Day 3 – We have Arrived – Branson, MO!
What an awesome day!
We departed St. Louis at 8am this morning.
Paul picked a very scenic route so we could avoid the morning rush hour city traffic.
The Cracker Barrel General Store was the perfect place to spend our morning break.
By lunch time we were transiting around Branson to its West side on a beautiful new route surrounded by the Ozark Mountains. Its unbelievable the amount of money that has been poured into this tourist attraction over the years.
“Chateau on the Lake” also referred to as “The Castle On The Hill” is the only 4 Diamond property in Branson. Its our home for 3 nights. We are very fortunate to be staying at such an exceptional hotel. When we arrived at this luxurious place another Canadian group was “touring” the hotel but we are the only tour company that will be “staying” here during this time period. The passengers on that other coach could not believe that this is OUR home for 3 nights. Lucky for us!
We entered a Christmas decorated banquet room where we were served a bountiful 3 course meal. The soup was so delicious, as was the beef and southern red velvet cake.
There was a little bit of time to grab a few pictures in the Chateau soaring atrium which has been decked to the nines for Christmas before we departed to see our first Branson matinee show.
We were warmly welcomed by a wonderful friend of mine, Cindy who I have known for many years. As Cindy always reminds me the Branson family considers me to be part of their family. I’ve brought so many groups here over the years and my family has performed at this music destination many times. I’m blessed to know so many wonderful entertainers that have made Branson their home.
We were seated in the VIP section just a couple rows from the stage to see Nathan Carter who flew to Branson from Ireland for a 5 day run. Nathan typically performs in auditoriums with thousands of fans. We enjoyed an intimate setting – how lucky for us. His concert was just amazing – variety of Irish and Country Music with a very talented 6 piece band and special guests, a lovely lady has been a headliner with Celtic Women for many years – Daniel O’Donnells talented and funny accordion player for many years – and from Bancroft Ontario the very talented “Fitzgeralds” (they are hoping to perform at the Walters Theatre – I think that is a given – don’t miss them).
Nathans show was just exceptional. Earlier this year when I had a group in Ireland we saw Nathans pictures everywhere. I refer to him as the young version of Daniel O’Donnell. He is a superstar in Ireland and its well deserved.
I received a call when he was signed to perform in Branson but show times had not been determined. My incredible friend, Cindy offered to arrange a show time around my schedule so we wouldn’t miss Nathans Show! Thank you so much Cindy – my group was thrilled.
My passengers also had the privilege of a private meeting with Nathan Carter PLUS all the shows guest artists after the performance. We were asked to remain in our seats while the rest of the theatre patrons cleared out. I knew we were going to meet Nathan but didn’t realize everyone else was going to join him too – so lucky! All of the entertainers posed for a group photo which I purchased for all my passengers as a “Bradleys Surprise”. It will be a perfect reminder of the amazing performance that we saw.
Next time I visit Branson and a Nathan Carter Concert you want to make sure you are booked on that journey for sure!
We arrived for dinner VERY late due to our lengthy “meet and greet” but the restaurant management went out of their way to give us priority and seated us ahead of another group that arrived on time “ahead of us”. Their chicken and rib combo was delicious – the ribs meat was so tender it just fell off the bone.
There was a bit of time for some souvenir shopping before attending the evening concert I picked for my passengers – the Urban Cowboy Reunion – Johnny Lee and Mickey Gilley in Concert!
I can tell you my group was blown away with this amazing concert. My brother Darren has taken this Mickey Gilley on the road across Canada a number of times. Mickey Gilley’s girlfriend was anxious to meet Mom so she received a text to come back stage during intermission. They enjoyed a nice visit and Mickey surprisingly sang Happy Birthday for Mom on stage – I’m sure Darren had something to do with that. Mickey’s sound man was even wearing a “Darren Walters Productions” ball cap!
Johnny Lee is 72 years old – his voice and humor is top notch – what an amazing entertainer. He reminded of us of how many #1 hits he recorded as he sang them during his hour set. Sadly he is a battling Parkinson’s Disease but that ailment isn’t slowing him down – what a show!
Mickey Gilley is a true entertainer. What a legend. Soon to be 83 he has experienced so many tragedies over the years that its rightly so when he says its amazing that he is still here. When he steps on stage you can tell that is where he is most comfortable. He knows how to please a crowd. His voice is surprisingly as strong as ever but sadly his body is failing him. His band has been loyal to him for many years – they are truly legends too – all exceptional – I especially am fond of his 2 back up singers.
It was an honor to be in the crowd for this event. Once again we were seated in the VIP section just a couple rows from the stage.
Mickey came out at the end of the show for another “private” meet and greet. He shook hands with my passengers and answered their questions.
What an amazing day – how can I possibly top this one?! To be honest I’m not sure I can…..