BRANSON, Mo. —
Brandon Mabe said he’s been blessed.
“It’s pretty special,” said Brandon, who performs during the Baldknobbers Jamboree Christmas Show through Dec. 29. “Not many people get to lead our kind of life. It’s fast-paced, but at the same time, we get to be with our family and extended family. Many of them have been on stage longer than me and Denton have been alive.”
Brandon, co-frontman Denton, female vocalist Joy Bilyeu and more than a dozen other Mabe family members and longtime friends entertain thousands of theatergoers weekly. Not only do they play country music and share Ozarks comedy, they dig into stirring vocals, run theater operations, serve up popcorn, manage theater parking and produce what is commonly known as Branson’s first music show.
The 29-year-old, third-generation entertainer joked that he has done every job at the theater except run the sound.
“It’s incredibly neat to me, being out on stage with my cousins,” Brandon said. “So many of the regular folks that come to the show remember us as little rascals running around backstage and causing problems.”
The Baldknobbers were inducted into the Smithsonian Institute and recognized for their cultural contribution.
The show originally debuted in 1959 in a refurbished skating rink in downtown Branson. Brandon’s grandfather, Jim, and his brothers, Lyle, Bill and Bob, filled out the group. They began performing along the shores of Lake Taneycomo more than 50 years ago.
Visitors from across the country Ñ including many from the Joplin area Ñ trekked to the Branson lakes area to hunt, fish, camp and to catch a Mabe Brothers music show. The brothers eventually moved to a modern theater on Highway 76.
Today’s Baldknobbers Jamboree Show is a far cry from its early roots. The original Mabe brothers passed on their family traditions and talent to their children. In turn, following generations continue to pass on the clan’s commitment to family-friendly entertainment. A fourth generation of Mabe entertainers is in the making.
“Denton has a boy, Phoenix, and I have four children,” Brandon said. “My sister has two children. Garret, Denton’s brother, has a child, and there are a lot of the fourth generation coming up.”
“The first half of the holiday show features the best of 2012. The second half is devoted to an all-new Christmas show,” Brandon said. “We have comedy routines and a lot of fun, and also have the sacred side to express the true meaning of Christmas.”
Brandon thinks sticking close to tradition is key to the Baldknobbers’ success.
“The value of family, God and country is what my grandparents and great uncles started,” he said. “Branson is a family-oriented area. It’s grown with different shows and kinds of entertainers coming into town. If we stick with a good, down-home country feel and down-home fun, we’re good. “
He is quick to separate Branson from other vacation destinations.
“We’re not Vegas, and we’re not Broadway,” he said. “We’ve got good clean entertainment for the whole family to enjoy. I want people to remember that. If we stay true to our values that Branson started with and that we grew up in, and it leaves Branson with a good name, it will stay on the map.”
The third generation of Mabe family members enjoy sharing the stage together, Brandon said.
“We are best buds as well as cousins,” he said. “It’s really special. We have six family members on stage, out of a cast of 17. We’re pretty much Mabe family dominant.”
To make it into the show a Mabe still has to have talent.
“The No. 1 thing is that you have got to be able to entertain,” Brandon said. “You can be the best singer in the world, but if you can’t entertain, nobody wants to see you stand up there like a bump on a log. You’ve just got an amazing talent.”
To make it in Branson for more than 50 years takes talent, patience, hard work and the ability to have a little fun, Brandon said.
“It’s all about having fun and entertaining,” he said. “Entertaining is what it’s all about. That’s what gives the audience the experience and fun they get. Not just vocals and music and comedy. It’s the collaboration of all of them that makes it the entertaining show it is.”
BRANSON, Mo. —
Brandon Mabe said he’s been blessed.
Going Western: Indie film 'Wichita' to show tonight at MSSU
Nicholas Burton isn't exactly raising a cash cow on his livestock ranch. But the Wichita, Kan.-based filmmaker has an advantage over other film producers: Westerns are in high demand, and he's in the perfect spot to make them.
Love, labor liven up JHS musical 'Pajama Game'
The spring musical put on by the Joplin High School Theatre Department deals with a labor of love among a labor dispute.
MSSU choir, orchestra combines for performance of legendary 'Carmina Burana'
The free performance is a joint effort between the Southern Symphonic Chorus, which is composed of the MSSU Concert Chorale and volunteer singers, and the orchestra, which is made up of Missouri Southern students, faculty and professionals from the community.
Globe Phone Test: Nokia Lumia 1520's outstanding camera offset by frustrating OS
On Monday, news broke that flight attendants aboard Delta Airlines flights would receive Nokia Lumia 1520 devices in October. The devices will have flight manuals, support on-board sales, allow attendants to process credit card payments and crapcan heavy 500-page manuals they used have to bring.
The move is similar to how American Airlines attendants were give Galaxy Note phablets. Because Delta already gave attendants similar smartphones, it's reasonable to assume that the company places a lot of faith in the Windows Phone system.
But Delta's choice of device is puzzling because the 1520 is better suited to take photos and videos of people on board an airplane, not take their drink and meal orders. And because the device is so big, I'm not sure how flight attendants would feel carrying it around in a cramped flight.
As the iOS and Android systems struggle for the top smartphone operating system, Microsoft's Windows Phone has scratched its way into the No. 3 spot, pushing past BlackBerry. Nokia, once one of the top names in devices, is pairing with Microsoft to make a device that features an incredible camera. The company already made the Lumia 1020, which features a humongous 41-megapixel camera that does amazing things.
The Lumia 1520 is its biggest offering to date. The device, available exclusively from AT&T, is one of the biggest phablet-style phones on the market today. For about 10 days, I tested out a black-colored device provided by AT&T.
Jeremiah Tucker: Kurt Cobain likely would have thrived in today's music scene
I have no memory of the day he died. A friend asked me about this recently, and I said at that age -- I would've been 13 -- I was probably still rocking my cassingle of the Escape Club's "Wild Wild West." Needless to say, my middle school years were rough.
Benji Tunnell: 'Winter Soldier' sets a high bar for summer movie season
If a film was truly great, it would be held until June or July. Or so the thinking might have been before the release last week of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier."
Marta Churchwell: Joplin mural part of Benton's larger message
Recently, I received information on Joplin's celebration of one of its native sons, Thomas Hart Benton. In observance of the artist's 125th birthday, City Hall will host a collection of his works alongside his mural that honors Joplin history.
World Fest pairs well with Celebrate America
The Slinkerds think Silver Dollar City's World Fest is a great opportunity to show their young children other cultures and introduce them to people from around the world.
Ka-Pow! New attraction offers free-fall plunge
On May 17, two brave souls willing to whether mid-May¹s unpredictable weather will climb into the two drop-floor aqua-launch capsules atop KaPau Plummet.
Jeremiah Tucker: Letterman performance gives deserved boost to Future Islands
It's hard to believe an appearance on a late-night talk show can still make a band's career. It's such a common occurrence and the cultural currency of the late-night format has dropped so much in recent years that, short of literally setting the stage ablaze or stabbing the host, the most a band could hope for is a couple of polite blog notices.
- More Enjoy Headlines
- Going Western: Indie film 'Wichita' to show tonight at MSSU