Barbra Streisand

Barbra

 

A phrase that I heard quite a bit last night while attending the Barbra Streisand concert at T-Mobile Arena was, “This was on my bucket list.” I didn’t hear it once or twice, I heard it murmured numerous times throughout the night including while we were mingling in front of the arena taking pictures of the newly built venue. I had decided to surprise the Bestie with tickets for his birthday and I can honestly say that it was a birthday wish that was on his own personal bucket list.

As soon as the lights dimmed in the arena and the spotlight shown down on the 74 year-old Streisand, the audience roared for the superstar and gave her a standing ovation. The arena can hold up to 20,000 people for a concert event and every single one of those people were paying homage to a living legend that has risen to the level of an icon. She has billed the concert, “The Music…The Mem’ries…The Magic!” and she didn’t disappoint when the first song was “The Way We Were” from the #1 album of the same name. I’m pretty sure that that’s when the first tears of the night were shed from a majority of her fans. The first half of the concert was indeed a trip down memory lane as she belted out song after song and shared with the audience the story behind some of the songs.

The stage was simple with a grand piano, a couple of small tables, one or two chairs for her to lean against and her band in shadows. There were no elaborate sets, fancy costumes or magical stage lighting. There was simply Barbra standing there in the spotlight, talking to all of us as if we were sitting in her kitchen having coffee, and then singing a few songs that we all wanted to sing along with. It was an intimate setting and she pulled you in close. From her signature voice and Grammy award winning songs, to her political statements about Donald Trump that made me love her even more, Barbra Streisand comes off as authentic, funny, caring and genuinely nice human being. The fact that she sings like she does only adds to her celebrity persona.

After a short intermission, Barbra returned with a magician/mentalist, Lior Suchard. I looked around at my fellow audience members and could see the confusion on their faces that confirmed what I was feeling. Barbra is too big of a celebrity to need this kind of fluff. Mr. Suchard interacted with the audience and did a trick that probably was pretty amazing, but I, along with the other thousands of people were here to see the one and only Barbra Streisand. No one really wanted to see a mentalist no matter how good he might be, unless he had maybe caused Ms. Streisand to levitate high above the stage.

Thankfully, he only did the one trick and then we all had Barbra back. It was worth the wait. She showed video clips of the making of her latest album, “Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway” including scenes with Hugh Jackman and Melissa McCarthy. This album is set to be released later this month and includes one of my favorites, “Pure Imagination.” Throughout the show, Barbra was everything and more than what I expected. She’s a star of mega proportions and when she sang “People” as part of the encore, I had goosebumps from head to toe.

The Bestie remarked after the show that it is easily the best concert he’s ever seen. It was definitely the most memorable concert I’ve ever attended and I can also say I left a bigger fan than when I walked in. How could I not be? She’s Barbra Streisand!

 

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

There are certain habits, specific things that we do that make our lives feel more complete, more whole. For me, that includes live theatre and Broadway shows. I had forgotten what a Disney musical feels like, so happily, I filled in the void this past week and saw Disney’s Beauty and the Beast at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts.

This was my first time at the Smith Center and I wasn’t sure to expect. I knew it wouldn’t be as grand and stately as the Orpheum in Memphis, but figured, hey, this is Vegas. I was not disappointed. As we parked, the large neo art deco building loomed large and reminded me of something I would find in modern Cairo.

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The 17-story carillon tower that you can see in the picture houses 47 bells and I can only imagine what they must sound like, echoing across the Las Vegas valley. Once inside, we found classical neo art deco complete with marble floors and spiraling staircases. The show was in Reynolds Hall which is one of three theatres at the center. We were ushered into the theatre and it was magnificently understated. We were seated front row balcony and settled in for an evening of music, dancing and enchanted story-telling. We were not disappointed.

I had never seen the Broadway version of this classic Disney tale and I will admit to being a bit confused with the story-line for the first several minutes. It didn’t take long to put my expectations that this would follow the animated Disney classic to rest and I simply watched the show as if I didn’t know anything about the Beauty or the Beast. And, I have to say that by the end of the show, I liked this version so much better!

Brooke Quintana as Belle and Sam Hartley as the Beast shined in their performances and made the love story quite believable. Also complementing the two stars were Ryan N. Phillips as Lumiere, Samuel Shurtleff as Cogsworth, and Melissa Jones as Babette. Two other stand outs were Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek as the handsome, self-centered Gaston and Stephanie Gray as Mrs. Potts. Smith-Kotlarek brought comedic respite with his performance as well as making some of the women of the audience swoon every time he showed off his “big guns.” Ms. Gray was an absolute joy to watch and when she sang the title song, you know I had tears running down my face. Her voice was sweet, clear and caused goose-bumps to appear even way up in the balcony.

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If this show had been about nothing more than the great musical compositions, I would have liked it very much. But the fact that the storyline is so complex and human is of course, what elevated this performance into the category of top ten. We’re all a little different and we all have to learn how to love and be loved and this story had all of that and more.

I walked out into the warm Las Vegas air after the show and knew finally, that I was home. I’m buying season tickets which is no surprise, and I can only say that I feel whole once again since getting to experience one of life’s most valued treasures, live musical theatre.

 

 

 

ShowStoppers

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In the world of Broadway musicals, there’s a term to describe a song that stands out above the rest of the selections. A song or a performance that is so over the top that it’s known as a showstopper. Steve Wynn has brought a show to Las Vegas that is simply known as ShowStoppers because every song and every performance is a pinnacle of magical interpretation.

I had the pleasure of seeing this magnificent show on my last trip to Las Vegas and for those of you that read that first blog, you know how much I loved it, but I have to say, this time around, it was even better than I remembered. From the first sweet musical note to the final curtain and exit music, I was enthralled, enchanted and completely entertained. There is no other show that compares to this extravagant production that encompasses the best of the best. Both in musical selection and in the talented performers that do what they do so extraordinarily well.

When I first saw this show, I absolutely raved about the lead female cast members and I have to tell you that I’m in awe of the three gorgeous and talented women that grace the Encore theatre six nights a week. One of the leading ladies left the show recently and I knew that Kerry O’Malley was irreplaceable. I was convinced that no matter how good the new female lead was, she wouldn’t be able to touch the performance of Ms. O’Malley.

Well, I was wrong. Rachel Tyler is a beauty that hails from the United Kingdom and has a resume that includes national tours with Mamma Mia, Grease, Fame and The Rocky Horror Show. Ms. Tyler was every bit as good as her predecessor, while still bringing something new and vibrant to the stage. Her voice is unbelievably strong and her stage presence was so powerful that from her first song, she had touched my heart and brought my emotions right to the surface. By the last song, I had tears running down my face and goose bumps on my arms. She’s believable, she’s natural and above all else, she’s definitely a star.

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Joined by the two other female leads, Lindsay Roginski and Nicole Kaplan Fenton, she easily could fill the shoes of any great Broadway performer. The three of them together on one stage, makes this show worthy of the Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence, informally known as the Tony Award. I can’t say enough about these three stand out performers, but I will say that they make me wish I had just a smidgen of their talent.

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The biggest difference between this show and the last one I saw was how impressed I was this time by the male leads. Randal Keith, David Burnham and Andrew Ragone were at the top of their game with this particular performance and I was more impressed than ever with their vocal range, powerhouse voices and stellar performances. Randal Keith was born to perform and he easily has one of the best voices out there. David Burnham and Andrew Ragone bring a masculinity to stage that rounds out the sweetness of the ladies.

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Every song in this amazing show quickly becomes a favorite with hits from shows like, Cabaret, Chorus Line and Chicago. Not only was I mesmerized by the lead vocalists, but I was also blown away by the cast of fabulous dancers. All of them are extremely talented and lend so much to this production. There were three stand outs for not only their fancy footwork, but by their shining personalities. Natacha Bachour is a gorgeous creature that stood out in every thing she did. Stefan Raulston is the dance captain and with good reason. His smile, his easy moves and his connection with the audience makes him someone to watch. However, the dancer that caught my attention and made me want to know more about who she is and where she comes from is, Genise Ruidiaz. This young lady hails from Miami, Florida and throughout each and every performance, I couldn’t help but be fascinated by her beauty, her acting and her flawless dancing.

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Every performance and every song from ShowStoppers is simply the best. I would like to tell you about all my favorite moments, like the jailhouse scene from Chicago that has world class pizzazz with lovely leading lady, Lindsay Roginski. Then another favorite was Nicole Kaplan Fenton singing alongside David Burnham in Money Money or when she plays the adorable Lola in A Little Brains, A Little Talent. This petite, uber talented lady could easily be mistaken for Kristen Chenoweth except she brings her own perfectly suited personality to life when she performs each of her fantastic numbers. I would also like to tell you how magical and powerful the newest cast member, Rachel Tyler was when she sang, Don’t Rain On My Parade from Funny Girl. I thought I had seen a great show, I thought I had witnessed polished talent, I thought the show was as good as a show could be, until Ms. Tyler came out and nailed this classic number from Funny Girl. It doesn’t get better than that. Ms. Streisand should be jealous.

If you have never seen a Broadway musical, or if you have seen them all, you will still want to go see Steve Wynn’s ShowStoppers. It is the epitome of the greatest songs from the all-time best Broadway shows. Even if you don’t think you like Broadway, you will still be pleasantly surprised and leave the theatre feeling something you didn’t expect to feel. There is nothing like live musical theatre and with this show featuring a thirty-four piece orchestra conducted by Maestro Dave Loeb, you will be entertained in a way you’ve never been before.

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Jim Stafford and Brother Brother

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I had the pleasure of getting to see a legendary performer in Branson last week. Jim Stafford has his own theatre and has been performing in our little town for 25 years! I haven’t had the pleasure to interview the man that made such songs as, “Spiders and Snakes” and “Swamp Witch” famous, but I somehow feel like I already know him. I grew up watching his t.v. show and listening to his songs on the radio. He was one of the first entertainers that I remember that combined music and comedy. Before the show, I wondered how he was going to fill up two hours, but once the stage lights came on showing him sitting on the front of the stage with his acoustic guitar, I no longer had to wonder.

Jim Stafford has a gift for making you feel like he’s just an ordinary guy that happens to play a guitar pretty well and likes to tell jokes. His demeanor on stage was relaxed and professional while entertaining a sold-out audience. Once again, a favorite word of mine to describe most Branson performers is, humble. Jim definitely fit that bill. The entertainers in this town act like regular folk that just happen to have extraordinary talent. Jim dazzled everyone with his mastery of both the guitar and banjo. He also made us laugh with his off-beat, somewhat dry, sense of humor. No stunts, no over the top gags, just straight out music and funny stuff that made the evening very enjoyable.

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Jim Stafford has also done something unique and inspiring. He shares the stage with a couple of brothers who cleverly call themselves, Brother Brother. In a world concerned more with egos and money than the purity of art, it is rare that someone older and experienced gives encouragement to a newer generation on the same scale as Jim Stafford.

A few years ago there was a chance meeting between two teenaged boys and a veteran musician and performer. Before long, Jim Stafford started going to the small venues that these two brothers were playing across the state of Florida. He was gracious and interested but most of all, he saw something in these two young men that was definitely worth seeing. He saw that “it” quality. Not only can these two boys keep up with his picking on stage, but their very personalities shine with a light that isn’t often witnessed in today’s youth. These boys are the real deal and take notice of them now, because I predict within a short time, Brother Brother will be a household name.

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If you didn’t know the background story of who Bradley and Brett Anderson are and where they come from and what supportive, wonderful parents they have, you would think they were Jim Stafford’s sons. Not that they necessarily look like the famous entertainer, but when you see the three of them on stage together, there’s a bond that cannot be missed. There’s pride from Jim when they both can keep up with him and there’s simple adoration and gratefulness from the boys. There’s a quality to the performance when all three of them are playing that elevates each of their abilities to that really special place. They make magic happen!

I did have a chance to sit and talk with Bradley and Brett and their parents. I found Dwayne and Angelia Anderson to be the kind of people that you want to nominate for parents of the year. They are grounded, they are supportive of the boys’ dream and more than anything, they are involved in the best possible way. You can tell that the family is tight-knit and loving. Angelia laughingly told me that “I am not at all a stage-mother.” And, that’s the key. This family is doing this together and after copious amounts of prayer, they are in a really good place. I also had a chance to meet, “Grandma Grandma” and it was easy to see right away where this family gets it’s sense of values and determination.

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There are numerous shows that you can see while in Branson. But, if want to combine something familiar and something new, this show at the Jim Stafford theatre is a “must see.” You’ll sing along to the songs that Jim Stafford made famous and you’ll rejoice that there’s a couple of youngsters just starting out, that have such obvious talent and love for the art of music. The blending of the old with the new makes this show relevant and memorable all at the same time.

Branson Ducks

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I had the pleasure yesterday of acting like a tourist and riding the Branson Ducks. There are several of these tours throughout the country, but I can’t imagine any more beautiful than the one here in Branson. A “Duck” is an amphibious vehicle that travels on both land and in the water. My friend, John Fullerton, set this up for me and I can’t wait until I write the chapter in the book on this wonderful guy. Not only is he a historian, uber talented musician and devoted family man, he has also been associated with the Branson Ducks since he was a small child. Not only did I get to see the sights and ride in this unique attraction, but I was also privy to a history lesson on the origins of these trucks.

Yes, they are technically trucks. Originally designed in 1942 under the military auspices of Sparkman & Stephens and General Motors Corporation, they were used to transport troops and goods over land and water. The DUKW 2 1/2 ton, 6×6 was instrumental during World War II including during the Normandy Invasion in 1944. Maximum land speed is 50 m.p.h. and maximum water speed is 6 m.p.h. For land operation, the Ducks utilize six wheels powered by a six-cylinder valve-in-head engine. When in the water, the Ducks use a marine type propeller powered from the engine through the transmission and a water propeller transfer case.

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Something that you don’t see often in our world anymore is the repurposing and reutilization of items that are no longer needed in the capacity in which they were built or manufactured. The DUKWs were built solely for short term use by our military and served that purpose well. Thankfully, years after the war ended, these unique vehicles were refurbished and repurposed and became known as Ducks. There will be an entire chapter of the book devoted to the story of the Ducks made possible by the man that knows more about them than probably anyone else in history, John Fullerton.

Yesterday, however, was not about the history of these amphibious vehicles, it was about doing something fun and unique. So, I pulled down my shades, hung my “quacker” around my neck and grabbed the front row seat directly behind our driver and guide, Capt. Reno. We pulled out of the loading area and proceeded directly down Hwy. 76, which in Branson, is known as “The Strip.” We quickly turned off and took a more leisurely route which can be easily missed if you’re in town visiting. There are no windows in the Duck and it made for an incredibly fun ride through town with the wind blowing everyone’s hair. Made me feel a bit like a kid again and riding with all the windows down.

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The tour winds through the beautiful country-side before carrying us to the top of Baird Mountain. Not only is it a breathtaking view of Table Rock Lake all the way to the Arkansas line, but they also have a display on top of the  mountain honoring our military history. This is Branson and the tribute was touching and so appropriate. We are called the most patriotic city in America with good reason. Branson Ducks have created a salute to our armed forces that includes a hill-top display of the Stars and Stripes.

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Capt. Reno was engaging and knowledgeable while he drove the Duck and pointed out things of interest. He had some funny stories and some historical references that told us more about this area. He knew exactly where to stop to get the best pictures and he made sure to encourage us all to use our quackers when another Duck pulled to the top of the mountain. The two drivers had a comical exchange about the fastest way down the mountain that made most of us laugh and a few of us apprehensive about what route Capt. Reno would decide to take.

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The trip down the mountain was done by the usual road and not the short cut that was mentioned. We came to a tree with a fork and as we were slowly ambling along, the driver stopped and there to the side of the road, not twenty feet from where we were, was a young deer. It was awesome to see one of these beautiful creatures up close and in the wild. This is a protected wilderness area and thankfully, no hunting is allowed, so this little guy showed no fear as we all snapped his picture and oohed and aahed over him.

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Not long after descending down to the highway, we turned off where the Branson Belle is docked. Capt. Reno turned off the motor and seriously instructed us on how to use the life jackets in the unlikely event that we needed them. After a fairly quick demonstration, Capt. Reno started the Duck back up and then proceeded to drive through the trees. The launch leading down to the water is very narrow and until we were right upon it, it looked like we were just driving through the trees into the lake. The weird part was that even once I could see the launch, my stomach still flip-flopped a bit as I realized we were driving right into the lake. It was explained that because Table Rock Lake is at such a high level, that we had to enter very slowly as to not veer off and crash into one of the numerous submerged trees.

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Soon after we hit the water, Capt. Reno said it was his break time and asked for volunteers to pilot the craft. I was the first to raise my hand and quickly took my place at the helm. What a blast! We were not going fast, but the water was a little choppy which made for a quicker heartbeat. However, with the wheel in my hands and an explanation about how I was steering the propeller, I felt like a true maritime captain. At least for a couple of minutes.

The captain allowed some others to try their hand at piloting and though they were good, they hadn’t sliced through the clear lake water with the same enthusiasm as I had, so I really have to say I was the best honorary captain of the day. I even got a certificate proving that, once we got back to land.

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Back on dry land, Capt. Reno blasted the stereo with Willie Nelson’s, “On the Road Again.” Once again, just perfect. We gathered up speed and flew down the highway back into Branson with most of singing along to Willie.

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Once back in town, we drove the length of the strip and our guide told us about some of the theater’s and their history including the Baldknobber’s and The Presley’s. We quacked at passing Ducks and road workers before we finally pulled back into the station. What a great day in the Ozarks with picture perfect weather and views that just took my breath away. I might live to be 100, but one of my fondest memories will always be of driving my first Duck.

There are so many things for visitors to do and see while they are in town, but I doubt any of them will be as much fun as the Branson Ducks. So, next time you’re in town, stop in and take a couple hours out of your afternoon for a one of a kind sightseeing tour of Branson and Table Rock Lake. The Branson Ducks also has a station on the Branson Landing where they tour that end of town and splash into Lake Taneycomo. Don’t forget to get your own set of “duck lips” so that you too, can quack with the best of them.

The Magic of Rick Thomas

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Another long-term headliner from Las Vegas has decided to spend part of his year in Branson, Missouri. Rick Thomas brings his magic to Andy Williams’ Moon River Theatre for a limited time in the live entertainment capital of the world. The show is all the glitz and glamour that is reminiscent of sin city without much of the sin. Rick Thomas has titled the show, “Nothing Happens Until You Dream” and he creatively incorporates his magic into that theme.

Rick started his magic career when he was still a kid and by the time he was eighteen, he had his own show at the Disneyland Hotel. He comes from an entertainment family that excelled in ballroom dancing that lends a grace to the magician as he dazzles the imagination. He’s also a funny, personable man who included the audience during much of the show. He has that unique talent that combines over the top illusions, perfect timing and a little comedy thrown in to make us smile.

He is also joined on stage by his lead dancer, Tara. This lovely woman is from Zimbabwe and auditioned for Rick Thomas five years ago for his show in Las Vegas. Rick told us that more than fifty people showed up to audition, and each one was given thirty seconds to show what they could do. Well, apparently Tara fit the bill even though they would have to wait more than two weeks to have her in the show, until she could obtain her work visa. She is beautiful, graceful and has a stage presence that corresponds perfectly to the master magician.

Tara and Rick decided on June 28 of this year to take their relationship to the ultimate level by getting married in a private setting just south of here, in Arkansas. Sounds like they literally ran off and tied the knot and I, for one, love that impulsive need to live life to the fullest. So, not only is Rick acknowledged as one of the greatest magicians of our time, but now, he has Tara by his side in every way.

During the show, Rick also brought out his gorgeous Pyrenees dog, Thunder. In doing a little research I found out that the Thomas’ have another dog, Lightning, in addition to the one we met on stage. Rick’s show in Las Vegas was famous in large part because he included large cats in his act. On Saturday, Rick showed us video of his cats that were regal and majestic. He told us that he had raised more than twenty of the cats from the time they were cubs. You could tell that he has a genuine love for animals and that alone makes him an exemplary human. Especially when he explained to the audience that all his cats have retired and are living out their lives in a lush, green valley outside of Phoenix, Arizona. Yep, he’s a nice guy.

The illusions were well planned and executed perfectly. Of course, I don’t have a clue how he did any of it, but there were one or two acts that had me questioning that I just saw, what I saw. He also did a mentalist trick with members of the audience that delighted and astonished me. Rick does all of this with lots of interaction and with humbleness. He also does a military tribute and honors the men and women who have served our country.

So, to sum up: Great magic tricks, spooky illusions, a beautiful and graceful assistant, birds, a great big white dog and just a little comedy thrown in make this show fun, mysterious and entertaining. Branson is blessed to have this caliber of performer visit our town for a season. We can also thank the Osmonds who now run the Moon River theatre, for bringing such big names to town. I’m also thinking that if this trend continues, we might get a Cirque du Soleil show here, set to a Broadway adaptation of “Oklahoma.” Okay, I know that’s just wishful thinking, but hey, as Rick Thomas would attest, nothing happens until you dream.

Journey Branson

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There’s a little theatre here in town that isn’t that big. It doesn’t have balconies or a fancy lobby, but the sound that comes from this charming venue is some of the best you’ll hear in Branson. I had the opportunity to go see Journey Branson and I’m so glad I did. As soon as the band took the stage, and the first rock-n-roll beats filled the house, I found that little piece of my heart that had been missing. My love of head banging, hip swinging, bass-thumping music.

Jon Sousan is the mastermind that brings something different to Branson with his vision to take a store front and turn it into a little rock-n-roll tribute theatre. In addition to the Journey tribute, Jon also offers tribute shows to the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne and Creedence Clearwater Revival. After listening to the guys do an amazing job with the Journey songs, I know I will be back for the rest of the shows. Jon Sousan is not only the driving force behind bringing classic rock to Branson, he also produces the shows, manages the theatre and either sings vocals or plays in each of these great shows.

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Bucky Heard is the front man for the Journey tribute concert. I call it a concert rather than a show because that’s how Bucky referred to what they do. It’s a rock concert. And, it was the best rock concert I’ve ever attended. Yeah, I know that’s saying something, cause I’ve seen some of the best, but the difference is the intimate setting and the amazing talent that is on that little stage. While I loved Journey, I was never a big fan of Steve Perry. After hearing and seeing Bucky perform these memorable tunes, I decided that this local Branson musician should have been given the lead in the real Journey band.

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Bucky belted out all the famous songs with heart and soul that Steve Perry could only pretend to have. Bucky shared a piece of himself with every note he sang. I loved him in this show and was so impressed by his strong vocal ability that it made me want to hear him sing Carmen. While Journey is nothing like opera, I believe that the guy headlining this show could do some Pavarotti covers with as much style as he did the Journey songs. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s such a likable guy. Whether he’s on stage or talking a mile a minute to one of his fans at intermission, you just can’t help but to like this affable man.

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Joining Bucky on stage is one of the tightest bands I’ve ever heard. Tony Bones Irasson plays lead guitar and is quite possibly the best I’ve ever heard in this genre. He’s uber talented, feels the music and owns the guitar licks he puts down. He’s also one of the nicest, most humble guys I’ve ever met. I spoke with him during intermission and had to pry some facts from him concerning his background. He embarrassingly told me, “I just play the guitar.” Yep, it might be rock-n-roll, but this guy has the heart of a hillbilly for sure. There’s a reason guys like him come to Branson.

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Doug Clifford is the guy driving the beat on drums. I’ve always thought that drummers have to be the hardest working part of any band, considering the energy it takes to make the rhythm happen. Doug certainly gave it his all and did it in perfect sync with Bryan Lawson.

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Now, let me say one thing, when you think bass player for a hard-hitting rock band, a certain image comes to mind. Well, that image is really Bryan Lawson as he is the epitome of talent, long-hair, stage presence and looks. He looks like he eats and breathes Led Zepplin and Whitesnake tunes and has absorbed a little of Cliff Williams from the AC/DC band. He and lead singer, Bucky, are fun to watch on stage and you can tell that they have a real friendship off the stage.

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One last guy I have to talk about. Richard Kittleman, also known as The Maestro, is the keyboardist for this tribute show. Once again, Jon Sousan made a perfect choice when putting this act together, he chose this local, but legendary, musician. When not playing at the Branson Tribute Theatre, Richard plays in a number of local bands and also plays for the great Roy Clark. No wonder this show is that good.

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Branson is known for it’s hillbilly humor, back-woods humility and of course, country music. But there’s a little corner in town that offers up the most unique entertainment in Branson. You need to catch a couple of shows here and relive your high-school days with some old rock-n-roll. The shows are intimate enough to make you feel like you’re listening to your best friend’s “garage” band, but so high quality, that you find yourself thinking that you’ve traveled back in time and finally won that back-stage pass from the local radio station.

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As I was leaving the show that day, I was reminded of a farmer’s market that my mom used to go to early on Saturday mornings. We would get to the home-made stands and my mom would buy tomatoes, cucumbers and squash. There were any number of fruits and vegetables and being a kid, those kind of things didn’t really excite me. However, always up by the cash register were the real goodies. Not fruits or veggies, but cakes and pies and homemade apple butter. That was my favorite part of the whole day and even my mom couldn’t resist picking up something delicious to have as a treat after all those healthy foods.

Well, Branson is the farmer’s market and it’s one of the best in the world. We offer top quality produce that is organic and tasty. You can go to a country show, The Titanic Exhibit or one of the excellent magic shows that we have in town. You can taste country, and gospel and funny. All the fare in this town is blue ribbon awarded and the bounty is beyond belief. But, it’s heavenly to find something sweet, something a little decadent at the end of the shopping trip. This Journey tribute band and the guys in it were like finally getting to the cash register and finding the goodies. In my mind, they were the cupcakes.

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