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.
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.
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.
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.