A Week in Branson, Missouri: America’s Live Music Gem

 Photo: Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau

Photo: Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau

In the early hours of October 16th, my grandparents, their three teenage foster children, my brother, my mother, and myself all loaded into a van. I sat next to my grandfather, serving as the navigator while lazily knitting Christmas apparel. We had a 16 hour drive ahead of us to reach a place with dozens of theaters set and primed for live music; we were going to Branson, Missouri.

I had the amazing opportunity to attend three very different but wonderful musical shows. Initially, I wasn’t too excited seeing as my grandparents and I have very different music tastes, but there’s something magical about seeing artists experiencing true, unbridled passion, and physically feeling the music rattle your bones and penetrate your heart. And so, I kept an open mind and was pleasantly surprised.

The Haygoods

The Haygoods is a real life version of The Sound of Music. The seven members are siblings, all of which are men, except for Katherine, who has been described as a musical prodigy. She plays more instruments than all other members of the Haygoods, such as the drums, fiddle, harp, and saxophone. This concert began with energy and excitement.

I was quickly mesmerized by their stage presence and musical ability. They work well together, presumably due to their familial ties, and they play a large variety of music, from rock, to country, to polka. In between the songs, they would perform little monologues, tell jokes, or tell us about themselves.

All in all, the Haygoods, I believe, are true performers. They are amazing, hilarious musicians. I was engaged the entire time. After the show, I met the band and was pleasantly surprised by their warmth and friendliness. I even got pictures with Michael and Banjo Boy! I was entertained the entire time, and I highly recommend seeing this band live. The most memorable moment must have been when Michael came in, upside down on a wire, playing guitar.

Shoji Tabuchi and Christina Shoji-Tabuchi

One of the best violinists from Japan and his daughter go through different decades of music up to the present. Their privately owned theatre is absolutely amazing. Everything about it is glamourous; the men’s washroom even has lazy chairs and billiards, while the women’s has lounge chairs. They have a private band, complete with three backup singers.

Shoji plays with an old passion and a love for the music. The traditional Japanese music was a treat, and Christina’s voice is powerful and clear, but the band and the backup singers fall short. The true magic of this group lay within the father-daughter duo.

I also had the opportunity to meet Shoji, who was an absolute pleasure to be around! He sign my ticket, and took a picture with me. He was a genuinely warm and friendly person, asked where I was from, and told me about his history with Canada. The most memorable moment for me must be the traditional Japanese piece. Overall, the performance was music centric and with little dialogue between pieces. It was an interesting performance, but the entertainment factor was lacking for me.

Roundup on the Trail - Chuckwagon Dinner Theater

On our last day, we attended a dinner theater. They served authentic “cowboy” food, including a sourdough roll, brisket, turkey, red eye gravy, pinto beans, corn, potatoes, bread pudding, and sweet tea. This group featured a cowboy poet and an entire band of even more cowboys. It was an incredibly immersive event; nearly everyone wore boots and hats!

Roundup on the Trail featured mostly Western music, religious hymns, and very, very patriotic songs. Despite those not being my favourite genres, I really enjoyed listening to them. It was very well performed and the years and years of practice was evident. Their relaxed playing made it all look easy.

It was lovely to hear their southern drawls in harmony and their instruments being masterfully played. The poetry performed was funny and authentic, and we even got to hear and see how whips are cracked! The men on that stage seemed to not only play for themselves, but for our pleasure. I thoroughly enjoyed myself that night.

I went to Branson as a bit of a skeptic, but left an absolute believer. I didn’t know exactly how much I would enjoy it, but I’m so glad that I kept an open mind. I sincerely hope that I am able to return someday in order to go back to some of these concerts and attend new ones. I would recommend going to Branson if given the opportunity. It’s a great time and has something for everyone!