Silver Dollar City Hello all!! We just got back in from a great four day trip to one of my favorite places in the Country, Silver Dollar City, in Branson, MO. We worked there Memorial Day Weekend, Friday through Monday, at the Bluegrass and Bar-Be-Que Festival. This great event stretched from May 10th through June 3rd and was voted as the #1 Bluegrass Event of 2011 and is nominated for the same award this year. We did sixteen shows to large and appreciative audiences, (I have some great pics on my David Davis Facebook Page). I was told that the crowds for the Festival was larger than ever this year ! We usually get the opportunity to be there every couple of years and it’s always great to get to go back and visit with the SDC Family! Alot of old friends that we’ve known for years, D.A. Callaway, Butch Gregory, Larry Sledge, Rex Burdette and many more folks that we’ve seen there for as long as we’ve been performing there. So many of the Family have been at the City for many years. I don’t blame them, it would be a great place to homestead! If I’m not mistaken, Silver Dollar City started around 1959 or 1960, then around 1969 the “Beverly Hillbillies” television show came out and filmed four episodes in the City, giving SDC and it’s great artists and family a national TV exposure and viewers across the U.S. an opportunity to see and know about this great theme park.
We started our group in late 1984 and had our first opportunities to perform at SDC around 1985 or ’86. Back then, we and alot of the other groups would work nine or eleven straight days during their Bluegrass type festivals. We were just starting to travel a good bit by 1985 and those type trips doing four or five shows a day were really good at getting the band real tight. Back then, we would go to the City’s costume department and get us enough stage clothes to last us the stretch of days at SDC. They had a huge costume department and you could get any type western outfit you wanted to wear. We sported some FINE costumes, I have some pictures from those shows stacked back somewhere, if I can find them, I’ll put some up later. Cindy and were talking about that the other night, back when we first started dating in 1987, the first picture that I gave her was one of those SDC pictures that someone made of me in a western costume, I really want to find that one! White hat, wine vest, white shirt, black string tie and garters around the arms! WOW, WHAT A SIGHT ! Some great memories of those times, we would get us a big room at a Mom and Pop motel with a kitchenette that would sleep everybody and head to the grocery store down in Branson and load up with Hamburger Helper and feast cheap for a week ! If I started to mention everybody that was playing there back then, I’d surely leave out a bunch of musicians. But just about everybody of my generation that has stayed in the business and still performs today was knocking it out at The City back then. Plus every other generation, younger and older was there back then, too! I remember the first time I saw The Dillards was at the big Amphitheatre there, and sitting in with The House Band, The Horse Creek Band, singing “The Old, Old House” and thinking how great and tight they were. Meeting and becoming friends with Butch Gregory and Larry Sledge and “Arkie” Phillips from The Horse Creek Band. I’d knew of Larry Sledge from his days with James Monroe and Norman and Nancy Blake, his being on Bill Monroe’s recording of “Evening Prayer Blues” on the “Master of Bluegrass” album. They all were such kind, incouraging people to a young musician, just great people! Everytime I talk to D.A. Callaway, I’ll ask him about all the gang, how they’re doing, etc. I had the chance to visit with Butch and D.A. at length during our visit this year. Sadly I missed Larry Sledge, we were working different stages at the same time, but I know he’s doing well! Arkie Phillips worked as the bassman for Horse Creek for many, many years. He was one of the best I ever saw on that instrument. The last time we were at the City, prior to this trip, was about three years ago. Arkie was not in good health, but still performing and playing very well. He had lost his wife recently and with his own failing health, everyone was really concerned for him. Arkie passed away not too long after his wife. Him not being up there on stage with Horse Creek, I know has been hard on the band, he was a wonderful person and musician and will be greatly missed.
A few years ago, some of us decided to go down into Branson to the Andy Williams Theatre after we finished working at the City that particular day. We were lucky to get front row seats, my first time to see Andy Williams in person. Glen Campbell was guesting at the theatre for about a month, if I remember correctly, so we really had a special treat seeing him with a small, super tight and hot band. He did a tremendous set and then performed with Andy Williams for a finale. A memorable night of music. I’ve always loved Glen Campbell’s music, he and his band were super!
As I told you earlier, The “Bluegrass and Bar-Be-Que” festival at Silver Dollar City won the Bluegrass Event of the Year in 2011, I think it’ll be hard to beat it for the same award in 2012. If you haven’t had a chance to go out , you really should. I know you’ll be glad you did, nonstop entertainment, great rides for the kids, fun- family-styled atmosphere, great food ! It’s all there, waiting for you ! I’ll be looking forward to the next time and I know Marty, Robert, Stan and Ben will be too!