"Music has charms to sooth a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak." That is the first line of a play, penned by William Congreve, in 1697. (Often incorrectly quoted using "hath" rather than "has” and "beast" in place of "breast.”) However, our subject here is live music, not 1697 theatre; but, the sentiment remains accurate, especially in Missouri.
We would be remiss to broach this subject without first mentioning Branson, billed as “The Live Music Show Capital of the World.” Branson dazzles you with thrilling live music shows of all genre and styles, morning, afternoon and night. (Not to mention variety shows, magic, acrobats, comedy, amazing pets, dinner shows, theme parks, golf, lakes and museums.)
It all started when two outstanding families began entertaining travelers in far southwest Missouri: in 1959, the Baldknobbers Jamboree Show began performing their unique style of entertainment along the downtown lakefront; in 1967, Presleys’ Country Jubilee stopped performing in caves and built a theatre on an isolated two-lane stretch of asphalt, thus becoming the original show on the Branson Strip. Both of these outstanding family-entertainment acts deliver everything from bluegrass to down-home country and gospel to today’s top hits, sprinkled liberally with roll-in-the-isles comedy. They are not to be missed.
But remember, this is Branson, where variety is the king (or queen, depending on how you look at it). Here are but five diverse examples out of hundreds:
- Buck Trent Country Music Show. Buck is a two-time CMA instrumentalist of the year, internationally renowned five-string banjo picker, inventor of the electric banjo and a humorist.
- Ayo starring Voices of Glory. Voices of Glory (featuring pop to jazz to gospel to soul) were in the top five on America's Got Talent. Ayo (Yoruba for Joy) was voted Branson’s Matinee Show of the Year for 2013.
- Absolutely Patsy! – A Tribute to Patsy Cline. Tracy Lynn DeMille has been nominated Female Vocalist, Tribute Artist and Entertainer of the Year in Branson. She doesn’t just sing Patsy’s songs ... she becomes Patsy.
- Doug Gabriel's No. 1 Hit Tribute Show. Doug’s show was voted Best Morning Show in Branson six years in a row; Doug is a seven-time winner of Branson's Male Vocalist of the Year.
- 3 Redneck Tenors. Finalists on America’s Got Talent (as the Texas Tenors), these guys present a unique approach to music as they mix NASCAR with Beethoven and Elvis with Puccini, plus loads of good laughs.
But wait! (No, we aren’t trying to sell you a cleans-all mop if you just pay extra shipping.) Branson is just a small area in the vast Show-Me State. Live music venues are abundant throughout our state. Here are some that might not be familiar to you.
- A restored vaudeville theater in downtown Columbia, The Blue Note has an ongoing schedule of known headliners in blues, jazz, reggae, alternative, country, rock and folk music.
- In the famous 18th Street and Vine Jazz District of Kansas City, visit The Blue Room, at the American Jazz Museum. A museum by day and a working jazz club by night, showcasing dynamic performances from the best local and national jazz talent, in an intimate setting.
- In the Ozark town of Steelville, Meramec Music Theatre showcases local talent and brings in some of America’s top-name headliners.
- Ernie Biggs Dueling Piano Bar is a Springfield hop spot, featuring talented pianists, other instrumentalists, singers and bands. Name any song from any decade and see if their piano players know it. (Other locations in KC and Branson.)
- The Duck Room is inside the Blueberry Hill Restaurant, on the Delmar Loop in St. Louis. Catch national touring bands and St. Louis groups; plus, once a month, Rock & Roll legend Chuck Berry performs (reservations advised).
- Take your instruments and join the fun at Ozark Mountain Jamboree, nine miles west of Mountain View. T After the regular show, which delivers Ozark music as it was meant to be played, including bluegrass, country and gospel, they hold an open-mike session.
- O’Malley’s Pub, in the quaint village of Weston, is in the 1840s cellars of the Weston Brewing Company. The live bands on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights are sure to please your listening and dancing spirit.
- At Cafe Acoustic in St. Joseph, hear top-notch talent ranging from folk singers to rock bands and an occasional comedian. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday brings something different.
- In Kansas City, BB's Lawnside Blues and BBQ offers a heaping order of world-class blues and jazz, along with slow-smoked meats and Louisiana dishes. Fill your soul with great music and your body with good food – two KC traditions that go well together.
And let’s not overlook Missouri’s wineries. More than 100 wineries are listed on VisitMO.com, most of which schedule live music; find one near you, grab a seat and enjoy the melody, the view and some top-quality Missouri wine. We have just, barely, scratched the surface here. In Missouri, we’ll call it The Hear-Me State, music of every variety is a short drive away. Find it and enjoy the show.