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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Urban Cowboys ride into the sunset Monday
The “Urban Cowboy Reunion Show,” starring country hitmakers Mickey Gilley and Johnny Lee, will wrap this season Monday afternoon at the Mickey Gilley Grand Shanghai Theatre in Branson.
Gilley’s career has spanned more than 50 years and includes 17 No. 1 hits, including “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, plus movie and television roles, 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 also recorded several songs used in the soundtrack.
“It shot me and Johnny Lee into the stratosphere,” Gilley said with a grin. “I’m not saying this to brag, but in the early 1980s, we were the hottest thing in country music. We had a manager who didn’t really know what he was doing, so maybe we didn’t get some of the accolades we should have gotten out of it. But the bottom line is, we probably weren’t as good as we thought we were anyway (laughs).”
In his personal life, Gilley has dealt with plane crashes, emergency surgeries and learning to walk again after a 2009 fall that left him paralyzed.
After a year of rehab, he returned to the stage, and he continues to work hard on his rehab, even though he still can’t play the piano.
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.”
Lee became a fixture in Branson in the 1990s, and is still one of the most popular acts in town whenever he performs.
Gilley and Lee have been working together since the 1960s, and have shared the stage at some point in every decade since.
During the show, Gilley and Lee perform many of their biggest hits, as well as a few personal favorites, before coming together on the stage for the “Urban Cowboy” section of the show.
The two of them, along with the fantastic “Urbanettes,” Georgina Holiday and Stephanie Wilson-Hall, take turns reeling off hits from the soundtrack of the film “Urban Cowboy,” which spawned a handful of No. 1 hits.
This show, and these performers, are among my favorites in Branson, and I’ve never not had a great time watching the “Urban Cowboy Reunion.” It has the hits, the star power, comedy and the heart to appeal to anyone who enjoys having fun and being in the presence of awesomeness.
Showtimes are 8 p.m. Sunday, and 3 p.m. Monday. Visit gilleys.com.
Lee Greenwood performs a Christmas show at Bandstand
Up Close Concerts and Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater are wrapping the concert season by hosting Lee Greenwood, the man who made “God Bless the U.S.A.” a staple of American pride, for a special Christmas show.
The country singer/songwriter already had several hits in the early 1980s, but it wasn’t until 1983 when, in the back of a tour bus, he penned the song he would most be associated with.
“‘God Bless the U.S.A.” is the song I always felt the need to write,” Greenwood said. “I wanted to have something that would unite Americans from coast to coast. I wrote that song as a way to help unification, even though I wrote it during a time of peace.”
The song appeared on 1984’s album “You’ve Got a Good Love Comin,’” and reached No. 7 on the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart. The song gained greater prominence during the Gulf War in 1990 and 1991, as a way of boosting morale.
The popularity of the song again rose following the Sept. 11 attacks, as well as during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. “God Bless the USA” was re-released as a single, re-entering the country music charts at No. 16, and even peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart in 2001.
In addition to “God Bless the U.S.A.,” Greenwood has a string of hits including “Ring on Her Finger, Time on Her Hands,” “Somebody’s Gonna Love You,” “Holdin’ A Good Hand,” “She’s Lyin’” and “Dixie Road.”
Greenwood is slated to perform his favorite holiday tunes in addition to his hits.
Shows set for 2020 at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater include Amy Grant March 8, Ronnie McDowell with two special shows April 1, as well as Wink Martindale April 2 as part of the Branson Elvis Festival, Pat Boone and Billy Dean on Mother’s Day, May 10, 2020, and Janie Fricke with special guests Moore & Moore on June 21.
Phil Vassar and Billy Yates will perform at the Welk Resort Theatre March 28, 2020, followed by Michael W. Smith May 9, T.G. Sheppard and Greenwood Oct. 3, then Jay and the Americans and BJ Thomas Oct. 17.
On Oct. 24, 2020, the Welk Resort Theatre will host the final Up Close Concert in Branson featuring a “60s Supershow” starring Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Mitch Ryder, Dennis Tufano, Brian Hyland and Chris Montez.
“We still have a few more concerts to announce for next year and it will be a blast,” Cannella added.
Dailey & Vincent’s ‘Joy of Christmas’
The Mansion Theatre will see the final appearance of the duo of Dailey & Vincent Thursday at 8 p.m. when they present the “Joys of Christmas” show.
These bluegrass and American music standouts have made the Mansion Theatre their home away from home in Branson, and their last show of the season is set to include classic and original Christmas music, as well as several tunes featured on their “Joys of Christmas” album, which was released earlier this year.
Dailey & Vincent have been on top of the bluegrass world for more than a decade, and they are already universally recognized as one of the best bluegrass bands around. In addition to being three-time Grammy award nominees in 2014, the duo has captured the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Entertainers, IBMA, of the Year and Vocal Group of the year three times, Album of the Year for “Dailey & Vincent” in 2008 and “Dailey & Vincent Sing the Statler Brothers” in 2010.