Oct 18, 2010

Branson, Missouri is for music lovers

I was surprised when I learned that Branson has more theater seats than New York’s Broadway District. It is an incredible destination for anyone who loves music. It is possible to attend a show every morning, afternoon and evening.

On the night of our arrival John and I went to hear the Oak Ridge Boys. They are the same Oak Ridge Boys that teamed up in the 1970s. They started as a Gospel group then reinvented themselves as country stars with their 1977 hit, “Y’All Come Back Saloon.” The show started with “The Boys Are Back” to the roaring approval of the crowd. The show included all their signature songs: “American Made,” “Elvira,” and “Sail Away.” At the end of “Touch a Hand, Make a Friend” we made friends with the people seated near us. It was a wonderful, upbeat introduction to Branson.

The next morning at 10 a.m. we were back in a theater. This time to see The Platters at the Starlight Theater. Oh, the memories that came flooding back upon hearing “My Prayer,” “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” and “The Great Pretender.” People were encouraged to dance on the small area in front of the stage or in the aisles, and they did. Even though they sounded just like I remembered I took a close look at them and quickly realized they could not be the original members. During intermission instead of taking a break The Platters come down off the stage and chatted with people. I found out that only one of the original Platters is still living and does not perform. It didn’t make any difference to me, or the rest of the audience, because the sound was the same.

The music continued during lunch at Mel’s Hard Luck Diner, home of Branson's original singing servers. Most of the staff are professional singers, song writers, and musicians who take turns singing and serving.

Then it was off hear The Twelve Irish Tenors that included a selection of Irish folk songs, opera numbers, modern rock classics, and pop with a special tribute to the Beatles and Barry Manilow. Of course, “Danny Boy” and “When Irish Eyes are Smiling” were our favorites.

Dining at Andy Williams Moon River Café didn’t have live singers but plenty of his music wafted through the restaurant and his gold and platinum records are on display above the bar. In the evening we went to see the Haygoods, an amazing family of seven boys and one girl. They claim that they did not come from a musical family but it was hard to believe as they play an amazing variety of instruments from the harp to drums to the saxophone. They have been performing together for 18 years and the youngest is 17. Their show is one of the most energetic we have ever seen.

Actually, there is more to do in Branson besides attending the theater. We also went hiking, boating, took the Ozark Zephyr Scenic Railway, visited museums, and spent the entire day at Silver Dollar City, a theme park par excellent with 100 artisans demonstrating their crafts, and 40 live shows daily.

There were a plethora of shows we did not have time to see. Branson is one of those places we would definitely like to revisit. New acts are added all the time. For more information check branson.com.