BRANSON, Mo. Every night, as the curtain of the Presleys’ Country Jubilee Show (Presleys’) goes up, the audience becomes part of two wonderful unique experiences. They become part of Branson history and get to enjoy the legendary, one of a kind, music and comedy variety show that has made the Presleys’ a have to see show in Branson for over 44 years.
The history “experience” really started over 44 years ago, in June of 1967, as Lloyd and Bessie Presley “grabbed for their dream” of performing in their own theatre in Branson. To make the dream a reality they sold their family home in Springfield, Missouri, moved their entire family to Branson and became “Branson’s original show on the strip.”
Performing in that show were two of their sons, Gary and his younger brother Steve who have been continuously performing as a regular part of the show ever since, Gary as the incomparably funny “Herkimer” and Steve as the show’s drummer. Their 44 year run is the longest continuous performance run of any Branson entertainer. Each night they step on the stage the audience gets to participate in a new page of Branson history as it is being written.
And what a fun and entertaining way to become a part of that history as the audience also gets to experience two of the most entertaining hours available on any Branson stage. In a 2007 review of Presleys’, which he has quoted in subsequent reviews of the show simply because that opinion has remained unchanged, this writer said, “It is doubtful that one will find a show that entertains them or their families more or that has more musical or comedic talent than Presleys’ Country Jubilee.” After seeing the 2011 show recently I would have to underscore that and, without taking anything away from the great entertainment experience this show has always been, say, “There is just something extra special about this year’s show.”
Like many Branson shows, and for good reason, they helped create the model decades ago, Presleys’ follows the time tested Branson entertainment model of presenting a variety show of music, both vocals and instrumental, and comedy. That said however, it must be pointed out that it’s not what they do, but from music to comedy, how they do it that makes Presleys’ Country Jubilee the special unique entertainment experience it is and separates it from any other show in Branson.
The shows variety of music covers everything from rock and roll, to gospel, country, classical and more all performed by musicians and vocalist who are not only very good at what they do, but appear to love what they do and relate well to the audience. The Presleys bring their own unique style and arrangements to the music in their show. It’s a wonderful thing to sit in the audience and listen to these talented performers take a piece of music and “make it their own.”
Although there were many, in terms of writing this review, this writer’s three favorite vocal moments were Ambrus Presley singing the Dolly Parton Classic, “I Will Always Love You;” Kimberly Barber’s rendition of the song that won Miranda Lambert a Grammy in 2010, “The House that Built Me” and the Gospel classic, “I Bowed on My Knees” by the shows gospel quartet consisting of Bruce Haynes, Tim Gregg, Jay Wickizer and Chuck Crain. In terms of instrumentals, his three favorites would be, John Presleys’ unique rendition of “Chopsticks,” Greg Presleys’ great harmonica version of “Southbound” and the Presleys’ version of “Dueling Banjoes” with lead in by Mark Walker on the five string banjo.
When it comes to comedy, the Presleys’ Country Jubilee is in a class by itself, not only in Branson, but anywhere, for the uniqueness, quality and variety of its humor. Whether it’s a one liner about today’s current events, a discussion of “Patti Possum Lips,” by “Herkimer,” played by Gary Presley; a comical demonstration of making a balloon “Poodle” for presentation to an audience member by his stage son, “Cecil,” who also happens to be his real son Eric or one of the many original comedy segments strategically placed throughout the show, the audience is kept in a constant state of laughter and expectation. They simply don’t know what’s coming next from this zany and funny duo, or “Wait a minute, is that a trio, is there a ‘Cecil Junior?'”
One of the remarkable things about the Presleys’ Country Jubilee is that although the show is constantly changing and evolving, in terms of music and comedy, Presleys’ is the perfect example of “The more things change the more they remain the same.” Although the content, costuming and other aspects of the show change to provide new freshness, the basic quality and format that has endeared the Presleys’ to their audience for all these years has not. It is more than ever, “a special and unique Branson entertainment experience that cannot be duplicated anywhere else by anyone else.” Not to see the Presleys’ Country Jubilee while in Branson would be like going to New York City and not seeing the “Statute of Liberty.”
For additional information or tickets for Presleys’ Country Jubilee or any of Branson’s other shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please contact the Branson Tourism Center (BTC), one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services. BTC can be reached by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.