Thursday, July 10, 2008

Breakfast in America - Branson part 1

The Clown Prince of the Ozarks

In the late 90's my mother decided she had enough of Fort Madison. She was dating a guy that was in the construction field at the time and since most of the projects had dried up in the area, they decided to split for a place with more lucrative contracts - Springfield, IL. That relationship ended badly but my mom persevered. She found a job working for FedEx and met someone local. This gentleman worked in an auto lot selling giant pick up trucks and as a result of some business contacts, he was able to score part-time rental of a really sweet apartment in a vacation resort complex next to Silver Dollar City deep in the heart of nearby Branson.

Now, let me start off by saying most people's notion of Branson - that it's some sort of dumping ground for old, has-been country western and pop crooners - is largely correct. Andy Williams still makes his home there and Jim Stafford keeps plugging away, putting on a weekly show featuring his entire family. It's also home to hokey, family oriented sideshows like The Baldknobbers and "Somebody will probably watch this shit"-type stuff like Tony Roi's Elvis Experience. About the only thing that connects all the different types of shows are a) they appeal mostly to the elderly and b) they all cost a shitload of money.

This year, money was tight (mostly due to $4 gas) so we decided to be frugal during this year's vacation. We ate mostly groceries we brought with us, hung around the pool at the apartment and decided against another trip to Silver Dollar City (which costs upwards of $50 per day PER PERSON). Last year, we attended this cheap little breakfast show at this run-down little bar/restaurant which was put together in part by the resort we were staying at which featured a lot of the "B" talent in Branson and, although the actual breakfast part was terrible, the entertainment was hilarious. And as the improv troupe put on a painfully unfunny skit, I thought to myself "Next year, I'm bringing my fucking camera. Nobody will believe this shit"

And I did.

Thanks for coming, try the hash browns!

Well the location my have changed (the sketchy restaurant it was held in last year had closed so it was held in the lavish resort restaurant this year) and the food had improved (except for the OJ, which tasted foul), but I still saw a lot of familiar faces that morning. As far as I know the improv troupe had mercifully closed their doors (they actually convinced my sister and my mom to attend one of their shows, she said they were among the 12 or so other people to do so), but, God bless him, THE VOICE was still in the hizzay!

...down, down, down, down....

Last year, this guy was the star of the show. Starting with the ridiculously overblown introduction the MC gave him last year, John Tweed was in control of that room and never let go. Fuck Matt Berninger, listen to THESE chops:

You see the MC flashing his hand at the end of the clip? That means "Applaud you fucking ingrates! You think John Fucking Tweed does this shit just for the free breakfast buffet?"

Sadly, THE VOICE was not the main attraction at the club house that morning. Nay, that day was a special day, indeed, for appearing for the first time at the beautiful Stonebridge Resort was the one, the only, JIM OWEN!

"Seriously though folks, the Branson wax
museum is the most important attraction in town.
It's where they keep Andy Williams between shows!"
(actual joke told by Jim Owen)

What do you mean, who's Jim Owen? You mean you're in the same boat as everybody except three or four people in the crowd that morning who didn't know who he was when the MC asked? At first there were some rumblings that he was on Hee Haw, but that was Buck Owens. JIM Owen didn't appear on that particular show, but you may have heard of a song called Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man? Yeah, he wrote that. Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn thought it was pretty groovin' and took it to number one back in '73. Yeah, you're welcome.

So you may be asking what brought such a luminary as Jim Owen to a cheapo ticket hustle like this. Was there truly too much love in his Mississippi heart to pass up a chance to meet face to face with even a small crowd of country music lovers as assembled there on a hot June morning?

Close. He had an angle:

"Electric Youth! Feel the power..."

Yup, Jim had stopped by to pimp his niece to the 40-50 seniors and assorted tourists finishing up their pancakes. She popped off some little dancy pop number while Uncle Jim stood to the side gamely clapping his hands. But before they let us out to enjoy a fresh day of faux-hillbilly entertainment, it was time to give the people what they wanted: a sneak peak at some new Jim Owen material, sung by the man himself. I didn't catch the title of this song and I apologize for cutting off the first part of it. It was one of those "Wait, what the fuck did he just say?" kind of reactions and I had to scramble to get my camera out, but rest assured, once this baby hits the airwaves ain't nothing gonna hold it back. I like to call it "God's Angels Support Our Troops, Why Can't You?":

Stay tuned for Part II coming next week! Four words: Dolly. Parton. Dixie. Stampede.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There are some really great Branson shows to see!