The first time I saw Shoji Tabuchi perform in Branson he said, “The fiddle and violin are the same instrument, their difference is how you ‘fiddle around’ with them.” I walked out of that performance in awe of just how well he “fiddled around,” thinking to myself, “Wow, that was remarkable.” Thankfully, some things never change except for the better, and recently, over three decades later, as I walked out of the Shoji Tabuchi Show, I thought, “Wow, that was so awesome!”
Another word that comes to mind and is often used to describe what Shoji does with the violin/ fiddle is, “Incredible.” Call it what you will, but from his opening number, Live and Let Die, from the James Bond movie of the same title, to his last, How Great Thou Art, this master musician and consummate entertainer, provides a one of a kind performance without equal in Branson.
If you love fiddle and violin music, this is definitely the show for you. Although Branson is blessed with some fine fiddle and violin players, no other show features a fiddle/violin player of Shoji’s talent playing the variety of music he performs during the show. It makes no difference if it’s classical, Texas Swing, country, gospel, or rock; music from Broadway and movies, Elvis Presley, or Led Zeppelin, he plays them all with that unique Tabuchi style and energy.
Three of my favorite pieces, selected from many, show the diversity of the music he plays. The classical segment on the violin, with Humoresque, Brahms’ Lullaby ,and Little Night Music was a pure pleasure to hear and watch as he blends them together into a beautiful one of a kind arrangement and experience. His fiddle performance of the song Listen to the Mocking Bird, delighted the audience as did his magnificent and inspirational performance of, what I consider his signature piece, Through the Eyes of Love from the movie “Ice Castles.”
I admit that I am an unabashed Shoji Tabuchi fan and that I love great fiddle and violin playing, so this show is right up my alley from that perspective, but it is so much more. The artful way that is combined with his extremely talented band, dancers, and vocalists, along with some neat sets, and colorful costuming adds even more excitement and variety to this extremely entertaining show. The band consists of Duggie Duggan, Band Director and guitarist; Carl Hose, trombone; Louis Claussen, piano; William Green, percussion; Anthony Walter, drums; and Landon Rolf, bass. The dancer and vocalists are Norvin Breeck, Adam Henry, Jeremy Sterling, and Christina Lingo-Tabuchi, who is also the featured vocalist.
Christina does a number of vocals throughout the show. My personal favorite was her performance of Leanne Womack’s I Hope You Dance, which she dedicated to her daughter Bailey-Jae, and was as inspirational as it was beautifully sung.
From chickens to cows and trains to drums, the show is filled with wonderful surprises. One of my favorites, and an obvious crown pleaser, was the “Taiko Drums,” from Shoji’s native Japan. The drummers, play three different Japanese drums, including the giant “Odaiko,” in a unique one of a kind performance. Don’t miss the movements of the drummers on the smaller drums! The whole segment from the drums to the costuming, Shoji playing Sakura Sakura, and his “duet” of “Sukiyaki,” with his daughter, Christina, is a unique experience that will not soon be forgotten.
In a previous review of this show I said, “Simply put, Shoji Tabuchi is a master at his craft, loves what he does, relates to his audience not only on a musical, but personal level, surrounds himself with some of the best musicians, singers and dancers in Branson and stars in a unique, colorful and exciting one of kind entertainment production.” After seeing his 2016 show all I can say is, “Ditto!” For additional information or tickets for the Shoji Tabuchi Show 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.