Brandon Mabe Meghan McCombs of Branson Famous

The Bald Knobber Jamboree

With brandon Mabe

“I’m a third-generation Baldknobber,” shares Brandon Mabe of the Baldknobber Jamboree Show. “My grandfather started the show back in 1959 with his brothers. He was the original Droopy Drawers. My father is Droop Junior. I grew up in a houseful of comedians.”

Mabe, who performs nightly on the Baldknobber stage, presents a unique perspective having grown up in a Branson show dynasty. “You have to put an aspect of your life on stage and then have your family life on the side,” he notes.

“I loved the Baldknobbers even when it was not cool to love the Baldknobbers! I always dreamed of being on stage.

“My grandpa, the original Droopy Drawers, was the happy-go-lucky guy everybody was trying to push away [during the show]. He never really said much but just interacted. He was that light-hearted child in a grown man’s body on stage.

“He had a suitcase and inside that suitcase was a prop for every song that was played. One of my favorite memories was getting into his suitcase before the show. I would act him out before the show started. The fact is, I looked up to him so much because of that character he was on stage. Off-stage, he was still a man I idolized and looked up to and respected beyond words but when he said it, it was to be done.

“It was like he got to play his serious mode off-stage and then when he was on stage, it was like letting out every inner-child aspect he possibly had. He taught me everybody has to have time to let go of their life struggles and that was his way. He used the character Droopy Drawers for that.

“He taught me that during those two hours on stage you entertain the people in the audience and give them what they’ve paid to see. They don’t pay for your troubles. They pay to forget their troubles.”

An iconic show, The Baldknobbers were founded by the Mabe Brothers: Jim, Bill, Lyle and Bob. “They started down by the lakefront. As simple as it sounds, I think they just all talked and said, ‘We’re gonna start a show!’ They had always entertained as brothers, they sang quartet music a lot. People needed to do something at night after they were done fishing.”

The brothers were instrumental in developing what would become known as the Branson show formula.

“They knew they needed more than just music and that’s where the comedians came in. Jim, my grandfather, was Droopy Drawers. His brother Lyle played ‘George Aggernite.’ Put those aspects together and focus on country music, bluegrass-style music, combine it with gospel and it has laid the foundation for us all if you really think about it.”

Folks came by the droves and they still do. But beneath all the glittery lights and behind the heavy velvet curtains is a personal cost few in the audience truly realize.

“You have to put aside all your personal issues to be able to do the show. People don’t care about that. They paid for their tickets. They want to be entertained.

“My brother died in 2006, the year I came on stage. We had started the show in March. My cousin Denton’s [who also performs on stage] father Dennis died that April. He was our fellow entertainer, our mentor. We had to pull together. We had to learn the show must go on and it was tough. I did the show immediately after Dennis died. We canceled the show that night because he was so instrumental. But we came on the next night after one day to regroup.

“But two months later my brother passed away on a Sunday afternoon and we’re here doing the show on Monday night. My father, myself, all on stage with smiles on our faces entertaining the crowd and trying to make sure they don’t know what’s going on.

“'Cause our job is to take their worry away from them. Not to consume them with our worries. That’s when I really understood the cost of this job. I wouldn’t trade it for anything but there are very difficult times that we must face and again the show must go on.”

Sports came first for Brandon until he was a young adult. “I’ve never had a vocal lesson but when you grow up in a family of entertainers who get lessons your whole life. I’ve watched them fight through illnesses and I continue to learn for myself. But when you put yourself in front of all the people, you realize how vulnerable you are on that stage.

“Growing up, I loved sports and I was an athlete. My height may tell you differently but I was a pretty good basketball player and that’s how I got into Evangel University. I was always a little guy on the court but you know the saying, ‘Dynamite comes in small packages.’ I was a show-off. I could jump very high. I was the short guy on the team who could dunk behind my head at the 10-foot goal. I didn’t care if I was playing two minutes a game, at pre-game I’d be dunking the basketball and showing off.

“I remember on a basketball trip to Florida and I was singing and just messing around and one of my teammates came up and said, ‘Mabe! You missed your calling! You need to be a singer.’ I was like, ‘I dunno. The family hasn’t come calling yet.’ I was into school. I was into sports. And, quite frankly, if I was going to be an entertainer, I wanted to be the comedian! But in my senior year of college, I was approached to be a vocalist. I had great mentors. My mother also helped teach us what we have to have to be on stage.”

“But it is neat. As a third-generation Baldknobber, everybody remembers my grandfather. I feel what he and his brothers did was a tremendous accomplishment and it did help create Branson as we know it.

“We’re a family show. We pay tribute to the veterans every nght. We have a very strong gospel segment and of course we perform country music. Now we do a little bit newer style of country music that they did in 1959 but I don’t think you can become more Ozarks, more Branson, than what we put on our stage every night. It is who we are.”

December 13, 2014

plate 1. From left, Megan McCombs and Brandon Mabe.

Larry the Cable Guy & Droopy Drawers

plate 2. Top: Jim “Droopy Drawers” Mabe Left to Right: Bill Mabe, their mother Hazel Mabe, Lyle "George Aggernite" Mabe .

Brandon Mabe & The Baldknobbers

plate 3. “I always want to be seen as a person who is trying to do good for others. We try to help people forget their worries. It’s what we do every night on this stage.”

Brandon Mabe & The Baldknobbers

plate 4. “I love the Ozarks. [The Ozarks] express the same values my grandfather started his show on: Family, God, Country.”

Brandon Mabe & The Baldknobbers

plate 5. “Growing up, I loved sports and I was an athlete. My height may tell you differently but I was a pretty good basketball player and that’s how I got into Evangel University.”

Brandon Mabe & The Baldknobbers

plate 6. “A really happy memory was my second year on stage. I sang the song Watching You and would carry my son Broden on stage dressed like me. As the year went on, he would hold my hand, walk with me and by the end of the year he was running around while I was singing! It reminds me how much I looked up to my family. It comes full circle.”

Brandon Mabe & The Baldknobbers

plate 7. “I would actually get into [my grandfather’s] suitcase before every show and I would act him out before the show started. But the fact is I looked up to him so much because of the character he was on stage.”

Larry the Cable Guy & Droopy Drawers

plate 8. Droopy Drawers Junior shares his stage with Larry the Cable Guy.

Larry the Cable Guy & Droopy Drawers

plate 9. The Baldknobber Jamboree was honored by the Smithsonian in 2011.

Larry the Cable Guy & Droopy Drawers

plate 10. The Baldknobbers converted a skating rink on the Lake Taneycomo waterfront in downtown Branson.

Brandon Mabe & The Baldknobbers

plate 11. “I try to find moments and go out and have a good time with my kids. We might go to the park sometimes — just something to escape from the stresses we have.”

Brandon Mabe & The Baldknobbers

plate 12. “I am the emcee and one of the male vocalists. I have to deal with the comedians all night long. I’m supposed to be keeping them in line... which is impossible!”

Brandon Mabe & The Baldknobbers

plate 13. “We built the theater in 1968 and have adapted it a lot. This building means a lot to me,” says Mabe. “It’s right in the heart of Branson and I feel like that speaks for who we are and what we mean to this town. I am here literally more hours out of the day than I am at my own house.”

Plates 1-12, courtesy of Brandon Mabe & The Baldknobber Jamboree. Plate 13 by Joshua Heston, august 5, 2014.

dogwood petal Tamra Tinoco, Branson Missouri

Photo courtesy of Tamra Tinoco.

Tamra Tinoco, Entertainer, Singer, Ozarker

(Branson, MO) “I love to see the expressions of the people — to make them laugh and to cry. Performance is my emotional outlet,” says Tamra Tinoco, longtime artist and now producer of The Magnificent Seven Variety Show at Hamner’s Variety Theater. She co-produces with her husband Joe. Daughter Talya is also on stage.

“I came into town after college,” remembers Tinoco. “I’m just an Ozark girl through and through.” Her first stint in Branson proved successful and included performances with Cristy Lane, Ferlin Husky and Jim Stafford. A move to Nashville included the chance to perform on the Grand Ole Opry.

Returning to Branson brought the opportunity to create The Magnificent Seven Show. “[Producing a show] was a new experience. Of course as an entertainer, you always have ideas. But I guess I’m kinda good at it as it has turned out really well,” notes Tinoco, laughing.

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August 10, 2014

Jamie Haage, Jim Dandy

Photo courtesy of Velva Cort.

Jamie Haage Nominated

(Branson, MO) “I was shocked,” notes Haage, veteran Branson entertainer and lifelong Taney County resident. “And receiving male vocalist of the year nomination? I’m more proud of that than anything else because music is even more of who I am than comedy.”

Multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and comedian, Haage has performed as the orange-suited “Jim Dandy” for years and is a mainstay of the Grand Country Jubilee family. His career began while still in high school at The Collins Family Show in 1983, followed with The Wilkinson Brothers, The Plummer Family Show, then Silver Dollar City. “Yep, closed a lot of them down,” notes Haage, tongue-in-cheek.

“A lot of our comedy [Jamie Haage’s and Mike Patrick’s] overlaps so there is a lot in common but we have differences out on the edges that shape it into different things.”

“You hope for a good reaction. Performing can really take you away from where you are so that you’re not thinking about your problems — just like being an audience member. It’s almost two sides of the same coin.

“I’d really like [the audience] to realize how grateful I am they are there. It means more than just a show. It’s a major blessing to us.”

Off stage, Haage enjoys spending time on the lakes. “I’ve really developed a hobby of cooking, now, that I didn’t expect,” he furthers. “I just like to do normal stuff.” He is also owner of Haage Music Productions.

FOR contact information go to Links Page. For all news articles listed, visit the News Directory.

Luke Menard American Idol

Luke Menard at Grand Country. Photo courtesy of Velva Cort.

Luke Menard Joins New South

(Branson, MO) Luke Menard, originally of Crawfordsville, Indiana, made Branson headlines recently in his mid-season move to Grand Country Square, joining well-known quartet New South.

A tenor and long-time member of the a cappella group Chapter Six, Menard became a known as finalist on American Idol in 2008.

“American Idol was like being on a high for six months. I hate to use the word stardom because I don’t consider myself a star but you really feel like one during the show.

“People come up to you and know your name. ‘Luke, I saw you on TV. Great job! We’re pulling for you!’”

“I always thought choir was for nerds but I remember sitting in choir one day and we locked a four-part chord and I heard overtones and just got chills. I thought, ‘Man, if I can do that for the rest of my life? It was almost like what I was born for.

However, Menard and his wife Lara were hit with life-changing news immediately following Idol: A diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“I had some weird symptoms and thought it was a bad cold or stress from being on the show. I had only been at the hospital for an hour when the doctor said, ‘You’ll have to go through chemo and radiation.’

“It was an out-of-body experience when the doctor comes in and says, ‘We’ve found cancer.” I remember stopping him and saying, ‘I can’t even hear anything you are saying.’”

“It really feels like God gave me extra bonus time on my life. That’s how I feel every day when I wake up. Had I been diagnosed with this type of cancer 20 years ago there was no cure.

“I tried to have a positive Christian outlook when I first started but then I realized it is okay to be upset. It’s okay to be mad. I came to the point where I had to allow myself to have those feelings and not try to be a stand-up Christian the whole time. Looking back I am thankful I had that trial and thankful for that life-or-death experience. It really does change your whole perspective.”

Moving to Branson, Menard was asked to join Pierce Arrow in 2011. “Branson is refreshing. I grew up in a small town. When I lived in Chicago and Los Angeles, I missed walking around town and knowing people.”

On the recent move to Grand Country, “Everything I’ve experienced so far has been better than I expected. They are great, talented people and they are all in it together. In the quartet there’s not one peson who is trying to outshine the others.

“Not only mentally but vocally, I feel like New South is all about group and togetherness. When that comes together on stage, it can be powerful.”

October 5, 2014

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