I had the distinct pleasure of attending the Trace Adkins concert at the Andy Williams' Moon River Theatre in Branson on July 5th. In fact, not only was it a pleasure, but a privilege to be there and watch this man perform. When I purchase a concert or show ticket, I expect to be totally entertained. I was not disappointed in the least. The show was great, and it really made me think about what Branson. and the possibilities that we have here.
Let me start by saying that Trace played to a packed house. Had there been more seats available, the theatre could have sold them, without a doubt. From the moment he took the stage until after the last encore, that room was electrified. The Moon River Theatre is a good-sized venue, but still intimate enough that performers can interact with their audience, and interact he did! He was warm, funny, personal, and totally tuned in to his audience. I would imagine that he is used to bigger venues and much rowdier crowds. He said that usually, he just gets loud, but in a theatre of that size, he really had to sing. And boy, did he ever sing. The sound was great, and you could hear every little nuance in his voice.
That big baritone voice kept everyone enthralled, and Trace played equally to both sides of the stage. No just standing in one spot for this guy. I anticiapated the moments when he would dance a little towards one side of the stage or the other. I would be lying by ommission if I didn't mention the fact that Trace Adkins is a tall, rough 'n' ready, sexy country boy that the ladies can't get enough of. Yep, me included. Those blue eyes and sweet crooked grin are the stuff dreams are made of. <sigh> But I digress. He definitely puts on a good show, and sings all of his hits. When he sang ballads, you could have heard a pin drop in the theatre. He had the audience in the palm of his hand the entire night. I took my mother with me to the show, and while she recognized most of the songs, she hadn't previoiusly known who sang them. She does now! Momma has a new man crush, and I for one, think she has impeccable taste. In fact, I bought her a Trace Adkins CD yesterday as a remembrance of the great time we had at the concert. I saw teenagers all the way up to seniors in the audience, and they all equally enjoyed Trace's performance. Yes, a few shouted professions of love from various audience members were heard, and who can blame them? What's not to love? The man is a great performer, and that is what this town needs.
With that being said.....Branson, theatre managers and owners take note! The Moon River Theatre has got the right idea - you don't need to re-invent the wheel that they have started rolling by hosting the Up Close Concert series. Remember what I said earlier? The house was packed, and they could have sold more. Much more. I got to the theatre an hour before the concert, and still had to park up by the Grand Palace. I looked at all of the license plates on the way in, and on the way out. While many were from Missouri, there were plenty of Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, Iowa, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Arkansas tags with a few California and Michigan tags thrown in for good measure. This means not only rear ends in seats, but those people most likely stayed in town somewhere. They ate somewhere. They may have shopped somewhere. They bought gas somewhere. It's good for the city. Do you have times when your theatre is normally dark, and no income is rolling in? Look around the town - is the traffic slow? Then do something about it. Start thinking progressively, and consider bringing in a big name(s) to your venue. Keep it fresh! The Oak Ridge Boys Theatre is another venue that understands the concept. They have a great concert line-up this year.
If you want Branson to look like the early 90's, then we have to bring back some of that thinking. The Grand Palace packed 'em in weekly with different shows each week. Big name shows just like Trace Adkins. Bring in current artists who have a following. Give people a new reason to travel to Branson. Put some spending change back in your pockets. Don't get me wrong. We have some quality shows in this town, but some people will not go to see a show again after the first time. That's why I suggest that we keep giving the folks new reasons to come back to town.
I am hoping that Trace Adkins, and other current big name artists, will return and perform in Branson. Would I pay to see his show again? You betcha, at twice the price! And I'll bet I'm not the only one. I suspect Mom will be at the front of the ticket line.