On our two-day Ozark trip, we decided on short notice to go to Branson, Missouri and perhaps see a show. We'd never been before, and I still don't understand why this out of the way place caught on as an entertainment center. It might be that though it's remote, it's 150-200 from St. Louis, Kansas City, Little Rock, and Tulsa, among other larger cities.
We cut due east out of Tulsa to NW Arkansas, then cut up to SW Missouri and Branson. It was a very scenic drive off the freeway.
Shows start at 8:00 and we rolled in at about 6:50. We pulled into a "Welcome Center" that advertises discount tickets. We were rushed choosing something, and ended up going to the Hammer-Barber Theater. The show is Hamner - A Magician, and Jim Barber, a ventriloquist. They throw in a few dancer, add a little singing, and advertise it as a variety show.
Jim Barber is unique in that he has created a dummy that makes it appear that the dummy is holding him, and Jim is the ventriloquist dummy. I thought it was pretty clever. I saw him on Letterman a few years ago. He did a local commercial that is one minute long at this link:
If you'd like to see his Letterman appearance, heres' the link for that:
He was pretty funny.
We tried to find a local LDS church, but we didn't have Internet access and had a lousy out-of-scale tourist map of Branson, so we couldn't find the church. Since it was Sunday morning, and we wanted some kind of Sunday worship experience, we went to one of the 8-10 Sunday Morning Gospel programs offered for free at various Branson entertainment theaters. We ended up going to the Dick Clark Rock-N-Roll Theater which offered the "Grand Old Gospel Hour" as shown
on the billboard to the right. The woman holding her hands up was interpreting the music via American Sign Language.
They had three musicians, a drummer, bass player, and sax man, and five singers, one of which played the guitar, on played the keyboard, and the woman doing the signing. On each side of the stage was a video screen, on which they were showing the words, so I didn't really understand what the deal was with the ASL. Then, when one of the people would just speak, she didn't do anything. And she had a part in the program where they gave their pitch for donations, and she didn't sign that either. So I concluded that she wasn't actually an interpreter, but just like to memorize and perform the sign to the words of Gospel music. The pastor shown in the billboard is in real life a little heavier and his face is rounder, and he wore glasses. Reminded me of the Matt Foley character created by Chris Farley. He kind of looked like Chris Farley. He gave a good Christ-inspired message, and cited putting on the whole armor of god as explained in Ephesians Chapter 6. And not once did he have to admonish anyone to "close their yapper."
Branson is spread out, but has a two-lane main street which seems to be in a perpetual traffic jam. I tried to capture it in a picture. But envision the photo as being a video instead. Yup, that's how fast the traffic seemed to move. This was at 11:30. It was the same at 9:30 am, and at 7:00 when we drove through town. It's probably that way constantly, and twice as slow in the summer. Nothing says summer fun like 100 degrees, 98% humidity, and stationary traffic.
More posts about the Ozarks to follow.