By Brenda Meadows
When it became necessary to suspend theatre operations in Branson due to the coronavirus outbreak, Grand Country USA, 1945 W 76 Country Blvd in Branson, had performed and taped a few shows from its 2020 season. The show’s schedule is basically year-round. The order to limit any gathering to 50 or fewer people came from Governor Mike Parson’s Office on March 17. and Branson Shows closed their doors. The order was also restated by Branson’s Board of Aldermen.
There was nothing left for Grand Country Music Hall show to do but make the few 2020 taped shows available to fans and newcomers on radio and TV.
The show is taped in front of a live audience on Friday evenings and features Grand Country entertainers with comedian Jamie Haage as Jim Dandy and General Manager Mike Patrick as emcee. Haage and Patrick introduce “a rotating roster of talent,” which includes special guest stars, “from celebrities such as Mickey Gilley and Roy Clark to the up-and-coming stars of tomorrow,” Patrick said.
“We’ve continued producing our weekly Grand Country Rewind radio show. It airs on four different radio stations.” Patrick said “Unfortunately everything happened so quickly there was no time to do plan any new introductions to the taped shows.”
But there is a built-in base of fans that watch the reruns, rebroadcasts or anyway the shows are made available.
They are called ‘The Wild Bunch,’ with a total membership of 2,550.
“It’s fun watching past shows,” said Velva Cort, who founded the group on Facebook in 2014. “We are a Grand Country fan group who supports and promotes all shows, restaurants, etc in Branson. We write reviews and promote by word of mouth.”
Wild Bunch members are from the United States and various other countries Cort said.
“We also have members in Jamaica, Russia, Australia, China and Belize who, at one time, were tourists at a Grand Country Music Hall show,” Cort said.
Since a statewide “stay-at-home” order was put in place, the show’s cast is trying to keep busy with personal duties while waiting for an “all clear” date to restart its 2020 schedule. Patrick continues his general manager duties, as well as designs and finishes all the graphics for the Music Hall.
“So I’ve been working on design of brochures, billboards and updating our souvenir books for printing,” he said. “Branson Country USA will be rebroadcasts only. Live shows will return to the theatre when we’re permitted to reopen.”
Until then, fans can listen to earlier broadcasts on KRZK www.KRZK.com on Saturday nights at 7 p.m. or The Z: www.1029thez.com Sunday nights at 7 p.m. Visit www.1029thez.com to access the stream. The shows can be accessed online at: http://www.citylinktv.com/channel/grand-country-music-hall/.
“This week’s show (April 24) will feature Matt Gumm, from the Clay Cooper Country Express,” Patrick said. “This is a rebroadcast from February 7, 2020. The show will air on radio this weekend, and then air on television next weekend.”
Scheduled reboots for May also include Rhonda Vincent (Star of the Grand Ole Opry) on May 1, Doug Gabriel (Branson Famous Theatre) on May 8, Mary Lou Turner (Star of the Grand Ole Opry) with LuLu Roman (Star of Hee Haw). May 15 will be announced.
There is no doubt though. Branson Country USA will be back performing Friday nights at 10:30 p.m. January - December. For tickets and information, call Grand Country Music Hall, 417-335-2484.