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 email@example.com, or send me a message via our Branson Tri-Lakes News Facebook page.
Now, let’s get to it.
‘#1 Hits of the 60s’
While any time of the year is perfect to cruise by the Clay Cooper Theatre and see the talented folks at the “#1 Hits of the 60s” show, there’s something about catching this show during Veterans Homecoming Week that makes it extra special.
See, Loyal Reader(s), not only does this show features some of the best music ever made, from some of the most iconic artists of the era that defined rock ‘n’ roll, it also serves as a time capsule for one of the most important and tumultuous decades ever.
The husband and wife duo of Matt Muhoberac and Amber Campbell, who also serve as owners, producers and stars, have been putting this show on for 17 seasons, and I think this is their best one yet, from song selection to cast, venue and production crew. In all, the cast highlights more than a hundred songs, in rapid-fire fashion, from the 1950s and 60s, from “bubble gum” to Elvis Presley and the Beatles, and everything between.
There’s plenty of costume changes, dancing, and even a trip back to high school, so if you’re a fan of good music, great talent and having fun, this show is most assuredly for you, no matter the time of year.
What makes this show so much more special during Veterans Homecoming Week is getting to experience the music with the folks who had it serve as the soundtrack of their lives. The 1960s is forever tied to the Vietnam war, and while almost every show in Branson does a tribute to the veterans, “#1 Hits of the 60s” has one of the best, and it’s directed to those Vietnam era veterans.
Muhoberac chose tunes that genuinely meant something to the men and women they’re honoring, and you can totally feel it in the crowd. Sometimes I feel like “patriotic” or “veterans tributes” can be a little pandering and sometimes downright cringy, but at “#1 Hits of the 60s,” I don’t feel that at all. It’s thoughtful, evokes emotion and just feels right.
Truly one of the coolest in town.
As awesome as the song selection and flow of the show is, it would be extremely difficult to pull off without a fantastic cast. Lucky for Campbell and Muhoberac, they’ve got that covered with Jason Michael Frost, Jordan Dickison, Eric Dalton, Kaylee Riggins and Kelly Parrish. They’re as talented a group as you’ll find in any town, and it’s quite amazing who they sing and dance while doing justice to all that great music without ever missing a beat.
Finally, the cast is rounded out by the Hit Men Band, consisting of Muhoberac on keys, guitarist Josh Carroll, bass player “Big” Mike Williamson, saxophone specialist Ryan Dunn and my man Dino Phillips on drums. Their energy and talent adds so much to the show, it’s difficult to imagine it without them.
So if you dig tunes from the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, Elvis Presley, the Crystals, the Shirelles, the Drifters, the Platters and just about any other hitmaker from the 1960s that is entertaining, educational and has heart, then this show is for you.
Showtimes are 2 p.m. Saturday through Tuesday, and every Thursday at the Clay Cooper Theatre.
Gene Watson, McCoy, Oaks at the Mansion
The Mansion Theatre is hosting three fantastic acts this week, kicking off Wednesday and Thursday with Neal McCoy taking the stage for 3 p.m. shows, followed by the Oak Ridge Boys at 8 p.m.
McCoy, a country music hitmaker and one of the most popular live acts working today, also boasts a boatload of hit tunes, including “No Doubt About It,” “Wink,” “The Shake,” “For a Change,” “You Gotta Love That” and “They’re Playin’ Our Song.” McCoy also plays everything else from rock ‘n’ roll to classic big-band era music, and I promise, it’s all fantastic.
He’s also a two-time winner of The Nashville Network-Music City News Entertainer of the Year award, Humanitarian of the Year, USO headliner.
McCoy will return for more 3 p.m. shows Nov. 20-21.
At 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 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, take the stage.
Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall, William Lee Golden and Richard Sterban took control of the famous group in the late 1960s, and snagged their first hit with the release of the 1977 album “Y’all Come Back Saloon.” In 1981, the group hit it big with “Elvira.”
They followed that with another crossover hit, “Bobbie Sue,” and the album went Gold. The current lineup has released more than 40 albums, scored 17 No. 1 hits, and sold more than 41 million albums. Other popular hits include “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 with return with their “Down Home Christmas Show” Nov. 13-14 and 20-21.
Friday night, Gene Watson, one of my favorite performers, takes the stage for a special 8 p.m. show. Watson got into the business in the early 1970s, performing in local clubs at night while working in a Houston auto body shop during the day.
During this time, he recorded a few tracks for regional record labels. Then in 1974, Capitol Records picked up his album entitled “Love in the Hot Afternoon” and released it nationally.
The title track was released in June 1975 and it quickly reached No. 3 on the Billboard chart. Throughout the next 15 years, Watson was a staple on the Top 20 charts. In all, he released six No. 1s, 22 Top 10s and 50 charted singles.
Watson has been touring ever since his breakthrough more than 40 years ago, performing some of his biggest hits like “Where Love Begins,” “Paper Rosie,” “Should I Go Home (or Should I Go Crazy),” “Nothing Sure Looked Good on You,” “14 Karat Mind,” “You’re Out Doing What I’m Here Doing Without,” and “Farewell Party,” which quickly became his signature song.
Loyal Reader(s), if you’ve never seen Watson perform, do yourself a favor and go. I promise a great time.
The Record Store Troubadours at Choices
Last weekend, I finally cruised over to Billy Yates’ Choices Concert Hall to grab a bite to eat and check out the weekend entertainment of Eric and Lindsey Heatherly, better known as The Record Store Troubadours.
Eric Heatherly burst onto the music scene in 2000 with his cover of one of the greatest country songs ever, the Statler Brothers’ 1965 hit “Flowers on the Wall.” His rendition was a Top 10 hit on the Billboard Country charts, eventually reaching No. 6.
Heatherly continues to work in the business, and still tours with acts such as Shania Twain. He also writes and records songs, and is slated to be in the studio in Nashville next week.
Several years ago he met Lindsey, and the two were almost immediately inseparable. Due to her love of Dolly Parton, Bonnie Raitt & Nancy Sinatra, old TV shows and movies, as well as all things vintage and thrift store-esque, Lindsey always felt like she was “born in the wrong decade.”
After attending college, she learned the art of performance and imaging by traveling from town to town as a professional musician playing music halls, festivals and clubs. She honed in on her retro style and became a thrift store guru, which helped pave the way for her own “Hillbilly Glam” lifestyle.
According to their website, the couple’s “mutual admiration for 60’s-90’s country music and appreciation for nostalgic films such as ‘Urban Cowboy,’ ‘Smokey & The Bandit,’ ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter,’ ‘WW & The Dixie Dance Kings’ and ‘Honeysuckle Rose’” has helped them become “an American dream called the Record Store Troubadours.”
The Record Store Troubadours are extremely talented, and have picked an outstanding playlist featuring several original tunes, as well as classic country favorites from Johnny Cash, Jerry Reed, Don Williams and many more, which is perfect to dance the night away.
Speaking of dancing, Choices has the largest dance floor in Branson, as well as a full bar and menu filled with some pretty awesome food.
I highly advise the bacon cheese fries, which was stupendous.
I’ve had more than my share of folks ask where they can go for dining, dancing and a few adult beverages, and now I can happily tell them to hit up Billy Yates’ Choices Concert Hall for all their “dancin’ in Branson” needs.
The Record Store Troubadours take the stage at 9:30 p.m. every Friday and Saturday, and 7 p.m. Sundays.
Look for more on The Record Store Troubadours in next week’s Branson This Week.
‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’ at the Owen
The Branson Regional Arts Council, BRAC, is gearing up to present the popular stage musical “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” based on the Academy Award winning MGM musical film by the same name, at the Historic Owen Theatre in downtown Branson. Shows are set for 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, as well as 2 p.m. shows Saturday and Sunday.
“Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” centers around Adam and his six unruly brothers, who are cleaned and trained up by Milly, Adam’s spirited new wife, and six other savvy women.
Advance reserved tickets are available, and highly recommended, by calling the box office at 417-336-4255, or at BransonArts.org/tix.