Greetings my Loyal Reader(s), and welcome to the latest edition of the Branson Beat, your home for all the news on the Branson entertainment scene.

As always, feel free to drop me a line at jclark@bransontrilakesnews.com, or send me a message via our Branson Tri-Lakes News Facebook page.

Now, let’s get to it. 

Newness for Leroy and  the ‘Marty Robbins’ show  

Last week I got to see my old pal Leroy New and his “A Tribute to Marty Robbins and Classic Country Stars” show, now calling the Dutton Family Theatre home, and his production team at the venue has added quite a few changes to the show.

This is New’s first year at the Dutton Theater after calling the Little Opry Theatre home for many years, and his show has expanded to fill up his new venue, complete with awesome lights and sound, as well as a new stage presentation. 

New continues to share Robbins’ biggest hits, as well as some of his personal favorites like “Big Iron,” “Devil Woman,” “El Paso” and many more. Joining New, who is also known as “Branson’s Guitar Wizard,” is utility man Eric Green and another of my favorite musicians, Kenny Christensen on the keys.

As I have stated many times before, I’m a big fan of New and his show, which is as “old school” as it gets, but the addition of production value firmly places it on another level, show-wise. It’s always awesome to see a production grow, especially when it is evident the cast and crew love what they’re doing, and make every effort to make it the best it can be.

Check out “A Tribute to Martin Robbins and Classic Country Stars” featuring Leroy New at 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays until Oct. 1, when they’ll add 10 a.m. shows Wednesdays and Fridays.

Call 417-332-2772 for more.

‘New Music Showcase & Songwriting Contest’ Wednesday at Bandstand

The “2019 Southwest Missouri New Music Showcase & Songwriting Contest,” which also doubles as a fundraiser to benefit the Branson-Hollister Senior Center, is set for Wednesday night at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater.

Representatives from the Branson-Hollister Senior Center were forced to rethink their fundraising efforts several years back, so they reached out to local musicians Prince Ivan, and the “New Music Showcase” was born. The fist showcase raised somewhere between $6-7,000.

This event will again see a handful of local singers, songwriters and entertainers, including Prince Ivan, perform original music to help raise funds. The contestants participate in a “Songland-style songwriting contest” on the Bandstand stage.

First prize is $200 cash and one single recording, mixing and mastering package from “a professional studio,” $200 for second place, and $100 for third. As always, folks from the senior center will hold a 50/50 drawing.

Visit princeivan.com/songwritingcontest to read the rules and register for the event.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for those ages 6-12, and free for 5 and under. Tickets are available at the Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater box office, or by calling 417-339-3003.

‘Urban Cowboys’ back Sunday  

Two of my favorite performers of all time, Mickey Gilley and Johnny Lee, return to their Branson home at the Mickey Gilley Grand Shanghai Theatre Sunday afternoon for the “The Urban Cowboy Reunion Show.” 

These two country hitmakers bring back some of their chart-topping songs, complete with memories of the 1980 hit movie, “Urban Cowboy.” 

Gilley has been churning out honky tonk and country music for 50 years, capturing a ridiculously awesome 17 No. 1 hits, more than Loretta Lynn, Marty Robbins, Waylon Jennings, Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton and George Jones. His biggest hits include  “Room Full of Roses,” “Window Up Above,” “Stand By Me” and “Paradise Tonight.” Gilley also took home five Academy of Country Music Award wins in one night with song of the year for “Don’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time,” single of the year for “Bring it On Home,” album of the year, male vocalist and entertainer of the year.

He also had loads of movie and television roles which earned him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and owner of the “World’s Largest Honky Tonk,” which was featured in the film “Urban Cowboy,” a box office hit starring John Travolta and Deborah Winger. Gilley and Lee also recorded several songs used in the soundtrack.

Lee, Gilley’s “Urban Cowboy” co-star, began pursuing a career in music immediately after returning home from Vietnam in 1968. Soon after, he began a working relationship with Gilley, both on the road and in the nightclub in Pasadena, Texas.

He was then asked to perform in the film “Urban Cowboy.” 

The massively popular “Lookin’ for Love” became his signature hit and first Gold Record, spending three weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Music Singles Chart and reached as high as No. 2 on Billboard’s Pop Music Singles Charts. He followed that with “One In A Million,” “Bet Your Heart On Me,” “The Yellow Rose” and “Cherokee Fiddle.”

Gilley has always had one of, if not my all-time favorite Branson show, and he and the rest of the talented cast are keeping that opinion alive and well. Gilley, Lee, the Urban Cowboy Band, along with the fantastic “Urbanettes,” Georgina Holiday and Stephanie Wilson-Hall, will entertain, enthrall and flat-out get after it. 

I can’t recommend this awesome show enough.

The “Urban Cowboy Reunion” show returns Sept. 15 and runs at 8 p.m. Sundays, and 3 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 2. 

Visit gilleys.com for more.

6th Annual Stagecoach Days Festival

The folks in Kirbyville, located just outside Branson, are gearing up for the 6th Annual Stagecoach Days Festival, set for 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Kirbyville Middle School. 

According to a release, there will be several fun activities, as well as free pulled pork sandwiches, hot dogs, chips and cold water being provided until supplies run out, beginning at 11 a.m. 

Some seating will be provided, but folks are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets.

Oak Ridge Boys at the Mansion next week

Country Music Hall of Famers, five-time Grammy Award-winners, nine-time Gospel Music Association Dove Award-winners, and one of Branson’s most popular acts, the Oak Ridge Boys, will kick off the fall leg of their “Shine a Light” tour at the Mansion Theatre Sept. 18.

Not only are the Oak Ridge Boys one of the most popular country music acts of the past 40 years, the group, Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall, William Lee Golden and Richard Sterban, are also members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

After many years of paying their dues, the boys finally snagged their first hit with the release of the 1977 album “Y’all Come Back Saloon.” Their first No. 1 single, “I’ll Be True To You,” followed in 1978. In 1981, the group hit it big with the pop crossover hit “Elvira.” 

They followed that with many more massive hits like “Bobbie Sue,” “Trying To Love Two Women,” “Beautiful You,” “Fancy Free,” “I Guess It Never Hurts To Hurt Sometimes,” “Make My Life With You,” and “Touch A Hand, Make A Friend.”

The Oak Ridge Boys will perform at 8 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays except Oct. 30 and 31. They’ll perform Nov. 1 and 2 instead, and continue through Nov. 21.

‘Of Mice and Men’ at Owen Theatre next week

Forte Theatre Productions LLC and the Branson Regional Arts Council are collaborating to bring five performances of the theatrical classic “Of Mice and Men” to the stage of the Historic Owen Theatre Sept. 19, 22 and 23.

Written by John Steinbeck, “Of Mice and Men” follows the journey of Lennie and George, two migrant field workers as they chase down their dream of a farm of their own. 

Their relationship is unconventional as Lennie is a child-like man who doesn’t know his own strength, and George, his reluctant caretaker, feels the pressures of society to hide Lennie’s uniqueness.

The Forte Theatre Production of “Of Mice and Men” is said to be “a refreshingly energetic and active retelling of the classic American story,” according to Forte Director, Kyle Blanchard.

Performances are set for 7:30 p.m. Sept. 19, 7:30pm, and 2 and 7 p.m. Sept. 22 and 23.  

A special talk-back performance of the show will be held on Monday, Sept. 23 at 2 p.m. where the actors will hit the stage after the play and answer questions from the audience. 

This special Monday matinee event is being offered at a “student price for all” ticket.

Visit bransonarts.org/tix or call the Historic Owen Theatre box office at 417-336-4255.

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