One of Branson’s most iconic structures of the past has a new lease on life as award-winning singer/songwriter and Branson favorite Billy Yates recently opened Billy Yates’ Choices Concert Hall, a new restaurant and concert/dance hall set to host new shows, as well as touring acts, beginning with country music hitmaker T. Graham Brown Saturday night.
“Good ol’ Billy Yates opened up a place and we’re going to come and do some singin,’” Brown said. “I really can’t wait to see it. I love him, and we’ve been friends for a long time.”
Brown, who takes the Choices stage Saturday night, began his music career by singing advertising jingles for companies such as McDonald’s, Disneyland and Budweiser. He was also the singing narrator in the Taco Bell “Run For the Border” TV commercials.
After signing with Capitol Records in 1984, Brown’s tunes hit charts two years later with the release of “I Tell It Like It Used to Be,” which reached No. 7 on the charts. That album spawned four singles, including the No. 3 hit “I Wish That I Could Hurt That Way Again” and two straight No. 1’s in “Hell and High Water” and “Don’t Go to Strangers.”
His next album produced three more top 10 hits, followed by three more top 30 hits, including “Darlene,” his final No. 1. He has also performed duets with many country artists, and has continued to tour the country for the past 20-plus years.
“We’re going to do all the songs everybody wants to hear, and man, I have a rockin’ band,” he said. “It’s going to be fun.”
In addition to performing “around 60 or so” shows a year, Brown is also keeping busy with a new project.
“Last month I had the debut of a new show on Sirius XM’s Prime Country called ‘Live Wire with T. Graham Brown,’ and I play cuts off of people’s live albums,” he said. “I had a blast man, and they’re going to run it six or seven times a month, when we’re going to do it once a month. I’m having more fun now than I ever did when I was having hits.
“I was so busy back then ... now I don’t have anything left to prove, and I’m just doing what I think God wants me to do.”
The Choices Concert Series will feature Gary Morris Oct. 5, the man behind “The Wind Beneath My Wings,” “Velvet Chains,” and “Why Lady Why.” Former Little Texas frontman Tim Rushlow, who provided the vocals for the Little Texas hits “God Blessed Texas” and “What Might’ve Been,” will perform Nov. 16, followed by ”Nashville Nights” star Heath Wright and Ricochet Nov. 23.
In addition to concerts, the venue, which takes its name from Yates’ Grammy award-winning hit “Choices,” also features the new show “Nashville Nights,” which “features actual country music stars performing their own hits, plus a few of their favorites as well.”
“Nashville Nights” runs through mid-December with 7:30 p.m. shows Monday through Thursday.
In addition to “Nashville Nights,” Yates’ other show, “Billy Yates Hit Songwriters in the Round,” is also calling Choices home this fall. “Billy Yates’ Hit Songwriters in the Round” features 2 p.m. performances Sunday through Tuesday.
The Choices Saloon and Concert Hall will also feature a full restaurant, line dance lessons, jam nights, a bar and more.