my show the way that I want to and permits me to give them the very best show possible.

BTC: What’s your favorite thing to do in Branson when you are not performing?
ST: I just love spending time with my family.

BTC: If you could perform or meet with any entertainer/person (living or deceased) who would it be and why?
ST: I would love to have seen and met Jascha Heifetz when he was alive. He was truly such an exceptional master of the violin.

BTC: In your career, of all the performances you have made and you have been in, no matter how big or small, which one personally meant the most to you and why?
ST: The performance that has meant the most to me personally was the first time my mom and dad came from Japan and saw me perform in my own theatre in Branson.

BTC: Do you have a favorite hobby or activity and what is it?
ST: I used to fish, fish, and fish; now, I golf, golf, golf, and do a little bit of fishing.

BTC: Do you have a little known fact about yourself that you think our readers would enjoy?
ST: I absolutely love to paint and also enjoy landscaping.

BTC: What is the funniest thing that has happened to you in front of an audience?
ST: It wasn’t funny at that moment, but is now. It’s one of those situations that can happen any time when you have a live show. In the Finale of the show, the first four pickup notes were in the same key of the previous segment that I played, which was a gospel number. My wife Dorothy, daughter Christina, and all of the cast were on stage ready for the finale and I started playing the gospel number again. The band did not know how to follow me and I fumbled around playing until I finally got back on track with the correct song. I don’t think that many in the audience noticed anything was wrong, but we certainly did!

BTC: What part of your current show do you enjoy performing the most and why?
ST: I love talking with the audience and the variety of music we play which runs all the way from Michael Jackson and Led Zeppelin to rock-n-roll, western swing, Gospel, and a lot in-between.

BTC: Of all the songs you have played in your Branson shows, which is your favorite and why?
ST: “Looking Through the Eyes of Love” from the movie “Ice Castles” because it’s such a beautiful melody and story.

BTC: Anything else you want our readers to know?
ST: Our goal, each and every year, is to have our guests come see the show and walk away saying, “I didn’t think it could get any better, but it has!” Making our guests feel, at all times, from the time they drive into the parking lot to the time they leave, that they are very special and deserve the very best. That is our daily goal. We want our guests to know that our dream of having our own theatre would never have been possible without their support. We would like to say a great big thank you!

For additional information or tickets for the Shoji Tabuchi Show or 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 by visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Five things kids will absolutely love doing in Branson

Silver Dollar City's new $8 million" Fireman's Landing" has ten rides and attractions for the younger kids to enjoy.

Silver Dollar City’s new $8 million” Fireman’s Landing” has ten rides and attractions for the younger kids to enjoy.

“Branson is packed with shows, attractions, shopping, and other activities for families to enjoy together,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center (BTC), one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services. “That said, we thought it would be interesting to see which of those activities people thought would be of the most interest to children between 8 and 10 years of age,” she continued.

To get the answer, BTC turned to those participating in their social media channels, particularly BTC’s Facebook page, and asked the question, “If you were bringing an 8 to 10 year old child to ‎Branson, what is the #1 attraction, show, or activity you would want them to see?” Dozens of Branson shows, attractions, and activities were named. Here’s the list of the five most popular things people thought 8 to 10 year olds coming to Branson would like to see:

1. Silver Dollar City: The number one activity was Branson’s oldest and most popular paid attraction, Silver Dollar City. It is constantly adding new reasons for families to come to the park and create special family memories that will last a lifetime. This year it added “Fireman’s Landing;” it contains 10 new rides and activities that families can share together; most of which are perfect for children between 8 and 10 years old.

2. Dixie Stampede: One of Branson’s most popular shows, Dixie Stampede offers families a wonderful feast, a great show featuring horses, pageantry, and action along with a friendly competition that appeals to all ages.

There's nothing quite like the thrill of a "Duck Splashdown." in

There’s nothing quite like the thrill of a “Duck Splashdown.”

3. Ride The Ducks: This extremely popular attraction is a boatload of fun for the whole family aboard a WW II style amphibious DUKW, a.k.a. “The Duck.” During the 60 to 70 minute adventure, you will enjoy a tour narrated by a U.S. Coast Guard licensed Captain, who is every bit as good at entertaining as they are at being a driver and captain. You’ll especially enjoy the big Splashdown into either Table Rock Lake or Lake Taneycomo. After the Splashdown, there is an opportunity for the kids to drive the Duck in the water. The area covered by the tour and the lake of the Splashdown depends on whether you board Ride The Ducks at Branson Landing or their Highway 76 location.

4. White Water: With over 13-acres and 2 million gallons of water, White Water is a wet, tropically-themed, wonderland of fun and adventure for the whole family! Whether it’s Splashaway Cay and Coconut Grove for the smaller children and toddlers, the excitement of sliding down the seven story Kalani Towers, or the thrill of the drops and speed of rides such as KaPau Plummet, Pipeline Plunge, or the Raging River Rapids, there is an adventure for every member of the family at White Water.

5.  The Track Family Fun Parks: Go karts, water bumper boats, and miniature golf were mentioned quite a bit as a favorite activity for this age group. The Track Family Fun Parks offers each of those activities in a variety of forms. In go-karts alone, they offer rides all the way from Kiddie, Classic, and Rookie go-karts, to the four-story high steel and concrete Heavy Metal High Rise.

For additional information on these and other Branson attractions and shows, please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services, by calling 1-800-785-1550, or by visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Why the Honeysuckle Inn & Conference Center is such a great place to stay

Entrance to Honeysuckle Inn & Conference Center

Entrance to Honeysuckle Inn & Conference Center

The Honeysuckle Inn & Conference Center (Inn) is a locally owned and operated hotel and conference center that has been serving Branson visitors for over 20 years. It’s known for its Ozarks hospitality and the quality of the facility.

Earlier this week, the Branson Tourism Center (BTC), interviewed Kristine Maples (KM), the Co-Manager of the Inn about what they have to offer Branson visitors. The results of that interview are very enlightening and are presented below in a Q & A format:

BTC: How many rooms does the Honeysuckle Inn & Conference Center have?
KM: 206

BTC: Is the Inn open year round?
KM: Yes

BTC: What are the major types of rooms you have?
KM: The majority of our rooms are Two Queen Bed and Single King rooms. We also have some King Comfort, which have a single king bed, but are larger than our Single King rooms and Queen Jacuzzi rooms.

One of the spacious "Two Queen Bed Rooms."

One of the spacious “Two Queen Bed Rooms.”

BTC: Do you have any Suites?
KM: No, but we have several of our Two Queen Bed rooms that are adjoining with a connecting door that opens into both rooms.

BTC: How often are the rooms renovated?
KM: The rooms are upgraded and renovated on a scheduled basis. Most recently all the mattresses and TVs were replaced.

BTC: Do you have an outdoor pool?
KM: Yes, and it is one of the largest outdoor pools in Branson.

One of the largest outdoor pools in Branson.

One of the largest outdoor pools in Branson.

BTC: Do you have an indoor pool?
KM: Yes we do and it is colocated with our hot tub.

BTC: Are you a smoke-free facility?
KM: Yes.

BTC: Do you permit pets?
KM: No.

BTC: Do you have a business center?
KM: Yes, we have a complimentary computer and printer for our guests to use.

BTC: What room amenities do you offer?
KM: Just about anything you would expect in a hotel room including free internet, hair dryers, cable TV, coffee makers, etc. We also have free coffee and cookies in the lobby during its hours of operation.

BTC: Do your rooms have microwave ovens in them?
KM: No, but there is a microwave available in the Guest Laundry Room.

BTC: Why should someone on vacation in Branson pick the Honeysuckle Inn and Conference Center?
KM: We have been serving Branson visitors for over 20 years, and are a locally owned, family oriented hotel that is clean, friendly, safe, and has a staff that is always willing to give that little bit extra for our customers.

BTC: How do you maintain quality control when cleaning rooms?
KM: First the Housekeepers, who are very good at what they do, clean the room. Then the room is inspected by the Head Housekeeper to ensure it meets our standards. If it doesn’t then the process is repeated until it does. The end result is a clean room that we are proud to offer our guests.

BTC: What kind of breakfast do you serve?
KM: We serve a hot continental style breakfast including biscuits and gravy, sausage, boiled eggs, make-your-own waffles, cereal, breads, and more.

BTC: Is there a fee to park?
KM: No.

BTC: Of all the amenities your property offers, what is your personal favorite?
KM: Our combination of a large separate outdoor pool and the indoor pool because it permits our guests, absent lightening, to enjoy a pool in just about any weather. They are also something our guests really use and enjoy.

BTC: How are you set up to handle conferences and groups?
KM: We have two different rooms for conferences and groups. One is a room for small conferences, groups, and family reunions which can comfortably handle about 24 in a social setting. Our large conference room can accommodate up to 120 with theatre style seating, and about 80 in a social setting. It has a kitchenette with a refrigerator, microwave, and counters. We also offer onsite catering, audiovisual aids, and just about anything else needed to have a successful meeting, conference, or reunion.

BTC: What do you think about the location of the Inn?
KM: Its location on Branson’s Red Route, near its western intersection with Highway 76, is ideal for getting to and from the Inn and just about anywhere else in Branson one would want to go using an alternate route to avoid Highway 76, and yet, we are seconds away from it when you want to use it. We are within walking distance of the IMAX Complex, and near the Shoji Tabuchi, Pierce Arrow, and Hamner theatres, and numerous restaurants including Golden Corral, Red Lobster, Casa Fuentes, and many more.

BTC: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about the Honeysuckle Inn?
KM: Although we are located right off a major road, our hotel is set back from the road amid four and a half beautifully landscaped acres, providing our guests with a quiet, relaxing lodging experience, including our unique water garden located near the porch by the lobby.

BTC: Is the Honeysuckle Inn and Conference Center a member of Branson Tourism Center’s Lowest Rate Lock Program, and what does that mean?
KM: Yes. It means that we work in conjunction with BTC in guaranteeing that the price our guests pay for lodging through BTC will be the lowest rate available. If they find a lower price offered for the same room on the same dates anytime between when they book their room and when they arrive in Branson, BTC will match the lower rate.

For additional information or reservations for the Honeysuckle Inn & Conference Center, at the lowest guaranteed rates, please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services, by calling 1-800-785-1550, or by visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

What are Branson’s most popular shows?

 

The Presley family and Presleys' Country Jubilee have continuously been Branson favorites ever since they opened the first show on the Branson Strip in 1967.

Presleys’ Country Jubilee has continuously been one of Branson’s most popular shows ever since the Presley family  opened the first show on the now famous Branson Strip in 1967.

“One of the questions our Branson-based Travel Planners are frequently asked is, ‘What are the most popular shows in Branson?'” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services and sellers of over four million Branson show and attraction tickets. “The answer to that question is subjective, illusive, and depends on many factors, but based on our marketing relationships we feel certain that the following are some of the most popular shows in Branson,” she added.

The following lists divide Branson’s most popular shows into two main areas, Resident Shows, those who perform throughout the majority of the Branson season, and Limited Engagement Shows, those who perform in Branson for a limited period of time during the season. In both lists, each entry contains a link to the show’s schedule, description, pricing, pictures, video, and other information, as available. The Resident Shows, list is sorted alphabetically while the Limited Engagement Shows list is sorted by the date of their first performance; it also contains the dates they will be performing:

BRANSON’S MOST POPULAR RESIDENT SHOWS

Acrobats of China
Amazing Pets
Andy Williams Christmas Show
Billy Dean in Concert with Jarrett
Branson Country USA
Buckets N Boards
Christmas Wonderland
Clay Cooper’s Country Express
Comedy Jamboree
Daniel O’Donnell
Down Home Country
Dublin’s Irish Tenors and The Celtic Ladies
Grand Jubilee
Hughes Brothers Christmas Show
Illusionist Rick Thomas
it starring the Hughes Brothers and their Families
Jonah
Legends in Concert
The Lettermen
Million Dollar Quartet
Moon River and Me
New Jersey Nights
New South Gospel
Ozark Mountain Jubilee
Paul Harris & The Cleverlys
Presleys’ Country Jubilee
Puttin’ on the Ritz
Shoji Tabuchi
SIX
Spirit of the Dance
Sunday Gospel Jubilee
The Haygoods
The Texas Tenors

Branson Tourism Center’s Wood points out that it is interesting to note that the list of Branson’s most popular Resident Shows covers a wide spectrum of entertainment, paralleling that covered by Branson shows in general. “It has everything from magic to acrobatics, music of every genre, comedy, concerts, and full production shows demonstrating the full breadth and quality of the live entertainment offered by Branson shows in general,” she said.

LIMITED ENGAGEMENT SHOWS

The Hits starring Collin Raye (Jul. 8-Sep. 19)
Ray Stevens (Sep. 12)
The Hits starring Mary Wilson (Sep. 21-30)
Bill Engvall (Sep. 26)
Boot Daddy Presents Rhonda Vincent (Oct. 2-4)
Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers (Oct. 16-17 & Nov. 5-8)
The Hits starring the Osmonds (Oct. 19-31)
Boot Daddy Presents Gene Watson (Oct. 20-22 & Dec. 3-6)
Boot Daddy Presents Jimmy Fortune (Oct. 26-27 & Nov. 16-17)
Boot Daddy Presents Dailey & Vincent (Oct. 28-29 & Nov. 19-21)

For additional information on any of these shows, or on how to save money by packaging, or bundling, shows with lodging, please contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550, or by visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

There’s definitely more to Branson Landing than shopping and eating

There's nothing quite like the thrill of a "Duck Splashdown." in

There’s nothing quite like the thrill of a “Duck Splashdown.”

Branson Landing, the 95-acre, $435 million public/private multiuse project is not only the largest development in Branson’s history but, since its opening in 2006, it has become one of its most popular attractions. Located on the Lake Taneycomo shoreline adjacent to historic downtown Branson the Landing is primarily noted for three things.

First on the list would be its world-class shopping experience, anchored by Bass Pro Shops and Belk, along with dozens of other local and national retailers. Respectively, the second and third would be its selection of fine dining, casual eateries, and intimate cafes that provide a variety of dining choices unrivaled anywhere else in Branson, and its spectacular $7.5 million water fountain attraction featuring the first-ever merging of water, fire, light, and music. The Landing fountains feature a choreographed show with water shooting 120-foot geysers and fire cannons blasting fireballs into the air.

In addition, did you know that while you’re at Branson Landing you can:

Main Street Lake Cruises "Lake Queen" plying the waters of Lake Taneycomo.

Main Street Lake Cruises “Lake Queen” plying the waters of Lake Taneycomo.

Go on Sightseeing Cruises: Main Street Lake Cruises offers 1.5 hour Ozark sightseeing cruises aboard the Lake Queen with departures four times daily at 11:45AM, 1:45 PM, 3:45 PM, and 5:45 PM. The 140 passenger riverboat replica, while maintaining the nostalgia of that era, offers a full set of modern amenities, is fully handicap accessible, has full sized modern restrooms, and offers a full bar and snack food service with an option for a Bottomless Pizza Buffet on the 11:45 AM and 5:45 PM cruises. The Lake Queen will operate through September 7. Starting September 8, the cruises will be aboard the 100 foot luxury yacht Landing Princess, with one daily departure at 5:45 PM. It too offers a full bar and snack food service with an option for a Bottomless Pizza Buffet.

You will see birds and other wildlife that abound on Lake Taneycomo and its shoreline; these sightings may include deer, River Otters, the Great Blue Heron, and Bald Eagles, among others. Amazing natural bluffs dating back eons of time, and the spectacular majesty of Ozark vistas not seen by the vast majority of the millions of visitors who come to Branson each year, will also be seen, along with a view of Branson Landing and its water and fire fountain show that’s as unique as it is beautiful and inspiring.

Ride The Ducks: Ride The Ducks offers a boatload of fun for the whole family! During the 60 to 70 minute adventure, you will enjoy a tour through the scenic streets of historic downtown Branson, College of the Ozarks, a big Splashdown into Lake Taneycomo, and a 25 minute cruise that provides a unique lakeside view of Branson Landing and its spectacular fountains. Tours are narrated by U.S. Coast Guard licensed Captains who are every bit as good at entertaining as they are at being a driver and captain! After the Splashdown, there is an opportunity for kids to drive the Duck.

Zipline Across Lake Taneycomo: Parakeet Pete’s Zipline, next door to Famous Dave’s BBQ, provides a unique zipline experience that has you soaring high across Lake Taneycomo to the top of Mount Branson. The ride requires no harness or participation by the rider except getting strapped into the seat and enjoying the experience. Along the way you will get an amazing view of Lake Taneycomo and historic downtown Branson and experience the exciting thrill of the zip back across the lake to your starting point at the Landing. The zipline is open daily from March 1 through December 31 during regular Branson Landing hours and operates rain or shine, day or night.

Ride a Balloon High Above Branson Landing: Parakeet Pete’s Steampunk Balloon, located just east of Belk on the Branson Landing Promenade, floats from 1 to 12 riders over 180 feet above Branson Landing, providing an amazing 360 degree bird’s-eye view of beautiful Lake Taneycomo, the Ozark Mountains, and historic downtown Branson. The balloon ride is open daily from March 1 through December 31 during regular Branson Landing hours, and operates rain or shine, day or night.

Walk the Branson Landing Boardwalk: The 1.5 mile long paved, level, and ADA compliant boardwalk runs the entire length of Branson Landing along the shoreline of Lake Taneycomo. It provides a convenient, easy, and safe way to view some of the lake’s wildlife and birds and the natural beauty of its constantly changing shoreline. You’ll also see activity both on and immediately off the lake including a unique lakeside view of Branson Landing and its spectacular fountains, Main Street Lake Cruises’ boats the Lake Queen and Landing Princess, other boats of all shapes and sizes traveling up and down the lake, riders enjoying the zipline, and much more. It is truly an ideal place for families to just walk and relax together for a special moment away from the normal hustle and bustle, and enjoy an environment that simply can’t be duplicated!

If you have questions on any of these activities or anything about Branson, 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 by visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Million Dollar Quartet brings a legendary night to the Branson stage in an absolutely amazing entertainment experience!

David Brooks as Jerry Lee Lewis, left, Brad Waters as Carl David Brooks as "Jerry Lee Lewis," on the piano; Brad Waters as "Carl Perkins;" Austin Wilson as "Jay Perkins," the bass player; Tyler K. Hunter as "Elvis Presley;" and Cliff Wright as "Johnny Cash"

David Brooks as Jerry Lee Lewis, on the piano; Brad Waters as “Carl Perkins;” Austin Wilson as “Jay Perkins,” the bass player; Daniel Dossey as “Fluke” Holland, drummer; Tyler K. Hunter as “Elvis Presley;” and Cliff Wright as “Johnny Cash.”

One of the greatest jam sessions in rock n’ roll history was an impromptu gathering of four young recording legends-to-be, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis, that took place on December 4, 1956 in the Memphis storefront recording studio of Sun Records. What’s really remarkable is that, except for one newspaper article, which dubbed the four “The Million Dollar Quartet,” and its accompanying photo, the jam session went largely unnoticed until recordings of the event were discovered and released decades later. That jam session, those recordings, and the four rock n’ roll legends involved became the inspiration for the Tony Award winning musical Million Dollar Quartet that shares the music, spontaneity, and drama of what happened that day, as these four legends performed together for their first and last time.

Over the last three decades, I have seen many Branson shows of all types, but never one like the Million Dollar Quartet! An outstanding cast, timeless music that everyone knows, and a great storyline combine with the show’s unique set and great production to create an incredible entertainment experience for the whole family that should not be missed.

Obviously, with the recording icons being portrayed and the music being sung it takes some special entertainers to pull it off, and the cast of Million Dollar Quartet does just that…and then some. Tyler K. Hunter as Elvis Presley, Cliff Wright as Johnny Cash, David Brooks as Jerry Lee Lewis, and Brad Waters as Carl Perkins do an exceptional job with hits such as “Matchbox,” “That’s All right,” “I Walk the Line,” “Riders in the Sky,” “Hound Dog,” “Peace in the Valley,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Who Do You Love,” and many more. From among many, two of my personal favorite musical highlights were “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” sung by Johnny Cash, and “Peace in the Valley,” not only because of the way it was sung, but how the storyline beautifully brought each of those in the jam session personally into its performance.

Derek Garza as Sam Phillips  having a heart to heart with Elvis Presley.

Derek Garza as Sam Phillips having a heart to heart with Elvis Presley.

As timeless and wonderful as the music is, it is the storyline, the historical moment it describes and the way it is artfully woven into the musical tapestry surrounding it that makes this such an entertaining show. Derek Garza as Sam Phillips, the founder of Sun Records, the man some call the “Father of rock n’ roll,” and the person who actually set the circumstances in motion that resulted in the jam session, does a superb job of dramatically narrating the story and tying its diverse elements together in a manner that kept me keenly invested throughout the entire performance.

It’s a story filled with interesting antidotes and historical facts about not only what happened that day, but the artists involved, how the record industry worked at that time, and the early history of rock n’ roll. Among them was why and how Sam Phillips arranged for the four musical icons to be together that day for the impromptu jam session; the angst Carl Perkins, the old man of the group at 24, felt towards Elvis Presley over Blue Suede Shoes; why Johnny Cash was leaving Sun Records for Columbia Records; the answer to the question in everyone’s mind of why Phillips sold Elvis Presley’s contract to RCA for $40,000 in 1955; the jealousy some felt about the emphasis Phillips placed on Elvis Presley, and more. Watching the relationship between Jerry Lee Lewis, the brash outspoken rookie of the group, and the others evolve is a hoot.

Dana Parker as Dyanna, does a great in her role of not only being the girl Elvis brought to the jam session, but in interacting with the four musical icons and Sam Phillips throughout. She also sings and I enjoyed her performance of “Fever”. Daniel Dossey plays W.S. “Fluke” Holland, the drummer during the jam session, and Austin Wilson rounds out the cast as Jay Perkins, the bass player and brother of Carl Perkins.

Replication of  "The Picture" taken near the end of the 1956 Jam session with David Brooks as Jerry Lee Lewis, left, ,Brad Waters as Carl Perkins, Cliff Wright as Johnny Cash, and Tyler K. Hunter as Elvis Presley.

Replication of “The Picture” taken near the end of the 1956 Jam session with the cast of the Million Dollar Quartet portraying Jerry Lee Lewis, left, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley.

How a simple recording session of Carl Perkins in the studio, with his brother and a drummer, evolved into the rock n’ roll jam session of all time as presented in the Million Dollar Quartet is a wonderfully entertaining experience in terms of both story and music. It’s nonstop fun, drama, and entertainment from beginning to end with no intermission. Oh, and a word to the wise, remember the admonition of Yogi Berra who said, “It ain’t over till it’s over” because, as Dathan Atchison, the show’s producer said, “The “party’s just starting at ‘The Picture.'” Don’t want to spoil the surprise, but “Wait for it” because it’s a grand ending to an absolutely delightful and completely entertaining show that ends all too quickly.

For additional information or tickets for Million Dollar Quartet please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services, by calling 1-800-785-1550, or by visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

Material Connection

Legends in Concert is to tribute shows what “American Pharaoh” is to horse racing

The "Blues Brothers," "Elwood,left," performed by Danny Zeligman and "Jake" performed by Chance Havens.

“Elwood Blues,” left, performed by Danny Zeligman and “Jake Blues” performed by Chance Havens doing the “Blues Brothers” proud.

Having seen both the Triple Crown horse races and Branson’s Legends in Concert show recently, I feel confident in stating that the Legends in Concert show is to tribute shows what “American Pharaoh” is to horse racing. It has the talent, glitz, glamour, and excitement of a Las Vegas production, and for good reason. It is owned and operated by On Stage Enterprises, LLC who started Legends in Concert in Las Vegas in 1983 where it, along with expanding to other venues such as Branson, has been performing continuously ever since.

J.C. Brando during "Adle" set.

J.C. Brando during “Adle” set.

The obvious stars of the show are the tribute artists which we will discuss later. Equally important, however, in terms of the wonderful time I had at the show, was the way the talents of each of the tribute artists was integrated with the talents of the dancers, vocalists and live band into a spectacular and unique entertainment experience that holds the audience’s interest from the beginning to end.

The Legend Dancers are Stephanie Drey – Dance Captain, Cindy Dardas, Jamie Curry, and Aaron LeMoine, with Kenya Wilhite and Desta Pritchett both dancing and providing backup vocals. Their considerable talents are demonstrated, one way or the other, during the majority of the numbers presented during the show as they accent the performance of the tribute artists and increase the audience’s overall enjoyment of the show. The very first number of the Brooks and Dunn set, “Boot Scootin Boogie,” dramatically illustrates this point.

The Legend Band, composed of Kevin Allen – Musical Director and lead guitar; Lyman Clark, keyboards; Brian Zerbe, bass guitar; and Bill Lowden, drums, did an outstanding job. These extremely talented musicians not only have to be ready for the styles of six different tribute artists and the stars they portray, but a vast variety of different types of music blended into those styles and, performer after performer and number after number, were they ever ready!

Jay Dupuis duirng  "Elvis" set.

Jay Dupuis during “Elvis” set.

From the very beginning, the hallmark of Legends in Concert has been the quality of its tribute artists. Each performer “not only looks like the star they portray, but uses their own natural voice to pay homage to their iconic music counterpart.” The six legends portrayed in the show I saw were “Brooks and Dunn,” performed by Doug Brewin & Larry Turner; “Adele,” performed by J. C. Brando; the “Blues Brothers,” performed by Danny Zeligman and Chance Havens; “Michael Jackson,” performed by Michael Knight; “Taylor Swift,” performed by Elizabeth Scarborough; and “Elvis Presley,” performed by Jay Dupuis.

There’s always a danger when one designates a favorite part of anything because their favorite part might not be yours. Recognizing that, here are my favorite number from each set: Brooks and Dunn, “Only in America;” Adele, “Rolling in the Deep;” The Blues Brothers, “Shout;” Michael Jackson, “Thriller;” Taylor Swift, “Blank Space;” and Elvis Presley, “If I Can Dream.” The Thriller number and the shows Rocking Finale are two more perfect examples of why Legends in Concert is one of Branson’s most popular shows.

Each act was a wonderful mini-concert containing only the hits of the Legend being portrayed, and was presented with the expressions, moves, mannerisms, and sound that, to me, were about as close to the original as one can get. When those individual performances are combined with elaborate theatrical sets, magnificent costumes and full array of incredible special effects, including three dimensional multimedia and multimillion dollar, state-of-the-art lighting, laser and sound systems;” the live band, dancers, and vocalists, the result is a spectacular production that is not only unique, but unequalled on any stage in Branson. It is truly a Legendary Branson show that should not be missed!

For additional information or tickets for Legends in Concert please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services, by calling 1-800-785-1550, or by visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com .

 

Material Connection