Branson, Missouri, and Bakersville Too!

April 19, 2011

We’d been hearing of Branson, MO, for many years. It was touted and hyped as the be-all, end-all of entertainment. A place where you could go hang out as long as you want, and never run out of fun, interesting things to do, or be entertained by. Thus were we motivated to take up the Time-Share promo offer to spend a few days there, as I mentioned in the first blog installment. Given all those expectations, our first impression of the place came up way short. Frankly, as we rolled into town on Hwy 76 Country, the Main Street of Branson, the place looked like a cross between Las Vegas and a strip mall! Cluttered, inconsistent, no-sign-ordinance streetscape, looking really junky, mile after mile. There’s even a “Hollywood Wax Museum” with a HUGE King Kong climbing its turret! But, there we were, and as we settled into our aforementioned HoJo for the night, we just weren’t sure about how our short visit was gonna turn out. Better, as it happened…

We hit our first show at 10AM on the 14th. It was a “John Denver” show, showing at a smaller venue within Branson’s iMax complex. A small but enthusiastic crowd witnessed a great show put on by Mr. James Garrett, who had been a friend of John’s while he was alive, and who knows ALL of Denver’s songs and their histories.

The performance was very personal; Garrett let the audience take photographs, sing along with the songs (of course, you know I just hated that! 🙂 ), and he took and honored all requests. Plus, his own singing was augmented by some great accompaniment, with Randy Plummer on Bass, Jim Glaspy on Banjo, and C.J. Newsom for a feminine touch.

We left the show, which had gone on for an enjoyable 2.5 hours, very impressed with the performance we’d witnessed, and our feelings towards Branson were starting to grow. Our next show just added to the feeling. Next day at 2PM, we attended a performance of “Shake, Rattle & Roll,” just an amazingly good song and dance performance of songs from the 50s and 60s, put on by a large ensemble cast. Very exciting, very high energy performance, just made you want to jump out of your seat (and we did at times!). And our final show was a performance of SIX, a vocal ensemble group of 6 Hughes brothers, who make ALL of their own sounds on stage. Sometimes this means that a couple of the brothers are making strumming and drumming noises for some pieces, but when they’re all singing, I said to Jane they sounded like a turbo-charged Barbershop Quartet! Really an amazing performance, in front of a large audience of roughly 2,000. See today’s gallery for teasers on the latter two groups; no photos were allowed in those two performances!

James Garrett mentioned that there are currently 151 acts being actively performed day in and day out in Branson. If you think about the numbers, this means that there a helluva lot of entertainers making a living in that fair town. Judging from our random sample of three acts, I’d have to say there’s a very high quality level associated with these performers who make their respective livings there in the town. My conclusion: Branson has the highest number of singers per capita of any town on Earth! 😉

On the way down to Branson from St. Louis, we had wanted to stop at the Baker Creek Seed Store, near Mansfield, to pick up some heirloom tomato seeds. Well, they were closed when we first came through Mansfield (where the Wilder home stands), so after our John Denver show, we headed back up Northeast again to try to catch it. But darn it, we got there too late, again! However, we managed to eke out a good experience from the trek anyway. We checked out the Pioneer Village at Bakersville, and the friendly and not-so-friendly animals in residence. Check out the gallery for more images?

Amish horse and buggy traffic was heavy around Bakersville, and they have equal right-of-way to automobiles, so you have to be on the lookout at each dip and curve of the road:

In case you’re wondering about the Time-share “opportunity,” well, we managed to resist the salesman’s heavy pitch, even though he tried his level best to make it irresistible. Sigh… Wouldn’t want THAT job!

So we’ve left Branson now, went from there to Fayetteville, AR, and then on to Memphis, TN. Stay tuned?


2 Responses to “Branson, Missouri, and Bakersville Too!”

  1. fets said

    you don’t know me but Becky forwarded your blog. My friend and I crossed the US a few years ago and kept a blog which amused our family and friends. I see we enjoy the same weirdness and joy. Keep us the good photography and pursuit of the unusual. We hope to do more of the same soon. If you would like to see ours it is
    Keep on Truckin’

    • Thanks for your comments! Sounds like your experience parallels ours – It’s essential that your traveling companion be a real FRIEND, right? We were trying to figure out who “Becky” is who forwarded our link to you?

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