John Denver

Shannon Comer, from left, Shawn Pittman and James Garrett headline the “Tribute to John Denver Show” at the Little Opry Theatre, located inside Branson’s Imax Entertainment Complex.

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.

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Now, let’s get to it. 

‘Rocky Mountain High’ with Garrett’s Denver tribute  

For more than a decade, James Garrett has been a staple at the Branson Imax Entertainment Complex’s Little Opry Theatre with his morning production, “A Tribute to John Denver.” I’ve always been a fan Garrett’s “Glen Campbell Songbook” and “George Strait Country” shows, but I’ve always had a soft spot for his “Tribute to John Denver” show.

During this show, Garrett, who spent time with two-time Grammy winning group the Kendalls as lead male vocalist and rhythm guitar player, takes audiences on a stroll through the “Country Roads” of Denver’s career, from deep cuts to the top of the charts, and everything between. While telling stories about Denver, Garrett also intertwines stories of his own life and experiences with the Denver family.

There’s also plenty of interaction with the audience, and Garrett encourages requests and interactions, which lends itself perfectly to the Little Opry Theatre. Garrett is quite knowledgeable when it comes to Denver’s catalogue, and if the audience stumps him, he’s not scared to pull up some lyrics and give it a try anyway.

This is a fun and interactive show that zips by in a flash thanks to the great music, as well as Garrett’s band, which features one of Branson’s favorite bass players Randy Plummer, Shannon Comer on percussion and Shawn Pittman on just about every other instrument there is, including the dulcimer. In addition to being supremely talented, Pittman also serves as comic relief, and his antics caught me off guard more than once. 

The folks who can entertain while being themselves are always a pleasure to watch, and Garrett and his boys hit each and every beat needed for a fun time.

It is also worth mentioning that while Garrett is performing a tribute to Denver, Strait and Campbell across his three shows, he is not an impersonator.

“Being myself works for what we’re doing here,” Garrett said. “I don’t look or sound like either one of those guys, and I don’t try to. We’re here to celebrate and enjoy the music of these great artists, and that’s exactly what we do.”

“A Tribute to John Denver” takes the stage at 10 a.m. every day except Sunday. “George Strait Country” takes the stage at 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. The “Glen Campbell Songbook” show is at 2 p.m. each Monday and Wednesday.

Those shows run through Aug. 17, then Garrett and the guys take a break until they return with a full slate of shows Sept. 2. 

Visit for more. 

Dallas Wayne, Buddy Tomberlin join Yates at ‘Songwriters’  

One of my favorite shows, “Billy Yates’ Hit Songwriters in the Round” at the Americana Theatre, is set to welcome hit songwriter Dallas Wayne, who also happens to be a popular DJ on Sirius XM’s “Willie’s Roadhouse,” and Bobby Tomberlin, who has penned tunes for Diamond Rio, Faith Hill, Kenny Rogers and more.

The show is hosted by Yates, an award-winning and Grammy-nominated songwriter himself, who has penned more than 2,000 songs, some of which have been recorded by the likes of George Strait, George Jones, Kenny Chesney, and more.  In fact, Yates co-wrote the Jones classics, “I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair” and the Grammy-award winning, “Choices.”

“Hit Songwriters in the Round” is “unscripted, unplugged,” and features Yates and two different hit songwriters telling the stories behind, and performing, their biggest hit songs.

Yates will be joined by Wayne, a native of Springfield, who is a singer, songwriter, radio DJ, voice-over artist, actor and music producer. His most recent album was last year’s “Songs The Jukebox Taught Me Volume 2,” was released on the Heart of Texas Records label. Wayne has performed throughout North America and Europe, releasing 12 albums of his own, and performing on various compilation and band recordings including the honky-tonk super groups Heybale! and the TwangBangers, as well as a Grammy-nominated bluegrass album. He can be heard six days a week on SiriusXM Radio on Willie’s Roadhouse, channel 59, as well as Outlaw Country on channel 60.

Tomberlin is a Grammy, CMA and ACM nominee who began his career in the music business at the age of eleven as a disc jockey in his hometown of Luverne, Alabama. During this time, he interviewed legends such as Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Keith Whitley. 

Mel Tillis gave Tomberlin his first publishing contract, and he is currently a staff songwriter for Curb Music Publishing in Nashville. Tomberlin co-wrote the No. 1 Country and Top 5 Adult Contemporary single “One More Day” for Diamond Rio, and co-authored the inspirational book by the same title. He also co-wrote the Top 10 hit single, “A Good Day To Run” with Darryl Worley, as well as the hit, “Country” with Mo Pitney and Bill Anderson. 

He has also has also had songs recorded by Barbra Streisand, Blake Shelton, Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, Josh Turner, Jerry Lee Lewis, Joe Nichols, Pam Tillis, Thompson Square, Rodney Atkins, Joe Diffie, Sylvia, David Nail, Chris Young, Terri Clark, Little Jimmy Dickens, the Oak Ridge Boys, Lee Greenwood, Ty Herndon, Linda Davis, Dylan Scott, T.G. Sheppard, Jett Williams, actor Chris Pine, Eddy Arnold, Russ Taff, Runaway June, and many others. 

Tomberlin has graced the stage of the Grand Ole Opry with Larry Gatlin, and has shared the stage with icons Vince Gill, Mac Davis and Bill Anderson. He is featured on Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Bill Medley’s recent DVD, where he interviews Bill at the Capitol Studios Hollywood.

He was also a cast member of the CMT hit series “The Singing Bee” for five seasons and appeared in the film “Brake,” starring Stephen Dorff. Tomberlin is also set to co-star in the upcoming film, Wheeler, with Stephen Dorff and Kris Kristofferson.

This is one of the most unique shows in Branson, and definitely worth checking out.

Showtimes are 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are available at the Americana Theatre box office.

Mark Chapman Band at Branson Landing Saturday night  

The free Summer Concert Series at Branson Landing, which features a handful of free concerts in front of the fountains throughout the year, rolls on this weekend with a Branson Landing pre-concert Glitz & Glam Fashion Show from 6:45 to 7 p.m., followed by he Mark Chapman Band at 7 p.m.

MCB, as they’re known, have toured throughout Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, and has provided tour support for notable country stars Josh Turner, Cole Swindell, JoDee Messina, Joe Nichols, as well as The Eli Young Band, to name a few. Mark Chapman has performed both with his MCB and solo, receiving airplay in 19 markets with his debut album “Who Knew.”  

MCB recently won “Best Group” and “Best Male Vocalist” for the KTTS Country Music awards. They have been fan voted  “Best Original Band” for 417 Magazine’s Best of 2014, 2015, and 2016.  “Battle For The Saddle” contest winners in 2013, the MCB was the house band for the Worldfamous Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville, and recorded their single, “Big Time” with award winning producers Michael Knox and Mickey Cones.

The next free concert event is set for Aug. 9, and finds a Branson Landing pre-concert Glitz & Glam Fashion Show from 6:45 to 7 p.m., followed by Prince Ivan at 7 p.m.

Prince Ivan, consisting of singer/songwriters Brydon Brett, Aaron Ellsworth and a full band, began several years back, and has headlined many dates over the last few seasons at the Mickey Gilley Grand Shanghai Theatre, and are gearing up to release a full length album titled “The Preface,” which is set to be released sometime this summer.

The Summer Concert Series wraps Aug. 30 with a Branson Landing pre-concert Glitz & Glam Fashion Show from 6:45 to 7 p.m., followed by Soul DeVille at 7 p.m.

Soul DeVille will present a “shaken, not stirred” 70’s party set list, featuring everything from Steely Dan, Chic, Blondie, Alicia Bridges, Prince, Hall n Oats, The Commodores, Dr. Hook, Pablo Cruise, Redbone, Michael Jackson, Rare Earth, the Emotions, Bee Gees, SOS Band, Aretha Franklin and more.

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