Actually, how terrific is the amazing Haygoods show?

Beauty and elegance. upside down high flying excitement, and extraordinary special effects are just part of what makes The Haygoods such an amazing entertainment experience for the whole family!

Beauty, talent, and elegance, upside down high flying excitement, and extraordinary special effects are just part of what makes The Haygoods such an amazing entertainment experience for the whole family!

Based on over 30 years of seeing Branson shows and having seen the show on May 6, I can testify to the fact that it’s, “Really terrific!” The Haygoods show is a WOW, WOW, and WOW, on a Three WOW Index with three WOWs being as high as you can get! From the “Get go,” its two hours of the most unique, innovative, talented, energetic, personable, and exciting entertainment you will ever experience on a Branson stage.

An indication of just how special this show was going to be happened during the pres-how being presented by the extremely talented Cabot High School Jazz Band, from Cabot, Arkansas. Many Branson shows work with schools and other groups and give them the opportunity to perform a pre-show on their stage, that’s not unusual. I’ve seen many, but I have never seen one of the stars of the show come out and perform a complete number with those doing the pre-show. Imagine how surprised and delighted the audience was when Dominic Haygood came out and was featured with them on the saxophone playing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” It wasn’t just that he did it, within 15 minutes of the start of his own show, but the way he did it. The effort he put into the performance kind of set the tenor for the quality and heart of the entertainment that the Haygoods were about to present and, WOW, did they ever present it!

It’s first and foremost a music show with impeccable vocals and instrumentality presented by the six Haygood siblings, five brothers, Timothy, Patrick, Dominic, Michael, and Matthew; their sister Catherine, and drummer Dino Phillips, but it is so much more! Their very first number, Lionel Richie’s song, Dancing on the Ceiling, set the bar, not only vocally and instrumentally, but in terms of the show’s, excitement, energy, and audience expectation, not only with the way they performed the number, but the dramatic entrance of Michael Haygood from “the ceiling;” and that bar went nowhere except up from there!

The Haygoods, Timothy, left, Catherine, Dominic, Matthew, and Michael performing "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

The Haygoods, Timothy, left, Catherine, Dominic, Matthew, and Michael performing “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

Some sibling singing groups are blessed with a God given sound that makes their harmonies a joy to hear. The Haygoods have that blessing along with an instrumental talent that is amazing. When the Haygoods combine the two, a synergy is created that just has to be experienced to be believed. Except for intermission, they are on the stage for the whole two hours either playing, dancing, singing, or interacting with the audience. From a primary instrumental perspective Timothy plays fiddle and banjo; Dominic, fiddle and saxophone, Matthew, bass, Michael Guitar, Patrick, keyboard, and Catherine, who, playing the most instruments of all, plays anything from the harp to the fiddle.

Although Patrick Haygood is not "center stage" a lot he does a great job on the keyboards, vocals, and is playing the keyboard or giving vocal support on just about every number.

You don’t see Patrick Haygood “center stage” a lot, but he does a great job on the keyboards and impacts so much on just about every number in the show.

Musically, what makes this show so terrific is not just that some very talented performers are singing or playing. It’s the total experience that results when their entire skill and talent set is blended together with special effects and choreography, making each set a unique and amazing entertainment experience in a show where, although there is no individual star, each number sparkles brightly amid a Haygood galaxy of constantly changing stars. The show’s filled with WOW numbers, but three of my personal favorites were Born to Fly, with Catherine on vocals, featuring Dominic and Tim on the fiddle and banjo respectively; Cotton Eyed Joe as it literally lights up the stage , not only with great singing and playing, but some of the most marvelous and exciting specific effects I have ever seen on a stage during a live musical show in Branson; and the performance of Always On My Mind featuring Michael on vocal, Patrick on piano, and Dominic on the sax.

The music would be enough on its own, but there is a high energy tap dancing routine, special effects and lighting the likes of which you will not see on any other Branson stage, and the way the Haygoods interact with their audience, from a personal history perspective as well as from a light comedy and “drama” point of view. Even now however, I have to wonder just why the show’s producer, Dominic Haygood, won’t give “Banjo Boy” his moment of fame, especially after the support he gets from the audience and the dramatic way he “flies in” to start the second half of the show?

The music, energy, action, and special effects of The Haygoods show will captivate and hold the interest of all adults and most children simultaneously throughout the show. As the ads say, “Where else can you check out a guitar-playing LED robot rocking’ out to ‘The Cotton Eye Joe’” or “see an amazing harp player performing in a magical light up dress.” In a town filled with great live entertainment, this show is a WOW on so many levels. It should not be missed!

For additional information or tickets for The Haygoods or 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 visiting  www.BransonTourismCenter.com

Five awesome reasons to be in Branson for the Memorial Day Weekend

"KaPau Plummet" at White Water, Silver Dollar City's "Outlaw Run," Sight and Sound's "Moses" and Fireworks are just part of the fun and excitement in Branson over Memorial Day Weekend!

“KaPau Plummet” at White Water, Silver Dollar City’s “Outlaw Run,” Sight and Sound’s “Moses” and Fireworks are just part of the fun and excitement in Branson over Memorial Day Weekend!

“Summer doesn’t officially start until June 21st, but in terms of Branson’s Summer Season, it starts over Memorial Day Weekend,” said Preston Garrison, the Operations Manager for the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest providers of tourism services and information. “From its pristine lakes and beautiful Ozarks scenery, to its shows, attractions, and dozens upon dozens of other activities Branson is ready to share the fun, adventure, and excitement of summer with its visitors,” he added.

Although there’s literally hundreds of awesome reasons to plan to spend any summer weekend or vacation in Branson, here’s a list of five that specifically focus on Memorial Day Weekend:

1. White Water, Southwest Missouri’s largest water park, opens with two million gallons of cool wet fun ensconced in a 13 acre Polynesian themed “island” in the middle of the Ozarks. Its $1.7 million thrill ride, KaPau Plummet, launches riders from a drop-floor four stories in the air into a 70-degree plunge into a thrilling 240-foot spiraling loop slide to the bottom, and that’s just one ride! 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, and a 30-foot tall tiki water tower; and so much more, it’s easy to understand why White Water is sometimes referred to as “Mid-America’s Nearby Island Adventure.”

2. Branson’s Pristine Lakes, Table Rock Lake, Bull Shoals Lake, and Lake Taneycomo are a virtual aquatic paradise offering boating, swimming and a wide range of other water sports and activities, along with some of the finest bass and trout fishing anywhere. There are many opportunities to experience the beauty and relaxation of Branson’s lakes such as by boat, canoe or kayak; walking along the Branson Landing Boardwalk; hiking one of the many lakes trails; sitting on a sandy beach, or while cruising aboard cruise boats such as the Showboat Branson Belle, Main Street Lake Cruises Lake Queen or Landing Princess.

3. Fireworks will light up the Memorial Day Weekend sky over the Ozarks in two major firework displays at dusk on Sunday evening, May 29. One display will be at the Chateau on the Lake, as part of its Memorial Day Celebration, and the other at Big Cedar Lodge, as part of its Patriotic Picnic and Fireworks event. 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 to the west of its auxiliary spillways.

4. Moses, Sight and Sounds newest spectacular biblical production to perform in Branson, “is the most spectacular, technologically advanced, show that Sight & Sound Theaters has ever put on stage,” said Mike Pitman, the Business Development Manager for the theatre. This powerful and epic biblical story follows Moses on his quest for personal identity that would change the course of human history. Journey back to that time with your family and witness some of the greatest moments in biblical history; experience the exhilaration and celebration of the Israelites as they brush past you on their path to freedom; feel God’s awe-inspiring power as you sit in the midst of the parted Red Sea, and the moment He first speaks to Moses at the burning bush, all presented as only Sight and Sound can depict.

The iconic violin played by bandmaster Wallace Hartley as the Titanic sank.

The iconic $1.7 million dollar Titanic violin, played by bandmaster Wallace Hartley as the Titanic sank, on exclusive exhibit at the Titanic Museum Attraction through May 29.

5. The Titanic Museum Attraction’s exclusive Branson presentation of the $1.7 Million Dollar Bandmaster Titanic Violin through May 29. RMS Titanic bandleader, Wallace Hartley’s violin has become the iconic symbol of the Titanic saga. Found strapped to his body after the sinking, it was returned to his wife-to-be, only to be lost to the world until it resurfaced almost a century later. Now, for the first time since an unnamed owner took possession of the violin, visitors to the Titanic Museum Attractions will be able to experience for themselves, the overwhelming sense of emotion it evokes,” says Mary Kellogg-Joslyn, co-owner of the Titanic Attractions.

And that doesn’t include all the rest of the fun, excitement, adventure and live shows that Branson is noted for. BTC’s Garrison points out that Memorial Day Weekend is not only the start of Branson’s Summer Season, but one of the busiest weekends of the year. He suggests advance reservations for shows and lodging to ensure not only availability, but the best seating and accommodations. For additional information on Branson’s Memorial Day Weekend activities or information on 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.

 

You won’t want to say “Goodbye” to the George Dyer Show

George Dyer performing "How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You."

George Dyer performing “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You.”

Even as he sings his signature closing number, Time To Say Goodbye, if you are like me, and many others who have experienced the amazing George Dyer and his family perform in Branson, you are not ready for the show to end. His magnificent rich tenor voice is just a joy to hear as he covers a variety of music as only he can. Dyer’s amazing singing would be enough, but when combined with his personality, interaction with the audience, the unique way he introduces each number, one of the best live bands in Branson, and his extremely talented family, the end result is a wonderful and unique musical entertainment experience.

Clarissa and Kendra performing the "Flower Duet" from Léo Delibes' opera Lakmé.

Clarissa and Kendra singing the “Flower Duet” from Léo Delibes’ opera Lakmé.

Before we get to George, let’s look at some of the other major aspects of the George Dyer Show. George’s wife Clarisse, son Garrett, and daughter Kendra are all extremely talented, both individually and in combination with other family members, add another entertaining element to an already great show. Whether it’s Garrett and George performing a one of the funniest and entertaining exercise routines I have ever seen, while singing a Dean Martin/Frank Sinatra medley; Kendra’s unique version of I Dreamed A Dream from “Les Misérables;” George and Clarisse’s wonderful performance of Somewhere Out There, from “An American Tail;” or something else, each is performed beautifully.

My favorite family number was the trio of Clarisse, Garrett, and George singing Hallelujah. It was as inspirational as it was beautiful; a special moment that showed not only the innate vocal talent of this family, but allowed a glimpse into their commitment to each other and the One whom they serve.

George and Garrett Dyer during their unique and entertaining Dean Martin/Frank Sinatra medley.

George and Garrett Dyer during their unique and entertaining Dean Martin/Frank Sinatra medley.

To say the show’s band was outstanding would be an understatement. Long time guitar player, Bogie Bohinc plays guitar and is also the band director, with Will Clarke on keyboards, Daniel Dossey on drums and percussion and Shaun Munday on Bass. These guys play it all, from country to opera and everything in between, adding an exciting musical dynamic to the show that only musicians of their caliber can. Munday even displays his considerable vocal talents as he is featured singing the James Brown hit, It’s a Man’s World. A change of tempo by itself, gets even more so when Shaun is joined by George resulting in one of the most unique and entertaining renditions of that song ever.

I have previously described George Dyer as “Branson’s tenor extraordinaire.” His magnificent rich tenor voice is just a joy to hear as he covers a variety of music from country to Broadway, pop, rock, opera, and more. It doesn’t end there however, as his ability to connect to his audience and draw them into the performance with a genuine charisma and warmth provides a unique, amazing, and unforgettable entertainment experience not available anywhere else in Branson. From among many, three of my personal favorite performances would be Bring Him Home from “Les Misérables,” They Call the Wind Mariah from “Paint Your Wagon,” and How Great Thou Art.

Although the vast majority of the show has no opera in it, and every song George sings is a joy to hear and experience, why he is “Branson’s Tenor Extraordinaire,” takes on a special relevancy when he sings opera. Nowhere is that better demonstrated than when he ends the first half singing the popular “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s opera “Turandot.” It was magnificent!

The George Dyer Show is a one of a kind Branson musical entertainment experience that should not be missed. For additional information or tickets for the George Dyer Show, or 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 visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

One thing you should absolutely not miss at Branson’s Silver Dollar City?

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.

“One of the neatest things about Silver Dollar City is that it has so many exciting and fun-filled rides, shows, and activities to experience. Not only does it have something for everyone, but it has multiple things that everyone loves and that’s why it’s Branson’s most popular attraction and has been helping families ‘create memories worth repeating’ for over 50 years,’” said, Preston Garrison, the Operations Manager for the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest providers of tourism services and information.

Garrison’s comment was based on responses, from a portion of the over 32,000 people who interact with Branson Tourism Center’s Facebook page, to the question, “Branson’s most popular attraction is Silver Dollar City; what’s the one thing you would advise a friend visiting SDC for the first time not to miss?”

Interestingly, the vast majority of those responding, although asked for the “one thing they would advise a friend visiting SDC for the first time not to miss,” listed more than one. Perhaps the reason why is best summed up by the comment of Amanda Cox Cranfield when she said, “EVERYTHING- don’t miss a thing!”

Silver Dollar City is an international award winning 1890’s style themed park that, combined with Marvel Cave, around which it is built, is Branson’s longest continuous running attraction. It features six annual world class festivals, of which its Old Time Christmas is its longest running and most award winning; over 40 plus rides and activities, shows, demonstrating craftsmen, and much more. There is so much to see and do, especially if you take a tour of Marvel Cave, that many people buy a two-day pass which costs less than $6.00 more than a one day pass.

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

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

It has rides for every age from world class coasters, such as the exciting iconic Wildfire and the heart-pumping roller coaster, Outlaw Run®, voted the “Best New Ride of 2013” by Amusement Today, to rides and activities for the smallest members of the family, such as Happy Frogs, Lady Bugs and Half Dollar Holler. One of the things that keeps Silver Dollar City so popular is that it is constantly adding new things to see and do, such as the new $8-million-dollar Fireman’s Landing, featuring six new rides and four new attractions for families to enjoy together which was added in 2015.

Silver Dollar City is noted for the quality and variety of the food that is served throughout the park, from full meals to snacks and more, but let’s let two of the commenters sum it up in their own words:

Kevin L. Wilson: The succotash!!!!! The fried okra and corn and onions and grilled chicken and, well, I’m getting hungry.

Joe Slay: Kevin Wilson stole my thunder. I also recommend the kettle corn, pork rinds, funnel cakes, and fudge. Get to the succotash kiosk early ’cause the line gets long fast. Yeah, I’m all about good grub and SDC has it.

By age, it’s Branson’s oldest attraction, yet it remains one of its newest in terms of maintaining its freshness and excitement by constantly updating and adding exciting new things to see and do, making it the number one single paid attraction in Branson, both in terms of why people pick Branson as a vacation destination and what they actually do while in Branson. Why? Perhaps the words of Erin LeBlanc-Wise sum it up best when she answered saying, “The craftsmanship and peanut brittle….pretty much everything Silver Dollar City has to offer. It’s the best theme park ever!!!”

“Moon River and Me” is no Charade, it’s sensational Branson entertainment

Jimmy Osmond performing "Can't Take My Eyes Off You."

Jimmy Osmond performing “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.”

As would be expected from a show with “Moon River” in its title, Moon River and Me is first and foremost a musical tribute to the life, talent, and music of the incomparable Andy Williams. The “Me” in the title begs the question, “Who is ‘Me?’” When one realizes that it’s Jimmy Osmond, who at the age of three made his first TV appearance on the Andy Williams Show, was mentored by Andy throughout his career, and the friendship they shared, it’s easy to realize just how special this show is going to be.

The show starts with a short video “montage” of photos and video clips of Andy’s life, from childhood on shown on a large screen in the center of the stage. As it concludes with a clip from an interview, Andy says, “That’s what I want to be remembered for, my music,” and, as the screen rises, Jimmy Osmond does just that with the first of the show’s many songs remembering Andy for his music, a beautiful rendition of Charade, which was immediately followed by Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.

Charlie Green singing one of Any's earliest hits, "Butterfly."

Charlie Green singing one of Andy’s earliest hits, “Butterfly.”

In keeping with Andy’s tradition of fostering and helping young entertainers get started, Jimmy is immediately followed by a 19 year-old singing sensation from Great Britain, Charlie Green, who was a favorite with both fans and judges when he competed on “Britain’s Got Talent.” He became an ardent fan of Andy’s at the tender age of five when he heard him sing Moon River, which is still his favorite Andy Williams song. Charlie does an excellent job of singing Butterfly, one of Andy’s first hits, which was a Number 1 hit on the charts in both the U.S and Great Britain in 1957, 40 years before he was born, and Born Free.

And that’s just during the first few minutes of the show! Throughout the show, both together and individually, they performed a number of Andy’s hits which are accentuated with timely short displays of photos and short video clips shown the large center stage video screen that was lowered and raised as needed. The tasteful manner in which the large screen is integrated into the show for short periods of time, showing pertinent photos and videos, adds another wonderful dimension to the show.

Fully realizing that yours might be different from mine and picked from many, I customarily mention a few of my personal favorite moments from each show I write on. Those would be the medley of Andy’s hits that Jimmie and Charlie performed during the first half of the show, Jimmy’s performance of The Way We Were while photos and video clips were showing on the large video screen, and my absolute favorite, Jimmy singing Moon River live onstage, simultaneously with Andy singing it on the large video screen. It was so beautifully sung and choreographed.

Andy’s tradition of having variety in his show was also honored. Chipper Lowell, “one of the entertainment world’s most imaginative comedic masters of trickery,” presented his fast paced and energetic magic and comedy routine. It included audience participation, “mind boggling” magic and comedy that kept the audience amazed and laughing while wondering what he would pull out of his trunk next.

The “Moon River Band” performs a wide variety of music flawlessly throughout the show. This amazing group of musicians is composed of Greg Gray, -piano, vocals, and arranger; Steve Mason-drums; Gene Puckett-guitar and vocals; and Shaun Munday, bass and vocals.

Jay and Jimmy Osmond reminiscing with the audience.

Jay and Jimmy Osmond reminiscing with the audience.

The show also featured Jay Osmond in the second half performing on the drums, reminiscing about the Osmonds and their association with Andy, accompanied with pictures and video clips on the big screen sharing some of those moments. Jimmy and Jay closed out the set singing a couple of Osmond hits including One Bad Apple and Through The Years, which was also accompanied by highlights and pictures from the Osmond’s career shown on the big screen and touched my heart.

Moon River and Me is an awesome and touching entertainment experience, not only for Andy Williams and Osmond fans, but for anyone who loves great music. It has a short Branson run, ending on May 12 when it leaves Branson to perform in England later in the year. For additional information or tickets for this or 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 visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

The one thing that makes Presleys’ Country Jubilee so special

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

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

When the Presleys opened the first theatre, on what is now the famed Branson Strip, in 1967, they had no idea of the iconic status they would achieve or the millions of people they would entertain and whose lives they would influence. What they did have was a dream and, most important of all, the “togetherness” to achieve, sustain, and evolve that dream while keeping it relevant to the changing times and audiences they have been entertaining over the last five decades.

The following points, taken from recent interviews with Gary and Steve Presley and, with permission, from their book, “The Presley Family Story,” testify to that togetherness and why Presleys’ Country Jubilee has been, is, and will continue to not only be one of Branson’s most popular shows, but epitomize what Branson family entertainment is all about:

Mountain Music Theatre: When the Presleys originally built the first theatre on what has become the famed Branson Strip in 1967, it was built in partnership with the Drennon family and called the Mountain Music Theatre. Within three years of opening the Drennon’s had sold their interest in the theatre to the Presleys and the theatres name began its evolution to its current name Presleys’ Country Jubilee.

Ambrus Presley performing  "Over the Rainbow."

Ambrus Presley performing “Over the Rainbow.”

Miss Smith Goes On National TV: When young Ambrus Smith won Ed McMahon’s “Next Biggest Star,” on national TV at age 13 with her performance of Break It To Me Gently, she had been performing, very successfully, in a variety of Branson shows since she was eight. A few years later she started performing for Presleys’ Country Jubilee as a lead vocalist, met John Presley, and the rest is history.

High school sweethearts marry: Both Steve and Gary married their high school sweethearts; Gary to Pat Adams in April 1967 and Steve to Raeanne Miller in 1976. That tradition continued when Gary’s son Eric married his high school sweetheart Kelli Codgill in 2001.

Theatre or Boat Storage: Steve Presley said, “When we built the theatre in 1967, we built it with a flat floor and big double doors in the backside. We didn’t know how the business would do so Dad and Gary had the thought that, ‘Well, if it doesn’t work as a theatre, we can always use it for boat storage.’” Well, it has worked really well as a theatre for almost 50 years now, and as Lloyd Presley once, smilingly said to his sons, “Tell you what…we never had to store any boats in the theatre, did we boys?” In an interview on April 28, 2016, Gary Presley said that although the door is gone, the original opening and door frame is still there.

They Had to Have Real Jobs Too: When the theatre initially opened in 1967, in addition to performing in the show and working in the theatre until late at night, Gary and his mom, Bessie drove to Springfield every day to work at Royal Typewriter, Lloyd was a fishing guide, and Pat worked at Security Bank in Branson. There were some long days put in by those family members performing as well as those working everything from concessions, marketing, costuming, parking, fixing the air conditioning, and whatever else had to be done, but they did it together.

Branson Performance Record: In 1967, when they started performing in the theatre Gary Presley was 20 and Steve was 10. They have been continuously performing in the show since that time and set a new Branson record every night they perform.

Three generations of Presley comedy, Herkimer, Grandpa; Cecil, Son and Cecil Jr. Grandson

Three generations of Presley comedy, Herkimer, Grandpa; Cecil, Son and Cecil Jr. Grandson

Three generations keeps them laughing: Gary Presley, as Herkimer, has had the joy of working with his son Eric, playing Herkimer’s son Cecil in the show, for many years. In recent years that joy has been compounded as they have been joined for key spot appearances by Eric’s young son Ben, as Cecil Jr.

A Funny Moment Springs Up During Show: One of Gary’s funniest memories involves a spring that runs right under the front stage and the culvert outside where the water goes on down the hill. He said, “Dad and I used to keep our crawdads in that spring. It was so cold so they stayed good and alive. Well, one night during the show there came a huge rain, and that minnow bucket full of crawdads caught in the culvert just perfect and plugged it like a cork. It was more toward the end of the show, when I’m dressed in a nice suit, and all the water started backing up into the theatre. I was out there in that suit, waist-deep, trying to pull that crawdad bucket out of that culvert.”

Togetherness, values, and sincerity are keys to the Presleys’ success: Sure, the great entertainment that Presleys’ Country Jubilee provides is a major part of their success. However, at the end of the day it is the fact that “the audience can feel the fun that the Presley family is having onstage,’ their sincerity, and togetherness that adds to the audience’s experience and makes an evening with the Presleys so special.

Steve Presley said, “We give mom and dad all the credit for that. They raised us with good values and respect for each other, and we’ve tried to pass those same values along to our kids. We’re a family, and an audience can always tell whether you’re sincere or not.” Gary Presley adds, “From the very beginning it has been the whole family working together that built the theatre and made the show what it is today. It’s their combined efforts, contributing the very best they had, wherever and whenever it was needed, that has brought us this far on our wonderful journey together.”

Best of Branson Insider Highlights for May 2016

One of Branson's hottest new shows the Million Dollar Quartet, the incredible Ray Stevens, and the $1.7 million dollar Wallace Hartley Titanic Violin, pictured here with Branson's premier violinist, Shoji Tabuchi are just some of the amazing events taking place in Branson during May.

One of Branson’s hottest new shows the “Million Dollar Quartet,” the incredible Ray Stevens, and the $1.7 million dollar Wallace Hartley Titanic Violin, pictured here with Branson’s premier violinist, Shoji Tabuchi, are just three of the amazing things Branson visitors will enjoy during May.

“From the opening of most of Branson’s shows, attractions, and other activities to boating, swimming, and other aquatic sports and activities on Table Rock Lake, Branson’s exciting 2016 season comes roaring out of the gate during May,” said Preston Garrison, the Operations Manager for the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest providers of tourism services and information. It’s one of the most exciting months of the year with adventure, excitement, and entertainment at every turn,” he added.

Along with our highlight list, containing of what some of the best of what’s going on in Branson during May, here’s our Featured Show, Limited Engagement, and Event of the Month:

Featured Show of the Month: Premiering during the summer of 2015, the Million Dollar Quartet has quickly become one of Branson’s most popular do not miss shows shows. This year marks the 60th Anniversary of one of the greatest jam sessions in rock n’ roll history 2016 that took place on December 4, 1956, in the Memphis storefront recording studio of Sun Records. It was a once in a lifetime impromptu gathering of four young recording legends-to-be, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis that would have been a forgotten page of history, but for the resurfacing of an unknown recording of that jam session decades later. That jam session 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. When I first saw the show I wrote, “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.”

Featured Limited Engagement of the Month: The incredible Ray Stevens returns to Branson for one night only, May 14, in what’s sure to be an epic night of laughter. Don’t miss this opportunity as Stevens once again commands the Branson stage with a load of funny, a dash of feeling, and songs that tickle our funny bone and touch our hearts.

Featured Event of the Month: The last 29 days to see the Branson Titanic Museum Attraction presentation of a 2016 World Exclusive Exhibit, the $1.7 Million Dollar Bandmaster Titanic Violin. RMS Titanic bandleader, Wallace Hartley’s violin has become the iconic symbol of the Titanic saga. Found strapped to his body after the sinking, it was returned to his wife-to-be, only to be lost to the world until it resurfaced almost a century later. Now, for the first time since an unnamed owner took possession of the violin, visitors to the Titanic Museum Attractions will be able to experience for themselves, the overwhelming sense of emotion it evokes,” says Mary Kellogg-Joslyn, co-owner of the Titanic Attractions. The Hartley Titanic violin will be on display in Branson, along with the only Bible to survive the Titanic through May 29, after which it will move to the Pigeon Forge Titanic Museum Attraction, where it will be displayed from June 7 through Labor Day Weekend.

 LIMITED ENGAGEMENT PERFORMANCES (Sorted by starting date)

The Texas Tenors.

The Texas Tenors.

 

May 2-May 12: Moon River and Me
May 2: Larry’s Country Diner-T. Graham Brown
May 3-13: The Texas Tenors
May 3: Larry’s Country Diner-Jimmy Fortune
May 4: Larry’s Country Diner-Gene Watson (Sold Out)*
May 6-7: Boot Daddy Presents Branson Gospel Reunion
May 5: Larry’s Country Diner-Mo and Holly Pitney
May 6: Larry’s Country Diner-Mark Wills
May 7: Larry’s Country Diner-Mark Lowry
May 14: Ray Stevens
May 14: Engelbert Humperdinck
May 18: Moe Bandy and Johnny Lee
May 20-21: Boot Daddy Presents Dailey & Vincent
May 25: Chubby Checker
May 27: Roots and Boots Tour starring Aaron Tippin, Sammy Kershaw and Collin Raye
May 28: Boot Daddy Presents Jason Pritchett (cancelled)
* Call to see if there are any cancellations.

SPECIAL EVENT HIGHLIGHTS (Sorted by starting date.)

May 1-May 29: Titanic Museum Attraction – $1.7 Million Wallace Hartley Violin
May1-May 31: Ozark Mountain Shindig Festival
May 1: Silver Dollar City World Fest Festival (Last day*)

May 5-May 30: Silver Dollar City Bluegrass & BBQ Festival
May 6-May 7: Scott’s Challenge Firefighter Combat in Branson!
May 7: Walk: MS Branson 2016
May 8: Mother’s Day Cruise on Main Street Lake Cruises Landing Princess
May 8: Mother’s Day Brunch at Big Cedar Lodge
May 8: Mother’s Day Brunch at Keeter Center
May 8: Mother’s Day Brunch at Chateau on the Lake
May 14: Promenade Pop-Up Shop
May 14: Saturday Shindig Shopping Spree
May 14- May 15: 2016 Divas Half Marathon & 5K in Branson
May 19: Shindig Festival – Jammin’ at Area 57
May 21: Armed Forces Day
May 21: Kayak Branson’s Biggest Flotilla Adventure on Lake Taneycomo
May 27: Makenna & Brock + Leather & Lace in Concert
May 27-May 30: Memorial Day Weekend Sidewalk Sale at Tanger Outlets
May 28: Shindig Festival – The Shindig Shuffle
May 28: White Water opens for its 2016.
May 29: Big Cedar Memorial Day Weekend Fireworks
May 30: Memorial Day

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 visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com, or calling 1-800-785-1550.

How to get absolute lowest guaranteed rates on amazing Branson Hotels

The beautiful Welk Resort is just one of the many Branson hotels available through Branson Tourism Center’s "Lowest Rate Lock Guarantee Program."

The beautiful Welk Resort is just one of the many Branson hotels available through Branson Tourism Center’s “Lowest Rate Lock Guarantee Program.”

“From luxuriously appointed suites and condos to Resorts, budget conscious motel rooms, and lakeside cabins, finding the perfect place to stay in Branson with your family on vacation is easy,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest providers of tourism services and information. Wood goes on to point out that although Branson is known for its value priced lodging, finding the lowest price on a given lodging establishment for specific dates is not that easy, unless you use Branson Tourism Center’s Lowest Rate Lock Guarantee Program, in which case, it’s as simple as making one phone call to 1-800-785-1550.

There are a number of online national companies that purport to offer the lowest rate on Branson hotels. Generally, however, there are a lot of “small print” conditions that must be met and, if there is a problem while in Branson, there is no one here to help immediately resolve the issue.

With Branson Tourism Center’s (BTC) Lowest Rate Lock Guarantee Program you are dealing with one of Branson’s largest and most respected providers of tourism services. They are a BBB A+ rated business who has sold over 4.5 million Branson show and attraction tickets. The guarantee applies to some amazing Branson hotels and resorts, has minimal conditions, and is provided by a company with over 100 employees located in Branson.

Simply select one of the amazing participating Branson hotels, indicated by the “Lowest Rate Lock” icon to the right of their name in the list, book your reservation through BTC, and subject to the programs minimal conditions, the price you pay for your lodging is guaranteed to be the lowest rate available. If you find a lower price offered for the same room on the same dates anytime between when you book your room and when you arrive in Branson, BTC will match the lower rate.

The following four hotels and resorts have all received excellent reviews from Branson Tourism Center (BTC) customers; represent a good cross section of the lodging available in Branson in terms of amenities, location and price, and participate in Branson Tourism Center’s Lowest Rate Lock Guarantee Program:

Grand Plaza HotelAt the “Grand Plaza Hotel,” you’ll enjoy a fabulous view of the Ozark Mountains. Centrally located, it’s just a block off the famed “Branson Strip,” right next to fantastic shopping at Tanger Outlets and near the great lineup of shows at the Kings Castle. Its amenities include an incredible pool complex with an indoor pool, hot tub, fitness room, and game room.

Radisson HotelThe “Radisson Hotel” in Branson offers a wide range of amenities throughout this stunning property that recently underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation. You’ll find a spectacular indoor/outdoor pool, sauna, whirlpool, and a top-notch fitness center as well as beautifully appointed, updated guest rooms. It is located within easy walking distance of the great lineup of shows at the Andy Williams Performing Arts Center and Theatre.

Scenic Hills Inn: Branson’s Scenic Hills Inn is located in the scenic Shepherd of the Hills area of Branson, where you’ll stay away from the busyness of the Branson Strip, yet still be very close to it and all the wonderful shows, attractions, shopping, and dining for which Branson is known. Recently renovated, the Inn prides itself on its warm and inviting atmosphere with personalized service and amenities including an outdoor pool and hot tub, flat panel televisions, complimentary WiFi access, deluxe complimentary breakfast with homemade, mouth-watering cinnamon rolls, and much more.

Welk Resort: The Welk Resort boasts a perfect location; close to all of Branson’s exciting activities yet located where you’ll find beautiful views of the Ozark Mountains and close to Table Rock Lake’s Moonshine Beach, Discover beautifully appointed rooms, a mini-golf course, a patio overlooking landscaped gardens, and an amazing 10,000 square foot “Splash-A-Torium” indoor water park! It is a full service resort, the home of the Welk Theatre, featuring Branson’s newest show, the Million Dollar Quartet and is located across the street from the Pointe Royale Golf Course.

For additional information on Branson Tourism Center’s Lowest Rate Lock Guarantee Program, other Branson lodging or shows, and attractions please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550 or visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Amazing country music and comedy with Billy Dean in Concert with Jarrett

Billy Dean doing what he does best and enjoying it!

Billy Dean enjoying what he loves to do.

Simply put, Billy Dean is one great entertainer; no gimmicks, just great music, most of it sung by the man who wrote it, surrounded by a great band, and one of the funniest comedians in Branson. The Billy Dean in Concert with Jarrett show is two of the most musical, unique, funny, and fun filled hours most people, but especially those who love country music, will ever experience.

The opening number sets the musical tenor for the show with Billy Dean and Jason Pritchett singing a duet of their new song, Already a Dead Man. As is the case with many of Dean’s songs, it tells a story; this one of a young gunslinger trying to make a name for himself by challenging an older gunslinger to a duel and how there really is no winner for those who live by the gun. It was beautifully sung and played by the pair, with Jason singing the part of the younger and Billy the older. What a wonderful way to open the show.

Dean’s band, the Steel Horses, consists of Jason Pritchett, acoustic guitar; Steve Leach, bass guitar; Robbie Blackwood, drums; and Matt Hanshaw, lead guitar. They are superb musicians and vocalists using their talents to add a wonderful element to the vocal performances. Moments such as Matt Henshaw’s guitar feature during Deans performance of Only Here For A Little While and Jason Pritchett’s opening duet with Dean, as well as his performance of his hit single, Good Show added another dimension to an already great show.

As would be expected from a man who’s combined writing and singing have resulted in more than twenty hit singles on the Billboard country charts, eleven of which were Top Ten hits, the show features a number of hits that were written and performed by Dean. How special is it to sit in a theatre and not only hear hit after hit performed by the man who wrote them, but to be able to get the story behind many of them?

And, it’s not just what he does, but the way he does it. There is that Neal McCoy way of interacting with the audience that reeks of genuineness and just adds so much to the entertainment experience of the audience he draws them into the performance. Three of my favorite show highlights was the opening duet of Already A Dead Man by Dean and Pritchett, his performance of Only Here For A Little While with Henshaw’s guitar feature, and his performance of his first hit, Somewhere In My Broken Heart, as he plays the piano and relates how he came to write it.

Billy Dean meets Afelia Payne.

Billy Dean meets Afelia Payne.

The comedy of one of Branson’s most beloved comedians, Jarrett Dougherty is woven in strategically throughout the show. As the show’s emcee Dean gets to be the “straight man” for some pretty funny characters such as “Jay Walker,” “Afelia Payne,” and “Cam Payne.” Dougherty is one funny man and one thing is for sure, once you hear Cam Payne’s political platform for president you will have a different perspective on the national presidential campaign and might just want a brokered convention to get him on the ticket. At least that way there would be something “serious to laugh about.”

If you want a show filed with great music, personality, fun, and comedy that will have you leaving entertained and inspired two hours later, wondering how the time passed so quickly, this is the show for you.

For additional information or tickets for the Billy Dean in Concert with Jarrett show, or any of Branson’s other 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.

How did the amazing acapella group SIX really get its start?

The stars of SIX, Lynn, left, Curtis, Barry, Owen, Jak, and Kevin.

The stars of SIX, Lynn, left, Curtis, Barry, Owen, Jak, and Kevin.

This and other questions were answered recently when Kevin and Jak Knudsen, two of the six brothers making up one of Branson’s most popular shows SIX, were interviewed by the Branson Tourism Center. Highlights from that interview are presented below in a Q & A format and provide interesting perspective and insight into this amazing family of performers:

BTC: How did SIX come to be?
SIX: Our parents started having children. They really wanted a girl, but they kept having boys. and ended up with ten. Our dad taught us how to sing and the SIX oldest have been singing together since the late 70s. We are the longest running original cast acapella group in the world.

BTC: Tell us about the colorful SIX cars.
SIX: It’s a good way for each of us to drive a fun car while we promote our show. Each new high performance Camaro is decorated to promote the show as we drive around town. It’s really neat to see the way people react to the cars, especially when we all get together and form the “SIX Train.” As we go by, you see people taking pictures and smiling It’s pretty good when you can get in your car and, just by driving it, make people smile.

BTC: It seems that each of you has a “color” theme associated with you in terms of jackets, stage props, and promotional pieces. How did you pick the colors and decide which one would get what color?
SIX: Well the colors kind of picked us. About 20 years ago we were in Los Angeles and went shopping for jackets. They had seven different colors. We picked out which size fit us and that became our color. [Lynn – yellow, Curtis – blue, Barry – red, Owen – Purple, Kevin – Orange, and Jak – Green.]

BTC: What’s your personal favorite part in this year’s show?
KEVIN: The country medley that we do including, Momma Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys and Rhinestone Cowboy.
JAK: The Eagles medley is a blast to do and I have a lot of fun doing it. We sing Hotel California, Life in the Fast Lane, Heartache Tonight and others.

BTC: You guys do a lot of interviews, but is there one question that you wondered why they didn’t ask or isn’t asked very often?
SIX: What differentiates you guys from other shows?
BTC: And the answer would be?
SIX:  It’s all live with every sound coming from our voices. In this day and age, we might just be one of the few truly live 100 percent shows left. We don’t use any tracks, or sick tracks. If someone is sick, we adjust the performance accordingly or pull the number.

BTC: What can someone who has never been to a SIX show expect to see when they attend for the first time?
SIX: They will experience a fast moving show filled with comedy, music, and our unique acapella musical performance, covering just about every genre of music, both vocally and instrumentally except, there are no instruments! They will think they are hearing instruments, but every sound they will hear comes from our mouths. [Authors Note: As many times as I have seen SIX perform, I still look for the band even though I know there is none and that every sound is coming from them. It’s simply amazing!]

BTC: Why are you guys still together?
SIX:We love doing what we do and it’s nice to know you are working with people you can trust and who you care about.

For additional information or tickets for SIX, or 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; call 1-800-785-1550 or visit www.BransonTourismCenter.com.