Did you know these 12 interesting facts about the Million Dollar Quartet?

The Million Dollar Quartet David Brooks (Jerry Lee Lewis) left, Sarah Tweedle (Dyanne), Brad Waters (Carl Perkins), Austin Wilson (Jay Perkins, Bass Player), Tyler K. Hunter), Elvis Presley (Tyler K. Hunter), and  Cliff Wright (Johnny Cash.)

The Million Dollar Quartet David Brooks (Jerry Lee Lewis) left, Sarah Tweedle (Dyanne), Brad Waters (Carl Perkins), Austin Wilson (Jay Perkins, Bass Player),  Elvis Presley (Tyler K. Hunter), and Cliff Wright (Johnny Cash.)

You might already know that the Million Dollar Quartet is a Tony Award winning musical that is one of Branson’s most popular shows, but did you know that it is based on an actual, one time impromptu, event involving four young performers, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis, in the early stages of their career?

How many of these 12 questions about that event and the musical Million Dollar Quartet do you know the answers to?

1.When did it take place?
Answer:  On December 4, 1956.

2. In what city did it take place?
Answer: Memphis, TN.

3. Where did it take place?
Answer: In the storefront recording studio of Sun Records.

4.Who was there?
Answer: Sam Phillips; the owner of Sun Records; Carl Perkins, Sun recording artist, who was in the studio along his brother Jay on bass, and drummer, WS “Fluke” Holland to record “Matchbox;” Sun recording artist Jerry Lee Lewis, who was there to play piano for the Perkins recording; Sun recording artist, Johnny Cash, who came in to observe the recording session and talk with Sam Phillips; RCA and ex-Sun Recording artist Elvis Presley, who just dropped by with a girl he was seeing at the time, Marilyn Evans; and sound technician Jack Clement, who was there to record the session. Bob Johnson, the entertainment editor of the “Memphis Press-Scimitar,” who was invited over by Phillips after the jam session had started, and was accompanied by a  photographer.

5. What happened?
Answer: After Elvis showed up, near the end of Perkins recording session, they just started talking, playing, and singing. The resulting impromptu jam session was a unique one-time event that would have gone unrecorded, but for the foresight of the sound technician Jack Clement.

6. What part did Jack Clement play in the event?
Answer: According to Clement, as the jam session got underway, Sam Phillips was in a nearby restaurant, and he decided that he would be remiss if he did not record the session, so, without anyone’s knowledge, he did.

7. If everything was so informal how did the session get the name, “Million Dollar Quartet?”
Answer: When Phillips discovered the jam session going on he called Bob Johnson, the entertainment editor of the “Memphis Press-Scimitar,” who came by with a photographer. The next day he published an article entitled, “The Million Dollar Quartet,” along with a picture of the foursome gathered around the piano which included Marilyn Evans sitting on the end of the piano.

8. What happened to the recording?
Answer: Because no one knew that Clement had recorded the session and in spite of “The Million Dollar Quartet” news story, the recording went, unnoticed, into the Sun Records “library,” where it remained for decades until discovered by a new owner of Sun Records as they worked through the contents of the library. It was recorded and released in Europe in 1981 and in the United States in 1990.

9. When and how was the musical The Million Dollar Quartet created?
Answer: In 2007, the stage musical Million Dollar Quartet, written by Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott, and based on the music and events of the original “Million Dollar Quartet” jam session, premiered. Since then, this smash hit musical, has played in Chicago, Broadway, Las Vegas, toured extensively in the US and internationally, and has a production in Branson, Missouri, at the Welk Resort Theatre.

10. Why is the name of the girlfriend of Elvis in the show named “Dyanne,” instead of Marilyn?
Answer: Marilyn Evans, literally disappeared “in plain sight” for over 52 years and, although “Dyanne” sings in the show, in real life, Marilyn did not and, except for being the date of Elvis, did not play a significant role in the events of that night. At the time the show was developed no one knew where she was so the fictitious “Dyanne” was developed to fill her expanded role in the show.

11. What happened to the real Marilyn Evens?
Answer: Marilyn Evans, now Marilyn Knowles-Riehl, was one of the few women associated with Elvis Presley who did not seek any fame or advantage from it. She placed no big significance on the event and, when the relationship with Elvis was over within a few weeks, moved on with her life, enrolled in the University of Utah within the year, got married, raised a family, and among other things was the director of the Fresno Ballet for 13 years. For over 52 years she gave the event very little thought until 2008 when she read a story about why the Million Dollar Quartet show had to create a fictitious girl-friend, named “Dyanne,” for Elvis in the show.

12. What can someone attending the Million Dollar Quartet expect?
Answer: An awesome entertainment experience! 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.
“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 Ghost 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.
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.”

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 https://www.bransontourismcenter.com/

 

Your superior lodging experience in the heart of all Branson offers

All American Inn & Suites

All American Inn & Suites

“Why should a family coming to Branson select the All American Inn and Suites (AAI) for their lodging?” Denny Singh, the new owner and general manager said, “The dedication of our family, my wife Mona, myself, and our staff, to ensuring that you, and your family, have a great lodging experience, from ‘check in’ to ‘check out,’ in some of the cleanest rooms, and with the friendliest most customer oriented staff, in Branson.”

Interior of spacious Jacuzzi Suite.

Interior of spacious Jacuzzi suite.

All American Inn and Suites is a cozy 81 room property offering a variety of rooms and configurations to accommodate almost every lodging need. The majority of its clean spacious rooms are Double Queen and King, but it also offers Jacuzzi and family suites along with a number of connecting rooms. This provides AAI with the flexibility to meet the lodging needs of the individual traveler as well as families, and groups. Singh points out that while all the rooms at AAI are spacious, the Family Suites are ideal for the families on vacation because they have two rooms that can be closed off from each other.

Each room includes a full complement of amenities. Among others, these include coffee maker with complimentary coffee and tea, desk with ergonomic chair, hair dryer, free Wi-Fi-Internet, microwave, refrigerator, and 32” LCD HD television with cable and local channels, iron, ironing board, and more.

Outdoor Pool.

Outdoor Pool.

AAI is open year-round and is smoke and pet free with interior corridors and access to all rooms. It has an outdoor pool, elevator, Wi-Fi access in all common areas, free level parking, a laundry that is free to guests, as well as 24-hour coffee in the lobby, and offers in-house ticketing at the front desk, to Branson shows and attractions, providing the ultimate in convenience and ensuring their guests the best available seats to the shows they want to see.

Singh said that one of the features their guests like is the Inn’s location. It’s centrally located to all the fun and excitement that Branson offers, but is away from the noise and bustle, providing an opportunity for peace and relaxation. Yet, when guests are ready for the fun and excitement of Branson, AAI is minutes away from the center of the Branson Strip, the Titanic Museum Attraction, and alternate routes to Silver Dollar City, Table Rock Lake, many of Branson’s shows, attractions, shopping, including Branson Landing, and other activities.

“In terms of all round value, cleanliness, location and customer satisfaction, the All American Inn and Suites has been a perennial hit with our customers,” said Preston Garrison, Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest providers of tourism services and information. He points out that AAI is a participant in the Branson Tourism Center’s (BTC) Lowest Rate Lock Guarantee Program. If you book your stay at AAI through BTC, subject to the programs minimal conditions, the price you pay 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.

For additional information or reservations for the All American Inn and Suites, or for any of Branson’s other shows, attractions and activities 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.

 

“Ayo,” is a powerful inspirational entertainment experience

Voices of Glory, the stars of "Ayo,"Avery, right, Nadia, and Michael.

The “Voices of Glory”, the stars of “Ayo,” Avery, right, Nadia, and Michael.

In 2009 America got their first taste of the talented Cole siblings, Michael, Avery, and Nadia, when they competed on the hit NBC prime time show “America’s Got Talent” (AGT)” as the “Voices of Glory.” Their musical talent and inspiring story took them to a fifth place finish in the Finals. Since AGT, the Voices of Glory have been traveling the world perfecting their already considerable skills, and have opened their own show, Ayo starring Voices of Glory, in Branson.

As I watched Ayo recently, I was reminded of their AGT appearance, feeling both the talent and the intensity of the story that inspired the start of their musical career. They came together and sang in the hospital to entertain their mother who was in a coma as the results of a horrible automobile accident. They sang, day after day, for 8 months until their mother came out of the coma, and have been entertaining and inspiring others, and her, ever since.

They still have that special talent and charisma that captured America’s heart when they performed on AGT, but now, it has matured and aged, like a fine wine, and is even more of a joy to see, hear, and experience. I expected great vocals and got them, but there was much more. Not only did they interact and relate to the audience, making them a part of their own entertainment experience, but I was as amazed, as I was entertained, at the choreography that has been worked into most of the numbers.

They don’t just sing; they perform each number. Whether it’s subtle hand, other body movements, or dance steps as they sing, it was a pleasure to see. Now some are probably asking, “Don’t all performers do that?” I imagine so, but this is the first time that I noticed it enough where it added something to my enjoyment of the performance. This is no staid, stand at the microphone concert! Although, present to one degree or another in just about every number, a perfect illustration of what I am referring to would be, one of my favorite numbers in the show, their performance of As Long As I’ve Got King JESUS.

While talking about dancing, I just have to mention one, “surprise,” change of pace, number, I Won’t Dance. It’s a delightful dance number with all of them dancing featuring some nifty moves by Avery and a wonderful tap segment. The audience, including this writer, really loved it!

Nadia Cole performing the Whitney Houston classic, "I Will Always Love You."

Nadia Cole performing the Whitney Houston classic, “I Will Always Love You.”

Both as a group and individually, they perform a broad variety of music including pop, jazz, gospel, and more. My four WOW musical moments, from among many, would be all three singing, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough; Nadia’s performance of I will Always Love You; Holy, Holy, Holy starting with an old video of them singing it when they first started, that fades into them singing a beautiful a capella version live; and Michael’s performance of My Funny Valentine with a trumpet feature by Ray Harris. Their original song, about the miracle involved with their mother’s survival of her accident, You Sent A Miracle, was as inspirational as it was beautifully performed.

Ayo’s band is composed of some of Branson’s finest musicians, Tim Pope, drums; Marty Wilhite, bass; Barry Bales, guitar; and band leader, Ray Harris, keyboards and trumpet. Not only do they do a great job on a variety of music, but, as noted above, they are “featured” during a number of the vocals adding another wonderful element to an already great show.

Ayo’s Christmas show starts with their first show in November. Nadia said that they are really excited about it because it will contain the very best from their current show during the first half. The entire second half of the show will be devoted to Christmas. When asked what her favorite part of the Christmas show was, without hesitation she said, “I love when we sing ‘Oh Holy Night,’ it’s one of my favorite Christmas songs.”

The way that the vocal talent and charisma of the Voices of Glory is artfully combined with costuming, choreography, large video screens, lighting, a great band, and other special effects, into a wonderful unique entertainment gem, is truly a “joy” to experience. It’s a show that the whole family can enjoy together from beginning to end.

For additional information on Ayo starring Voices of Glory or for information or tickets for any of Branson’s shows and attractions or 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

The Best Branson Insider Event Highlights for October 2016

Featured Show of October, "Million Dollar Quartet," Rug Making is just one of over 120 crafts at Silver Dollar City's National Harvest & Cowboy Festival, and the Oak Ridge Boys.

Featured Show of October, “Million Dollar Quartet,” Rug Making is one of over 120 crafts being demonstrated at Silver Dollar City’s National Harvest & Cowboy Festival, and the Oak Ridge Boys.

“The usually crisper temperatures of October nights coupled with beautiful autumn days typically brings the beautiful Ozark’s foliage to its peak during the last two weeks of the month presenting one of Branson’s most spectacular shows,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “Silver Dollar City’s National Harvest & Cowboy Festival is just one of the amazing events and activities that Branson visitors can enjoy during October, in addition to the fun, excitement, and entertainment of everything else that Branson offers every day,” she added.

Here’s our Insider Highlight list of some of the unique and exciting special events that Branson visitors will be able to enjoy during October, including our Featured Show, Limited Engagement, and Event of the Month:

Featured Show of the Month: The Million Dollar Quartet has quickly become one of Branson’s most popular shows. This year marks the 60th Anniversary of one of the greatest jam sessions in rock n’ roll history that took place on December 4, 1956, in the Memphis storefront recording studio of “Sun Records.” The jam session 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 discovery of an unknown recording of it decades later.

But surface it did! It, 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: Country music legends, the Oak Ridge Boys return to Branson, with their phenomenal harmonies and an amazing career spanning several decades that includes five Grammy Awards, the Song of the Year, from both the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music, for their hit Elvira, which also crossed over to the pop charts, and many others. Their hits include Touch a Hand, Make a Friend; Make My Life with You; American Made; (I’m Settin’) Fancy Free; It Takes a Little Rain (To Make Love Grow); Bobbie Sue; and many more.

Featured Event of the Month: Silver Dollar City’s National Harvest & Cowboy Festival showcasing the largest gathering of demonstrating craftsmen in the country; the Wild West Show; Western Musicians; chuck wagon cooking by Kent Rollins; Extreme Mustang Makeovers, as expert horse trainer Fred Woehl tames beautiful wild mustangs; Silver Dollar City’s Barn Dance, returning for 2016 by popular demand; and much more.

LIMITED ENGAGEMENT PERFORMANCES (Sorted by starting date)

Oct 3-31*: The Urban Cowboy Reunion
Oct 4-20*: Oak Ridge Boys
Oct 5: Moe Bandy & Joe Stampley
Oct 7: Bill Engvall
Oct 9: Air Supply
Oct 12: Ricky Nelson Remembered
Oct 12-20**: Shenandoah
Oct 14: Ronnie Milsap and Johnny Rodriguez
Oct 15: David Cassidy
Oct 19: TG Sheppard, David Frizell & Jeannie Seely
Oct 21: RFD-TV presents Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy
Oct 21: Charley Pride & Janie Fricke
Oct 21: Clint Black
Oct 22-23: Loretta Lynn
Oct 24-25: Boot Daddy Presents Jimmy Fortune
Oct 26-28: Boot Daddy Presents Gene Watson
Oct 26: Pam Tillis
Oct 28: Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone, & B.J. Thomas
Oct 29: Jeanne Robertson
Oct 31-Nov 19: Daniel O’Donnell

* Selected dates through November.
** Selected dates.

SPECIAL EVENT HIGHLIGHTS (Sorted by starting date.)

Oct 1-29: National Harvest & Cowboy Festival at Silver Dollar City
Oct 1: Annual TangerStyle Fit for a Cure 5K Run/Walk
Oct 1: Charles E. Scalan Benefit Golf Tournament – Hospice Compassus
Oct 2: Grand Country Half Marathon & 5K
Oct 8: Hollister Grape and Fall Festival
Oct 8: Hollister Color Me Grape 5K
Oct 8: Branson Landing’s 7th Annual Paint the Landing Pink!
Oct 8: Center Stage Classic Rumble
Oct 9:  Rotary Youth Fishing Tournament
Oct 11: Foraging in the Ozarks: Wild Edible-Medicinal Plant and Bird ID Mosey
Oct 13- 16: Coca-Cola Swap Meet
Oct 15: Benefit for the Children’s Miracle Network
Oct 22: 3rd Annual VVA Chapter 913 Trout Team Tournament
Oct 22: Branson Adventure Challenge
Oct 22: Bonniebrook Festival
Oct 22 – Oct 23: Branson Women’s Expo
Oct 27: Annual Downtown Branson Piccadilly Gala/Auction
Oct 28: Hollister Halloween Boo-Bash, Elementary School. 6-8 PM, 417-334-3262
Oct 29: Halloween BOOnanza at the Branson Recplex
Oct 31: Branson Landing’s 10th Annual Safe Street Trick or Treat
Oct 31: Halloween
Oct 31: Trick-or-Treat TangerStyle! – at Tanger Outlets

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.

Million Dollar Quartet’s Johnny Cash started it all with an “Aah!”

Cliff Wright as Johnny Cash in the smash Branson hit show "Million Dollar Quartet."

Cliff Wright as Johnny Cash in the smash Branson hit show “Million Dollar Quartet.”

One of Branson’s most popular new shows is the Million Dollar Quartet. It tells the story of one of the greatest jam sessions in rock n’ roll history; 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. The jam session went largely unnoticed until recordings of the event were discovered and released decades later. It is that jam session, those recordings, and the four rock n’ roll legends involved that 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.

Recently, Cliff Wright, who is the tribute artist playing Johnny Cash (CW) in the Branson production of the show was kind enough to take time from his busy schedule to sit down and chat with me on behalf of the Branson Tourism Center (BTC).

BTC: Where were you born?
CW: In Dallas, Texas at Parkland Hospital.

BTC: When?
CW: May 29, 1979.

BTC: When did you first become interested in music?
CW: At a very early age.

BTC: In terms of your career what came first, Elvis or Johnny Cash?
CW: It was definitely Elvis Presley, but it took decades to develop!

BTC: When did you first become interested in Elvis Presley?
CW: I was about 9 or 10 years old and was traveling with my family near Memphis, TN. I was playing in the back seat and I heard this song, it was probably “Hound Dog” or something like that. I asked my dad, “Who’s that?” He explained that it was a singer who used to live here. I asked, “Doesn’t he live here anymore” and dad said, “He’s passed on.” A few minutes later we went by a black sign with “Elvis” all over it in pink letters, and my dad pointed out that was the singer we had been talking about. I thought to myself, “Aah!” When we got home I started gathering pictures and info on him. I noticed he wore jump suits so I made one out of a large brown paper sack and even drew eagles and stars on it.

BTC: How old were you when you started performing Elvis professionally?
CW: About 30 or 31.

BTC: That’s quite a gap. What did you do in the interim?
CW: I played lead guitar and actually studied and practiced Elvis and Johnny Cash for hours.

BTC: When did you first start performing professionally?
CW: I have been performing as a lead guitarist since I was 18.

BTC: What caused you to transition from Elvis to Johnny Cash?
CW: Two things, Johnny Cash came easy to me and I wanted to be in a field where there was less competition.

BTC: September 12, was the 13th anniversary of the death of Johnny Cash. Does that date hold any special significance for you?
CW: I was at home rehearsing for a guitar gig when it was announced on TV. I wasn’t doing either Elvis or Johnny at the time. I remember getting my guitar and just playing “Folsom Prison Blues,” and saying the words, not singing them, just saying them.

BTC: Whether sung in the Million Dollar Quartet show or not, what is your favorite Johnny Cash song?
CW: My favorite Johnny Cash songs are his gospel songs and, of those, my favorite is, “I Was There When It Happened.” My favorite song that I perform that’s “mainstream” is “Walk The Line” and that’s in the show.

BTC: If you could influence someone to remember one thing about Johnny Cash or his music, what would it be?
CW: Be as true to what you do as he was to what he did.

BTC: Was your first performance as a Johnny Cash Tribute artist professional or otherwise?
CW: In Omaha, Nebraska in 2011. I was getting into Johnny Cash and did a Christmas show that was half Elvis and half Johnny Cash. When I came out and did Johnny Cash they said, “Forget Elvis, just do Johnny Cash.”

BTC: Branson aside, when did you first hear about the Million Dollar Quartet?
CW: I heard about it when it first came out, but auditioned for the show in Chicago twice before I heard about the Branson production. I auditioned via a You-Tube Link and got the job.

BTC: What was it about the Million Dollar Quartet that made you want the role?
CW: I’m kind of an historian and a huge Sun Record fan. I can tell you stories, about not only Elvis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis, but the guys who recorded at Sun before they came.

BTC: What do you like most about performing Johnny Cash in the Million Dollar Quartet?
CW: Two things, I get to play my hero every night and seeing the audiences reaction to these songs. It’s the coolest feeling in the world.

BTC: What were you doing prior to accepting the role in the MDQ?
CW: Among other things, running a recording studio using the same type and models of equipment that Sam Perkins used at Sun Studios. I still have it in my home and love doing it.

BTC: Why do you think that someone coming to Branson should come and see the Million Dollar Quartet?
CW: They will experience, and feel like a part of, the fun and excitement of the most unique rock and roll jam session of all time, presented by an extremely talented cast dedicated to sharing that magic musical event with its audience. It is a joy to sense and feel the audience’s reaction and response each performance.

BTC: What is your first impression of Branson?
CW: WOW, there’s really a lot to do here!

BTC: What’s your favorite thing to do in Branson when you are not performing?
CW: Just relax. Our schedule is so busy that you really do appreciate your time off.

BTC: If you could meet and perform with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
CW: It would be Elvis Presley because he was the first influence that started on the path that has led me to where I am now.

BTC: Is there one event that you particularly would have like to perform with him at?
CW: Yes, December 4th, 1956 when he performed with Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins because I would have gotten to see and perform with all of them.

For more information on the Million Dollar Quartet and other amazing Branson shows, attractions, or lodging, please call one of Branson Tourism Center’s Branson based Travel Planners at 1-800-875-1550. They will be delighted to answer any questions you might have about Branson, its shows, hotels, or attractions and assist you with reservations to help ensure that you obtain the best available seating at shows and the accommodations you desire. There is no charge for this service and they are available daily, except Christmas Day, from 8:00 AM to 9:30 PM.

Shouldn’t one of these fantastic museums be part of your Branson experience?

Titanic Museum's full sized Grand Staircase, two story high T-Rex from Dinosaur Museum, and the entrance to the Worlds Biggest Toy Museum Complex.

Titanic Museum’s full sized Grand Staircase, two story high T-Rex at the  Dinosaur Museum, and the entrance to the Worlds Biggest Toy Museum Complex.

“It has been said that Branson has something for everyone, and that’s true not only in terms of general categories of things to do, but with choices within each category,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “For instance, within the general category of Branson shows there is a wide variety of choices ranging from Sight & Sound’s biblical spectacular Moses to the Million Dollar Quartet, Haygoods and almost 100 more,” she added.

Wood goes on to point out that it’s the same thing with Branson Attractions, lakes, shopping, and many other categories of activities that Branson offers including one that many Branson visitors overlook, “Museums.” Some, such as Branson’s most popular museum, the amazing Titanic Museum Attraction, are hard to miss, but others are not as obvious. Here’s a list of six Branson Museums that can add excitement and adventure to your Branson experience:

Bransons Titanic Museum Attraction: This one half size scale replica of the “R.M.S. Titanic,” towering high above the Branson strip, is one of Branson’s most popular attractions! More than simply a museum, it’s an interactive adventure that shares the stories of those who were onboard for the famous ocean voyage that has fascinated the world for more than a century with hundreds of artifacts, a crew that interacts with passengers, many interactive activities, and so much more. From beginning to end it’s a special experience. Here’s a neat article entitled 13 Things “kids” should know about the Branson Titanic Museum Attraction that describes this unique Branson experience. This museum is open year-round and is not weather dependent.

Branson Auto & Farm Museum: At any given time, this beautiful 90,000 square foot museum provides an opportunity to take a unique stroll through the vintage chrome, modern designs, high performance, and legendary styling of about 200 classic and collectible vehicles and 180 farm tractors, implements and buggies on display. Its 5,000 square foot gift shop offers a unique selection of apparel, books, pedal cars, vintage toys, and other items. With inventory changing regularly, every visit to the museum is a unique adventure! This museum is open year-round and is not weather dependent.

The Ralph Foster Museum: Located at the College this museum has the mission of collecting, preserving, interpreting, and exhibiting items related to the Ozarks region, its history and culture. Probably, the most well-known of the museum’s displays is an original truck from the Beverly Hillbillies’ 1960’s television show. Other displays include an intact, antique dental office to a display of Rose O’Neill’s world-famous Kewpie Dolls. The museum is not weather dependent and is open year-round except for the month of January, Thanksgiving week, including the weekend before and after Thanksgiving, and mid December through the end of December.

Veterans Memorial Museum: This museum pays heartfelt tribute to the men and women who bravely served our country.  It features more than 2,000 exhibits commemorating the American soldier in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, and more recent conflicts, including historical artifacts, murals, and sculptures in touching tribute to American soldiers, veterans, and especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms. This museum is open year-round and is not weather dependent.

World’s Largest Toy Museum Complex: Give the family a break from computers, tablets, video games, and cell phones and bring them to 25,000 square feet of the most unique and interesting museum experiences available anywhere! In fact, it’s five different museums in one where “Memories unfold and imagination abounds.” The Worlds Largest Toy Museum contains more than 1,000,000 toys. See cast iron fire trucks, slot cars, Hot Wheels, tin toys, the very first Barbie Doll, and hundreds of other historical toys like Power Rangers and Howdy Doody, and baseballs autographed by sports heroes like Joe DiMaggio and Cal Ripken. The complexes’ other museums include “The National BB Gun Museum” and a special GI Joe display; The Harold B. Wright Museum containing the original manuscript of the best-selling book, “The Shepherd of the Hills” along with Wrights personal collection of furniture and paintings; “The Stearnsy Bear Museum;” and “The World of Checkers Museum.” This museum is open year-round and is not weather dependent.

Branson Dinosaur Museum: Experience dinosaurs up close and personal, from everyone’s favorite, the enormous “Tyrannosaurus Rex,” fondly referred to as “T Rex,” to the “tiny,” comparatively speaking, Four-Winged Microraptor, measuring only one-foot-tall. Thanks to the talented paleo-artists, who used actual dinosaur bones to mold the incredible bodies of these dinosaurs, you will almost expect them to come to life at any moment. See the article entitled Branson Dinosaur Museum home to T- Rex and his dinosaur pals for more information. This museum is open year-round and is not weather dependent.

For more information on these and other amazing Branson attractions, shows, or lodging, please call one of Branson Tourism Center’s Branson based Travel Planners at 1-800-875-1550. They will be delighted to answer any questions you might have about Branson, its shows, hotels, or attractions and assist you with reservations to help ensure that you obtain the best available seating at shows and the accommodations you desire. There is no charge for this service and they are available daily, except Christmas Day, from 8:00 AM to 9:30 PM.

“Branson – Up Close and Personal” with Pierce Arrow’s Dan Britton

Pierce Arrow quartet rehearsing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," for their upcoming Christmas Show; Tony Turner, left, Travis Spratt, Scott Fraker, Dan Birtton

Pierce Arrow quartet rehearsing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” for their upcoming Christmas Show; Tony Turner, left, Travis Spratt, Scott Fraker, Dan Britton

The Pierce Arrow Show is perennially one of Branson’s most popular shows. The success of the show is directly attributable to the man who started the show, Dan Britton, who is also the show’s executive director and the bass singer in its award winning quartet, “Pierce Arrow;” the outrageously funny James Sibley; female vocalist Shonna Bond, and the Pierce Arrow Band. It’s two hours of wonderful vocals, humor, inspiration, and fun.

“Branson – Up Close and Personal,” is a service of the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services, and is intended to provide readers with an up close and personal look at a Branson star or personality. The interview with Dan Britton (DB) uses a “Question and Answer” format with the interviewing being done for the Branson Tourism Center (BTC) by Gary J. Groman, a 30-year resident of the Branson area, local columnist and freelance writer.

BTC: You had stopped performing a few years back, but are back performing now. Why?
DB: I had been entertaining all of my life and, at the time, I was looking for a break. When Tim Storms, the guy who replaced me in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s lowest bass singer, came to work for me, it was a Godsend. A couple of years ago he decided to pursue some other career interests and left the show, so here I am again.

BTC: How do you feel about being back on the stage performing?
DB: I’m enjoying singing more than I ever have in my life.

BTC: What is the format of your Christmas Show?
DB: The first half of the Christmas show is the best from our regular season non Christmas show with the Patriotic Finale moved from the end of the show to the end of the first half. The whole second half of the show is pure Christmas from beginning to end.

BTC: What is your personal favorite part of the Christmas Show?
DB: Our finale, “Oh Holy Night,” performed by the full cast. The spiritual aspect of what I do is very important to me and there’s just not a better song out there that expresses the true spirit of Christmas.

BTC: It is said that you set the world record for “the lowest note ever sung” and that your vocal accomplishments have been recorded in the “Guinness Book of World Records” several times. Of all the vocal records you have set, which one means the most to you and why?
DB: Setting the Guinness Book of World Records record for the lowest note produced by a human voice which I held for 18 years. When I won it I replaced J.D. Sumner, one of my idols. I was replaced on the list by Tim Storms, who sang bass in our show up until about two years ago when he left to pursue other interests.

BTC: How long have you been in show business?
DB: I have been singing since I was three years old and singing bass since I was 12 years old. I have been singing professionally for over three decades.

BTC: How did you end up in Branson?
DB: My brothers and I performed together traveling around doing night clubs for ten years. I had decided that I was going to quit because of the traveling and other factors. I got a call from a group here in Branson called the “Branson Brothers” who said I would not have to travel if I came to Branson and sang with them. I started with them while they were performing at Silver Dollar City.

BTC: How long have you been Performing in Branson?
BD: Since about 1991. I performed with the Branson Brothers at Silver Dollar City for about five years before going to the ’76 Music Hall [Now Grand Country] with Pierce Arrow.

BTC: Pierce Arrow has been in existence how long?
DB: I started Pierce Arrow in 1996.

BTC: How long has Pierce Arrow been in this theater.
DB: In 2000, along with some investors, I bought this theatre. Leaving the job I had was one of the hardest decisions of my career, but I felt a calling to do it. Our first show in this theatre was on May 22, 2000.

BTC: Do you own the theatre?
DB: Yes, I am the majority owner with my two brothers.

BTC: What do you do in your roll as Executive Producer of the show.
DB: I am involved with every aspect of the theatre and show, from production, lighting, wardrobe, choreography, show content, hiring and firing etc. and whatever else it takes. On occasion, I have gone from singing to cleaning the theatre.

BTC: What is your first memory of Branson?
DB: How quaint it was and the overwhelming friendliness of the people.

BTC: What do you like best about performing in Branson?
DB: The opportunity to perform such a wide variety of music and the wholesomeness of Branson.

BTC: What’s your favorite thing to do in Branson when you are not performing?
DB: Being at home with my family and our horses.

BTC: Where is your favorite place to eat in Branson – Favorite dish?
DB: Paradise Grill right across the street from our theatre. I just love their steaks.

BTC: If you could perform or meet with any entertainer/person (living or deceased) who would it be and why?
DB: Trace Adkins, a country singer, because of his music.

BTC: In all the performances of Pierce Arrow that you have been involved with, either as a performer or an executive producer, which one personally meant the most to you?
DB: Performing for President George W. Bush in Joplin, Mo.

BTC:  Do you have a favorite hobby or activity and what is it?
DB: Raising horses.

BTC: Do you have a “little known” fact about yourself that you think our readers would enjoy?|
DB: I am known for making the best homemade biscuits and gravy in Branson. Just ask my kids and their friends.

BTC: What is the funniest thing that has happened to you in front of an audience?
DB: The night when I was rushing to get into position to go out on stage, but tripped and went flying out through the curtains across the stage, skipping like a rock in a pond.

BTC: What part the show do you enjoy performing the most, and why?
DB: The patriotic finale because it thanks the Veterans, the members of the military and their families for their service and sacrifices and moves so many people.

BTC: If I were planning a trip to Branson why should I plan to see your show?
DB: Because you’re on vacation and you will feel like you’re at a party. When you leave you feel happy and entertained.

BTC: If I were coming with children ages 9 through 14 would your answer be the same and why?
DB: Yes. Our show is very visual. Kids love our active comedy, music choices and things like our moving stage.

BTC: Anything else you want our readers to know?
DB: Often people come up and say, “Dan, you sure are lucky.” I reply, “No, but I sure am blessed.” God has blessed me with a wonderful family, opportunities and the community of Branson in which I work, live and raise my family and for that I am very thankful.

For more information on the Pierce Arrow 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 visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com, or calling one of their Branson-based Travel Planners at 1-800-785-1550. They will be delighted to answer questions about all that Branson has to offer as well as assist you in getting the best available seating at shows, lodging, and explain how packaging your theatre and lodging together can save you money.

It’s no illusion, the diversity of Branson music shows is absolutely amazing!

The Million Dollar Quartet, David Brooks as Jerry Lee Lewis, left, 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"

The Million Dollar Quartet, David Brooks as Jerry Lee Lewis, left, 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”

“From the magic of Illusionist Rick Thomas to Reza Edge of Illusion, and many in-between, Branson is blessed with a variety of some of the finest illusionists in the world, but one thing is for certain, the quality and diversity of Branson’s music shows is no illusion!” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “Here’s four shows, from our list of Most Popular and Requested Branson Shows, that illustrate the point,” she added.

Million Dollar Quartet: A singular moment, when four of the most extraordinary musical talents of our time, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins, came together for one unforgettable night, is captured in this amazing production based on an actual event! Even neater, is the fact that the music in this show, songs such as 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, and many more, are songs many already know and grew up with, not songs specifically written for the show. When I saw this show I said, “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 story line 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.”

The Haygoods: An amazing Branson experience! Excellent choreography, exquisite harmonies, state-of-the-art sound and special effects, a delightful sense of humor, and energy that never quits, you get it all in one show from one phenomenal family! In a recent review of this show I wrote, “Based on over 30 years of seeing Branson shows…I can testify to the fact that 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,’ it’s two hours of the most unique, innovative, talented, energetic, personable, and exciting entertainment you will ever experience on a Branson stage.”

Clay Cooper’s Country Music Express: This show is great country music and so much more. When you take an entertainer like Clay Cooper and blend in a great band, some of the best dancers and choreographed dance routines in Branson, the comedy of Matt Gumm, the rope and gun handling performance of Johnny Lonestar and the strategically placed vocal performances of other cast members, it is over two hours of the finest nonstop “express,” or otherwise, entertainment in Branson hosted by a performer who can work an audience as beautifully as he sings and his wife choreographs and dances.”

The amazing SIX.

The amazing SIX.

SIX: This unique show is another outstanding example of the diversity of Branson’s music shows. You will hear the sounds of percussion, strings, horns and other instruments, but they’re just nowhere to be found! You will experience two hours of the most unique, exciting, and memorable music you have ever heard; great vocals along with the sound of an actual band with all of the sounds, both vocal and instrumental, coming from the same place, the mouths of the SIX Knudsen brothers. It truly is an amazing thing to see, hear, and experience and something that will not soon be forgotten.

For more information on these or other great Branson shows or lodging 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

 

 

Just how good are you at Dixie Stampede Trivia?

The beautiful horses, color, pageantry of Dixie Stampede's Finale Finale .*

The beautiful horses, color, and pageantry of Dixie Stampede’s Finale .*

Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede is easily Branson’s most visited dinner attraction,” said Preston Garrison, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. With a twinkle in his eye, he added, “No surprise there, after all it’s billed as ‘The World’s Most Visited Dinner Attraction,’ but I’ve always wondered, just how many horseshoes do all those horses use each year?”

That got me thinking, outside of the fact that the answer to that question would make a great trivia question, that there’s an awful lot that goes into creating the fun, adventure, pageantry, and excitement that those attending Dixie Stampede get to experience. Who better to turn to for answers and information about that than John Richardson, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Dixie Stampede Dinner Attraction?

Richardson shared a list of facts that was developed by Dixie Stampede, in response to questions that guests have asked about the show and its animals, that “illustrates the scope and scale of its production.” We thought it would be fun to take that information and present it in a Question and Answer (Q&A) format, and hope that you find it as interesting and fascinating as we did:

Q: Where does the white sand for the arena floor come from and how much is used each year?
A: Over 200 tons of white sand is “imported” from South Carolina for the arena floor each year.

Q: Why is that sand used and not some other material?
A: It creates a surface that is dust-free and gentler for the horses’ legs.

Q: How many yards of lace and ribbon are used on each Dixie Stampede Southern Belle costume?
A: Twenty yards.

Q: What are the dimensions of the “Conestoga Wagons” used in the show?
A: Each measures 25’8” long by 9’ high and is a true replica of those that carried settlers westward on the great wagon trains.

Q: What kind of horses are pulling the Wagons?
A: Each is pulled by teams of 2000-pound Belgian draft horses, known for their intelligence, size and strength.

Q: How many white doves of peace are released during the Patriotic Finale?
A: More than 50 which are raised and cared for on the Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede premises. Doves are always born in pairs; the female hatches first followed by the more aggressive male.

Q: How much grain do the stars of Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede, the 32 magnificent horses, consume each year?
A: 104,000 pounds of grain per year.

Q: How many bales of hay do they consume?
A: The horses consume 3,500 bales of hay per year, weighing approximately 262,500 pounds.

Q: How many horseshoes do the Dixie Stampede horses go through each year?
A: Over 1,152.

Q: What are the horses bedded on?
A: 13,200 bales of hay and approximately 528,000 pounds of pine shavings each year which is kept clean and dry by round-the-clock stable hands.

Q: How much does the Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede’s buffalo herd weigh?
A: It weighs in at more than four tons.

The "Roman Ride" through a ring of fire.

The “Roman Ride” through a ring of fire.*

Q: What is the “Roman Ride?”
A: It’s an historic type of trick riding, featuring a team of two horses moving side-by-side with one rider standing astride them with one foot on each horse. Dixie Stampede’s Roman Riders have the added degrees of difficulty of splitting columns of fire, being surrounded by firefly torches, and ultimately jumping through the Hoop of Fire.

Q: What does its “signature four-course feast include?
A: Original creamy vegetable soup and a hot homemade biscuit; a tender whole rotisserie chicken; hickory-smoked barbequed pork loin; buttery corn on the cob; herb-basted potatoes; Dixie Stampede’s very own specialty dessert, and unlimited beverages, including Pepsi products. [Author’s Note: Having eaten it a number of times over the years, I can testify that it’s delicious and I have never left hungry!]

For more information or tickets for Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services at 1-800-785-1550 or through its website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

* Courtesy of Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede

Does anything say Branson more than these six epic attractions?

Three of Branson's epic attractions, Silver Dollar City's iconic Wildfire Coaster with an incredible view of Table Rock Lake, the Sight & SoundTheatre, and the Titanic.

Three of Branson’s epic attractions, Silver Dollar City’s iconic Wildfire Coaster with an incredible view of Table Rock Lake, the Sight & Sound Theatre, home of “Moses,” and the Titanic Museum Attraction.

“Branson is blessed with a seeming list of infinite possibilities for fun, excitement, and entertainment all headlined by its fabulous selection of live shows and great attractions,” said Preston Garrison, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. He went on to say that, as the word “attraction” is commonly defined, “a thing or place that draws visitors by providing something of interest or pleasure,” all of Branson’s shows, and many other activities, could meet that definition.

When asked, “In 2016, of all of Branson’s attractions, which specific attraction do you believe is the most popular,” he smiled, shook his head, and said that it depended on a lot of factors, but that he’d bet it would come from this list of six epic Branson attractions:

Silver Dollar City: “When it comes to phenomenal, world-class theme parks, it doesn’t get any better than Branson’s biggest paid attraction,” the 1880s styled Silver Dollar City! “Live music, thrilling rides, demonstrating craftsmen, incredible food, exceptional shopping, amusements for the little ones, seasonal and themed festivals and events, and even more awaits you!”

Branson Landing: Is the largest and most unique shopping attraction in Branson. The 95-acre, $435 million public/private multiuse project spans 1.5 miles of waterfront on Lake Taneycomo, and is conveniently located adjacent to historic downtown Branson. It’s combination of luxury condos and over 120 retail stores, kiosks and restaurants including “eclectic shops, national retailers, fine dining, intimate cafes and nightspots,” Main Street Lake Cruises, two floating restaurants, and the spectacular free Branson Landing Fountains, makes it one of the most popular attractions in Branson.

Titanic Museum Attraction: Not simply a museum, it’s an interactive attraction that shares the stories of those who were onboard for the famous ocean voyage that has fascinated the world for more than a century.” This attraction features special tributes, exhibits, and interactive activities that are as much fun and adventure as they are educational and inspiring.

Dixie Stampede: Dolly Parton’s “Dixie Stampede” is the perfect family destination in Branson for exciting entertainment and a fantastic four-course feast! Called the World’s Most Visited Dinner Attraction™, “Dixie” boasts a variety of fun features that include a lumberjack relay, racing pigs, buffalo, and 32 beautiful horses showcased in captivating equestrian feats.

Sight and Sound Theatre: With its 300-foot surround stage, animals, and spectacular productions Sight and Sound Theatre brings the epic stories of the bible to life in an exciting, inspiring, and entertaining manner. The story of Moses, its latest production and easily Branson’s most popular show, tells the story of one man’s journey from being a humble and broken man to becoming the follower of God who delivers the children of Israel from enslavement. It is presented by a phenomenal cast with astonishing sets, absolutely amazing special effects, a brilliant score, and stunning costumes.

Table Rock Lake: An impoundment of the White River behind the 6,423 foot-long Table Rock Dam was completed in 1959 and is easily one of Branson’s most epic attractions. Its 43,100 surface acres and 745 miles of shoreline provides a virtual aquatic paradise for Branson residents and visitors to fish, boat and play. It is the symbol of the natural beauty that is an inherent part of the Branson experience and the home of the Showboat Branson Belle.

For more information on these attractions 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 visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com, or calling 1-800-785-1550.