You have to start somewhere. This podcast is an entertaining look at how these three influential Branson Show Stars and Producers landed in this crazy town called Branson, MO. Matthew Boyce stars in multiple shows in Branson, CJ Newsom is a long time entertainer celebrating a decade of running her own show, and Chris Newsom is the General Manager of the Americana Theatre.
You can purchase tickets to their Branson shows at: AmericanaTheatreBranson.com
Matthew Boyce 0:12
Hi, I'm Matthew Boyce.
C.J. Newsom 0:13
I'm CJ Newsom.
Chris Newsom 0:15
And I'm Chris Newsom. And welcome to Branson's best shows, podcasts, a brand new podcast that the three of us are bringing to you about the great shows that are here in Branson. But beyond that, in the following weeks, we're gonna bring you some great stars and interview them and tell you about their lives. It'll be a lot of fun. Yeah,
C.J. Newsom 0:33
we have a lot of great friends here in Branson, and they love to share all their experiences with you guys. So we're looking forward to doing that
Matthew Boyce 0:39
put a lot together, we're really excited to share this with you guys. So many great things lined up. And I'm really excited personally about where we're really going to take this get down to the stuff you guys want to know, I know everyone does TV interviews and radio interviews. But we want to make this a little more personal, a little more different, and see a different side of these performers. Because, you know, we, we've known these guys for so long that we're all kind of like family out here. So we can get a little bit more of the deeper stuff. So we're really excited to bring you some really cool content.
Chris Newsom 1:05
And that's the wonderful thing about Branson is the entertainers do get along really, really well. And that makes us like you said, friends, so we get to bring them to you every week. Now, before we get to those people in the following weeks. We're gonna let let you know a little bit about ourselves so you can know where we're from what we're doing, and why don't we start with you, Matthew, you're the newest one to Branson. When When did you move here.
Matthew Boyce 1:30
So the day town got shut down from COVID I parked my car in Branson, Missouri,
Chris Newsom 1:36
that's a rough day to be showing up. Well, you know, it's gotten even
Matthew Boyce 1:39
better, like a little bit before then. So I had a really quick story about coming to town because unlike a lot of other people I had never really heard of Branson before. So I was doing some road gigs. And I had friends in the area that were working together on a show and we were doing a road day a little bit outside of Branson in a city called Columbia at a casino. And we were doing the show and I was staying with a friend here in Branson, and we I just fell in love with Branson and the people and the food and Hertz doughnuts and things like that. And it was really quick decision I decided this is kind of where I wanted to end up for a bit and we cold called so many different venues and theaters and put together a show very quickly and I was in Branson two weeks after I signed a contract. And that's just happened to be when town shut down. So, so perfect timing perfect. Timing was really good timing. And I had some great reassurance from an awesome general manager at the Americana theater. I wouldn't know who that would be that was like oh yeah, town's not gonna shut down. It did. So we we had some fun though. It gave me a chance to get to know everyone in the theater and the musicians and the staff and I got to a side job and I was renovating trailers for a bit just to make the make the bills pay for a bit and but we had a fun we were actually the first show to open in Branson post COVID Is that was really cool. And it was great to see Christmas season with the new stations because being one of the first theaters and brands to open up post pandemic there were a lot of regulations at the time and with temperature checks and masks and desist distancing and all that crazy.
Chris Newsom 3:13
It was an exciting time, I can tell you that it
Matthew Boyce 3:14
was different. And because no one really knew even I'm from New York. So we had a lot of crazy things happen with with theaters in New York but man it's just you never I've never seen anything like the distancing and the people coming still wanting to support live music because tourism didn't completely stop. There was it was different to see brands because I had never seen it like it is now I've never seen it busy. I've never seen the roads congested until this year really this busy. And last year was a little bit busier. But man the first year I was here I was like man this. I had no idea. You know what the real capacity of Branson was?
Chris Newsom 3:48
And how great the visitors are. We love you guys coming to visit us now. Yeah, you started when you were really small, didn't
Matthew Boyce 3:55
you? Yeah, I I was always been a fan of Elvis. And as a kid, I was listening to it constantly. My grandmother and aunt were really big fans and my parents worked full time jobs. So I ended up at Grandma's house a lot of the time. So listening to the music and watching the TV and wanting to watch Blue Hawaii in his concerts was it was a flashy thing for me. I every other kid had like GI Joes and stuff and I had Elvis dolls. And it was just, it was different. And, you know, my dress up time was jumpsuits and I had little, you know, I want to jumpsuits and I clipped little things onto my shirts and jackets because I thought it looked like Elvis and I just always kind of wanted to be what I thought was with my superhero, I guess and I wasn't
Chris Newsom 4:36
long before you started winning awards, as I mean it's it was just started that really quickly. I mean, you'd not only wanted to be Elvis or an impersonator of Elvis, you were good at it too, which is amazing.
Matthew Boyce 4:49
I mean, I was kid and it was cute for a while, but then I got to an age where I was like, Okay, I can't be cute anymore. I was writing the cute factor and I for a while didn't really know what I wanted to do. And I did theater a lot Being in New York theater was very accessible. Sure, and I could do a lot of performing spotlight was easily found. So I could, I did about 5060 shows theatrically Broadway style and then developed my own music for a bit went to school for music, business and audio technology and songwriting. And I really didn't know what I wanted to do for a while. And that's when I decided to pedal the metal with Elvis. And that was when I was about 1617, I got my first touring gig while professionally doing it. And then before that, I had already racked up a few accolades. And then throughout college teachers started to hate me because I wanted to travel and do gigs and what I was learning in class I was already out doing. So that's why I decided to kind of ditch the books. And that's when I decided to move to Branson. And I've had a lot more real world experience out here. Compared to school, I've learned so much more from, you know, these folks sitting next to me and other performers in town and other theaters, other musicians, I've learned so much has been thrown into it. And instead of having to read my books, and I think everyone has a different learning style, but I'm very hands on. So for me, this felt like one big internship, a paid internship, but
Chris Newsom 6:05
it was really well, sometimes, sometimes, sometimes once
Matthew Boyce 6:09
a year I get, but they have a nice cage for me upstairs, so it works out. But it's been great. I can't even you know, begin to think what I'd be doing right now if it wasn't in Branson, because when pandemic it was just,
Chris Newsom 6:21
oh, it was crazy. What does your family think about what you're doing? I mean, because that's a, that's a big change. I mean, you know, sometimes dads want you to go follow whatever they were doing what they want you to be, whatever, what did they
Matthew Boyce 6:33
do for a while, you know, my my parents, when I wanted to go into performing full time it was there was support, there was support, it was always a matter of how I was going to make money because yes, doing road gigs. You do big ones every once in a while you get a nice paycheck. But that's great. And being Elvis, there's everyone does Elvis, there's so many guys can competition. So it was always like, I was making money one month, and then I'd be off for three months. And I'd have like three or four really great gigs in a row. So it was always like very sporadic, and I'd have to make that money stretch. And I was doing a lot of part time things. And of course, I didn't want to be working on a restaurant my whole time. I'm trying to make this entertainment thing work. So Branson looked to me like it was going to solve all my problems, I can be performing full time, if I was, if I needed more money, I could work in a restaurant, I could surf, I could sit in surf I could still perform while I'm serving. And, you know, I could figure out ways to make it work. So what when I first said I was moved to Branson, they of course helped me with the push. And I mean, judging by how quick I got out here, it was, there was some flavor, a lot of support. Yeah, but for the first few months when town was shut down, it was definitely hard for a bit and I think unemployment and then for helping me and my parents being supportive and believing in that because it was definitely a rough three, four months before we really got full throttle people coming to town. And even once the shows were full open, we were still hitting low crowds all around just because we didn't know what tourism was gonna be like for a while and we wanted to see how it went. And we wanted to test the waters, we were kind of glad we had smartcash Because we did theatres Did you know fail at some things, we didn't know what destiny thing was going to do. We didn't know people were going to react and tourists did react differently than we thought sometimes and people mind to this whole thing they didn't mind. So it was a lot of trial and error in this first year of seeing how we were going to do this. We didn't know how long the masks gonna last. And so I think, you know, the first year was really great. And they were very open to me staying out and seeing how it was gonna go. Let me lose my money for a bit. You know, try it because I mean, it worked out. I think we all thought it would have been a great time for people now that it's full on. You know, they're so thrilled they come down a couple times a year and I was
Chris Newsom 8:40
about to say that. Didn't your dad not really know what Branson was going to be like? Because yeah, from what he was telling me the little bit I talked to him about this was he expected something completely different than when he came and saw what this is like so both
Matthew Boyce 8:54
my parents are business my mom's financials and my dad ran restaurants so from business aspects they look at everything financially first off just with a with a good business sense and I say okay, well you know well if we have a brand new show and numbers are this me this many people here today and money looks like this and like well how does that how does that work? How do you how do you find people how do they show up? Where do you do this? How do you then it's like you know they finally come to you have to see it to believe it sometimes because a theater isn't just people sitting down and watching a show. A theater is people coming into the theater watching the show, buying a drink buying popcorn buying the merchandise buying through the gift shop telling their friends about the show, then their friends come back and see it they tell their ticket sellers about it. They post on TripAdvisor and Google and Facebook about the show. It's like a ribbon effect and it just keeps going and going and going and going and going. So I once they saw it, you really had to see it because there's nothing like it. You know, we don't really have a tourist destination like Branson and Atlantic cities close by but it's it nothing close to the LANSON is
Chris Newsom 9:55
a special place. Yeah, I feel blessed to be able to work in Oh, gosh, yeah performing and help performers make their dreams come true and entertain audiences. It's great.
Matthew Boyce 10:07
And it's so weird because I had such a weird niche. I didn't know what I want to do. I mean, Elvis. And then at one point, I wanted to do Elvis, I wanted to do theater, I wanted to be a magician, I wanted to do ventriloquism, I wanted to do this, I want to do all these other things. I wanted to be Elton John, when I play piano, I play drums and then I come to Branson and Chris goes, alright, cool. Well, you can be a performer you can do sound, I have a magic shop, you can play drums, you're like, wow, you're never gonna believe it. Like it just all kind of, you know, all fell right into it. And it's quick. But man, it's I've gotten to play around with every single field I've thought about ever wanted to pursue here in Branson, whether I liked it or not, I got to try it. And I got to do it and see, and this isn't for me or you. I really liked this. And I found great things like, I would have never thought I wanted to, you know, play drums full time. I love playing drums. I love doing that. And I did it for sessions in college and for friends for bands and fillings, but it was never like, oh, I want to play drums. And then, you know, it's been a really cool thing to not have to sing for a bit and just back people up because that's the band is part of the show. Yes. And it's really cool to explore all different parts and the backstage stuff and stage managing and sound and lights and learning the tech aspects of a theater. There's so many things that folks if you knew how many hours went into programming, lights and music and videos together for a Branson show it'd be you're talking hundreds of hours just to open a brand new show. So just learning that from the ground up. It
Chris Newsom 11:36
just doesn't happen. Now speaking of we've sort of culminated to you're in a bunch of our shows here at the Americana Theater, which by the way, we're filming here at the beautiful Americana theater in the heart of the strip of Branson, Missouri. You have your very own show that you helped develop. Yes. Why don't you tell us a little bit about that?
Matthew Boyce 11:58
Yes. So Elvis story of a king's a brand new show to Branson. And it's unlike any Elvis Tribute show. It's really hit the Branson strip before. There has been so many Elvis shows in town. And if you've been coming to Branson for years, you'll know a lot of the familiar faces familiar names, sounds, songs. Elvis is no stranger to the Branson strip. So we knew when bringing another Elvis show to town, we had to do something very different because a concert is it's done. It's been seen everyone's you know doing these replications of Elvis and we wanted to do something very new, exciting, different. We have so many talented musicians, singers, dancers, actors. And we have some great utilities here at this theater with videos and lighting and I think an in house family really that wanted to come together and put this story you know onstage on his on his legs. So we took the story of Elvis and basically told it like a movie live on stage in front of you we have before the movie came in for the movie came out. We we put this together before the movie came out. And we told the show through the lens of Elvis, his mother, looking down on all of his crowning achievements. Now, Elmo was the mother did pass away early on in the movie, you know the story. You know, this story is really told from the people looking down on everything, saying how proud she is. It's a really cool concept. And we start all the way in his humble roots and gospel in Memphis in the churches and the revival tents in Tupelo and the songs he was raised on and go into his TV appearances recreate Louisiana hayride, and Ed Sullivan. And we go through his time in the army and some of his biggest movies Blue Hawaii, Viva Las Vegas and, man, we cover the 68 comeback special with the black leather in his Las Vegas residency when he debuted his jumpsuit look with songs like, you know, suspicious minds in the ghetto that were released in 1969 1970. And what I think is one of his biggest crowning achievements was Aloha from Hawaii in 1973. Because that had such a big reach bigger than the moon landing. Billions of people watched this show, and was really a capstone on his career. I think it was one of the biggest things he did and the record sold him the show is still watched this day is one of the most iconic pictures of Elvis as Elvis with the white eagle jumpsuit and
Chris Newsom 14:20
just perfect hair. And when we do live on stage,
Matthew Boyce 14:23
we do live on stage we do all of it live here in France. These aren't videos this is really happening with singers and dancers to help flow the story. Vintage instruments microphones it's one of the most authentic productions in the world right now in that regard. And there's not many other shows that touch everything else. And I might be wrong on this. But look right now looking at everything that's going on with Elvis. I don't think there's any other show open right now. In a in a place like this where it's long on running on the road, anywhere you know, this is with a live band dancers, singers telling the full story. This is a once in a lifetime show. You can come out and see and we're here three days a week, all year long and Branson, we would love to have you guys come on show, it's something so different and new to the Branson strip. And I'm so blessed to have been, you know, getting some great reviews on TripAdvisor for it and we love that people are liking this new socks we didn't know I was gonna do with.
Chris Newsom 15:14
I gotta say, your voice is so good. Thank you, you really do have that rich, deep, low voice You
Matthew Boyce 15:23
should sing live. Let me tell you Oh, don't
Chris Newsom 15:25
say that. But ya know, it's it is amazing, your moves are great, you really have a great look to you. So, you know, we're real pleased to have have you here and helping host this podcast and doing all the things you do here. And that's the nice thing about Branson, and this at least the Americana theater what they're letting us do here. And what we're doing here is pretty neat. Yes, absolutely.
Matthew Boyce 15:48
Now I'm really interested because I've been here for quite a few years. But I've never really gotten into like the nitty gritty of how CJ has really gotten here. And she has her own show in this theater as well. But I know this the Americana theater isn't your first venture in Branson. I know you've been your local. You've been here for a while you knew the scene. But what really made you want to have your own Branson show. What did you see? What did you do? What was your inspiration to do something like this? Because it's just like, I mean, for me, you know, I didn't know anything about it. But you grew up around it. So I don't know. Did you think like, was Branson always like an attraction for you as a kid? Was it a big thing? Like,
C.J. Newsom 16:25
yeah, I mean, wow, wow, what I learned? It's
Matthew Boyce 16:28
a big question. I just, let's sort of start with start with like, I'll start with so Branson to you when you were growing up, did you look up to it?
C.J. Newsom 16:35
I shared it. From the time I was three years old. I fell in love with music. I was I was constantly singing to the radio. And I knew, um, you know how you ask most kids, they go, you know, what do you want to be when you grow up? All I knew was a singer. I feel like I was sort of in in your position of this is what I love to do. How am I going to use it. But I grew up not far from here, about 20 miles east of Springfield is about about an hour from here, a little place called Rogersville. And we always spend our summers and our weekends in Branson, it was always just a very special time. Like I said, I started singing from an early age. And in fact, I sang in Branson at an early age, I entertained a lot over at a resort. Treasure Lake. Yeah, just, well, a multitude of things actually just you know, a lot of people. As you get to know the people here in Branson, they invite you to different events and just things start happening.
Matthew Boyce 17:37
You're really young trying to audition for shows here in town, right, like,
C.J. Newsom 17:41
Well, yeah, that well, that came a little bit later. I started auditioning when I was about 15 or so that's still that's still pretty young,
Chris Newsom 17:50
though. Don't get it like you get a audition and a call when you were a little younger than that.
C.J. Newsom 17:56
Yes. Wow. Okay.
Chris Newsom 18:01
Folks, we're giving you the details that she obviously wanted to skip over. No, no, no, we're gonna make sure you get the full story.
C.J. Newsom 18:08
I'm glad you asked. Because this is not this is not a memory that I would want to skip over this is actually a really a dear memory to me. You know, because a lot of brands in history I just I fell in love with a lot of the entertainers here. And one of my other favorite shows was country tonight takes you back along a long ways. It's now the RFD theater. Many entertainers have entertained there throughout the years, but years ago, I believe I was 12 Possibly 13. It was my first audition I forgot about that. And I made it. Now at the time. We weren't living in Branson. I made the audition. And this was back in the 90s. Branson was, was a wild town back then. Because at the time country tonight was doing two shows a day, six days a week. And I think I mentioned my age, I was 13 at the time and my parents, they they thought that was too much work for a young had to do aside from the fact that we hadn't even moved to Branson yet. We moved to Branson when I was 16. And I moved I auditioned a few shows I auditioned at Silver Dollar City and the Lord had other plans for me. I thought I wanted to be out there and and be in the saloon. Oh, you
Chris Newsom 19:41
you would have been a nice little girl I would have been too but I didn't get in somehow didn't want you to be a
Matthew Boyce 19:48
little bit heavier and just well the
C.J. Newsom 19:50
bar you know No, no, but I I got to perform some at the Jim Stafford theater on Sundays. I'm sorry. Excellent. Yeah. And I performed, actually for several years over the IMAX with James Garrett over at the tribute to John Denver. And I was playing the role of Miss Olivia Newton John.
Chris Newsom 20:18
Oh. Which is, you know, have you heard the sad news? I actually did. Yeah, she passed away. It's sad to hear sad here anyway. Man,
C.J. Newsom 20:29
I perform in here show for seven years I I've been close friends with with James. And he asked me to be a part of his brand new show. And so I was excited to do that as well. And then not long after that, while I'm trying to get all the all the events in order. It's been it's been a nice run here in Branson. Because we we came to just to tell a story on you. And I'm Oh, we came you?
Chris Newsom 20:54
And this is why I don't think anyway.
C.J. Newsom 20:58
We, we came to this theater, back when the Haygoods were performing at the Americana theater. Yep. And this was how many years
Chris Newsom 21:06
ago? More than I can remember. And if you asked me on the spot, I can't. But if you would have asked me before, I could have calculated it out and looked like a brilliant person.
Matthew Boyce 21:16
And knowing the answer probably long enough that if you asked me what year it was, I would have been in grade school.
Chris Newsom 21:20
Yeah, it was it was it was over 10 years ago, it was probably 12 or 13 years ago, it was when they were residency here, they had just taken over and renovated and done a wonderful job on making it just a gorgeous theater. So at that time, we were sitting in the audience right about their wrap up
C.J. Newsom 21:37
there. That's right. And you leaned over to me, tap me and you said, you know, I think you can, you can do this, I said what you said, have your own show. And he put the bug in my mind at that point. And I'd always secretly wanted it, I guess I just thought it was a little far out of out of reach. But you know, in Branson, what you need to do is you need to not only have a great idea and a great concept for a show, but you've got to have a good business manager. And that's what my, my husband, Chris is. He's a fantastic business manager. And so we do little by little we put we put our show together. And I don't know if he that was part of the questions that you asked me earlier or not, but I'm just going to talk a little bit is now so I'm just mixing things up. And I
Matthew Boyce 22:24
know this is good. I I love hearing this. So okay, so you have the show, you saw the show here and then you guys, he wanted to take you to take on this endeavor. So what was your first venture you tried in Branson? Where were you? What did you do? What was the first thing you guys attempted?
C.J. Newsom 22:41
Well, I was the most familiar with the IMAX. And so I knew all the management knew knew a lot of the folks over there, talk to them. And I said, You know what, I've got this great idea for a show. And they said, Well, we're kind of full. We don't have much available right now. I said, I know. But I think I know just the place. And they've got the elite cinema one over there. It's movie theater, but it's the first theater over there that and it has a stage on it. I said, I've got this great idea for a show. And I'd love to do a morning spot, you know, maybe
Chris Newsom 23:16
doing my morning spot. She means 9am downbeat, which means the show starts at 9am because we had to be out and cleared by the 1115 movie. Yeah, that
C.J. Newsom 23:30
wasn't my original intention. I tried to pitch that basically I want to do a 10 o'clock morning show and then to cancel their morning show. They did not agree they didn't see it that way. So if I wanted to show in Branson, I needed to do it at nine in the morning. And when we we started laying out the calendar, we were six days a week at nine in the morning. We started out on March 5. I wanted to pay tribute to Miss Patsy Cline and march the fifth was the day that she passed away 50th anniversary 50 years to the day, in fact, and I just thought it would be a wonderful time to do it. And I was sort of trying to figure out if we needed to sell a cup of coffee with each ticket. I didn't know exactly how this nine o'clock thing was right? Because I had to get up at seven in the morning just to warm up. Yeah, I mean, singing Patsy is hard enough. But singing that's it nine,
Matthew Boyce 24:30
nine in the morning. And that's rough. It's a rough one.
C.J. Newsom 24:34
Walk through the door and smile and watch a show.
Matthew Boyce 24:37
There's a reason I don't sing morning shows. I'm not even up for our two o'clock shows.
C.J. Newsom 24:42
And it was great work because his his mother, my mother in law she she went around with me promoting at all the continental breakfast is in the morning. It would mean in Branson, you kind of in order to do a first shear show you kind of have to do a lot of groundwork. And so we went to all the continental Breck offices that would allow it. We talked to the management such, and I would walk in, and I would sing crazy. And and, and try and win their hearts. And he did a great job. You know, I mean, we really we were successful that first year, I was kind of surprised. I mean, I'm hopeful, obviously. But I mean, at nine in the morning, I didn't know exactly what we beginning. And we averaged, I don't know about 20 people, or
Chris Newsom 25:26
20 to 25, which doesn't sound like a lot, but it made the bills for the size crowd we have. And the venue we had because
C.J. Newsom 25:33
we had a we had a full five piece band. I mean, they were
Chris Newsom 25:37
getting paid peanuts. Well, not literally peanuts. But you think
Matthew Boyce 25:41
about all the shows in town to think about all the shows that are at 10 o'clock, two o'clock, eight o'clock. And you think, wow, like, if this show can get 30 people this show can get six ish. There's enough. There's a lot of people to go around to this town that are in town and every time that there can be hundreds in one place. Hundreds and another 20 Here 40 Here like everyone's all over the place. Yeah, it's not like they're told the town's done with entertainment or a lack of people well,
C.J. Newsom 26:03
and usually, when people come into town, they have their plans made. Yeah, so you're dealing with that a lot and
Matthew Boyce 26:12
fit into those last few slots people are trying to fill
Chris Newsom 26:14
which is a perfect segue to our sponsor, the Americana theater. COMM see all the great shows here? We do have a lot of great ones. And you can check out our website at Americana theater branson.com. Americana theater branson.com.
Matthew Boyce 26:29
Or something really special for these people. Okay, because, you know, there's a lot of people listening and this is our first first episode versus
Chris Newsom 26:35
the Nagre inaugural. I can't say that right inaugural.
Matthew Boyce 26:39
I mean, I know I'm just thinking about this. But yeah, so we have a great kickback program here that we offer to people once this is their first show their shows for the year 50% off. And it's different than a lot of theaters, do a lot of theaters do a few dollars that we we want to pay people to come back. We love our Americana family as we call it. So 50% off, but these folks listening right now, you know, we I think you guys are our new family. So thanks for taking the time to listen to our podcast and tuning in. I think if you guys call the box of lemonade. You heard us on the podcast that you saw us you come to the box office, let us know you watched us. Listen to us. Let us know where to where you're looking at it. Whether it's YouTube, Facebook, Spotify, Apple Music, let us know where you're listening to this podcast on. But just tell the box office that we told you, you could use the half price code. Just call say, I heard on the podcast half price. That's your code you call the box, we'll take care of that deal for you. We'd love to have you come in and see all the shows here. We're all year through New Year's Eve. And we're going to talk about our New Year's Eve show eventually. But
Chris Newsom 27:38
and that's half price on all our regular shows that now we do have specialty shows like that New Year's Eve show or one offs that come in that unfortunately can't work for those. But it's a great deal. And you can call the box office at 417544 8700. That's 417544 8700 Yes,
Matthew Boyce 27:56
give us a call and take advantage of that deal. We would love to have you here at the Americana theater. Now, CJ, let's pick up where you left off. You were talking about um,
C.J. Newsom 28:03
okay. Well, after the IMAX came Dave hammers theater, yes, hammers variety theater. We were there for two years. We were matinee show of the year over there. And we just we went leaps and bounds in that time period. And while we were in that time period as well. I had a very special experience. And thus far it's been the experience of a lifetime. I went to go see Miss Brenda Lee in concert. And you know, I'd always wanted to see her she was she came to brands and this is the opportunity of a lifetime. And this was over she performed over at Andy Williams theater. And she put on an amazing concert now I don't know if our how many of our viewers are familiar with Brenda Lee but she's always been known as Little Miss dynamite. And I mean it's true she's just Little Miss energy just hopping across the stage if you will. Still just full of life and full a
Chris Newsom 29:02
certain number one song she did that. What's the one everyone would know?
C.J. Newsom 29:06
Probably I'm sorry.
Chris Newsom 29:08
I'm sorry. Oh, that's
C.J. Newsom 29:09
beautiful ballad. She did have several upbeat numbers sweet nothings. Oh, she also did a Christmas song. Yeah, rockin around the Christmas tree.
Chris Newsom 29:18
That was all that was Brindley, wasn't it? Yeah. And she was yeah, she was young then. So mad about that. Oh, my favorites, too. That's a great one. But anyway, you were at the concert. So yeah,
C.J. Newsom 29:28
I was at the concert she put on to this amazing concert. And then she did something that I've never seen another entertainer do. She said okay, we're here in Branson amongst, you know, all these entertainers and stars. I need some good singers to come up here on the stage with me. And so me and about 20 Other people come up, proceed to come up on the stage with her and she says okay, I'm gonna go through the line and I want each of you to say your name and where you're from. So when she gets to me, I said, Hey, you know, I'm CJ Newsom, and I perform a show here in town paying tribute to Miss Patsy Cline. And of course, I knew that we get her attention because her and Patsy were very close. So she finished the line. And then she came back to me and she said, What's your favorite Patsy Cline song? I said crazy. And she said What key do you do and I said be flat. And she goes Alright fellas player a little. And so right there in front of God and everybody I got to perform for Miss Brenda Lee. Excellent was the opportunity of a lot. I felt like I was singing for Patsy Cline herself. I got her phone number afterwards. And
Chris Newsom 30:45
Brenda Lee was pretty impressed with what she heard you say
C.J. Newsom 30:48
she was just very sweet, very humble.
Chris Newsom 30:52
That it's almost like hearing Patsy saying,
C.J. Newsom 30:54
Oh, that's right. Yeah, that was her. That was her exact quote. So what a cool memory. That's awesome. Nothing is really quite taking the place of that yet. So I've had some amazing opportunity. Yeah, in Branson brands has made that possible for me. Because, you know, when I was younger, I had dreams of maybe moving to Nashville or something elusive. I didn't know really what I wanted to do. But when my folks moved down to Branson, I got my first job down here and kind of settled into Branson and realized how much Branson has always felt like home. It's beautiful, because it's it's a it's a big tourist town, if you will, but it has this small hometown feeling to it. And I'm sure you experienced a little bit of that, you know, being from New York. Yeah. Was that one of the things that kind of impressed you at first I mean, you know,
Matthew Boyce 31:47
so I have a little bit of a weird situation in New York because we I grew up of course in your but not like a city vibe. I grew up in a similar tourist situation. To Branson, you know, we are a we're a horse racing towns, we have a lot of tourists coming in. But you know, we have a lot of tourists come into town. And we all know our locals. It's a pretty big population. But it's this the family vibe we have here in brands where everybody kind of knows everybody, it's different. And it definitely was weird at first because everything everybody knows everything within five minutes of it happening out here. And that definitely didn't happen back home. In New York, you mind your own business or you you know, so. But here, it's your friends everybody or, or else you're not part of it, you know, you've got to be involved in everyone hears everything, everyone knows everything so well. And that's
Chris Newsom 32:33
the neat thing I feel about the fans, you guys that come and see these wonderful performers on stage. The thing that makes Branson so nice, so different than almost anywhere else in the world is the entertainers are approachable. Yeah, the entertainers go out after the show in the lobby, take photos and sign autographs, and hear the stories that we want to hear from you. You guys tell us about how we impacted you or about your family and your kids. And we'd love to be able to hear that and get to know you guys. And that's one thing that makes Branson we're not weird. Great. And it also makes certain entertainers. Many entertainers would come to Branson thinking, Oh, it'll be just another place to form. They get here and they realize no, you have to come off the stage. You can't just perform an exit the back door and say see ya. Yeah, I'm glad we really get to be able to reach out and I tell you what, I love it. I love it. It makes this experience so much richer than other places where if you were to perform and just leave, you don't get that interaction and those relationships built.
C.J. Newsom 33:46
Yeah, I'm glad you touched on that actually. Because that's what I was thinking. And I think that's what gets our return. Customers are returned viewership. I mean, you you begin to I mean, all people all entertainers Garth Brooks. I mean, everybody, you know, we're all real people. And that's the, the attraction, the magnetism, of Branson. And I think that's what has sustained it throughout the years and made it what it is actually.
Chris Newsom 34:12
And that's what this podcast is about. Branson's best shows, we're really focusing only on the shows we're not focusing on the attractions, though. We love them. We are so glad the attractions are here. We're so glad the golf courses are here. The lake is here. All these wonderful things that bring you guys here to visit Branson, but shows are what we know. And entertainers are what we know. So that's what you're gonna get here.
Matthew Boyce 34:38
Now speaking of what we know I have to bring this up because I think this is absolutely hilarious. Chris, you have no background before working in Branson, in producing shows. So you've learned a lot in your time and brands and from other performers, other theaters other great general managers. You've talked to great producers. You have some great people on your team. Now, you were working in Engineering, you're studying it, you have a background in magic. You've done so many different things. What really made you say, You know what? I want to run a theater, because you had some great paths. She had really good money making paths here. So what made you want to say I want to run a theater in Branson? What is
Chris Newsom 35:18
I'm a chemical engineer from Texas a&m University Giga Maggie's class on 99. And I thought, huh, that's a solid plan B. Yeah. I moved here. We started magic shops, which was fantastic. We had one at the IMAX where I met this lovely young lady. A few years ago,
C.J. Newsom 35:40
we made my heart disappear.
Chris Newsom 35:43
And had had then got the magic shop out at Silver Dollar City, which I'd worked up before we've actually on the magic shop out sort of city for almost 20 years now. And then we had one at the celebration city. I know it's crazy, isn't it? 20 years, yeah, almost 20 years, we've owned that magic shop and and then out at Celebration city as well. If y'all remember celebration city, I love celebration City. I was the only shop that made money out at Celebration city. But I didn't understand why they didn't just keep it going just for us. But right. But we loved it. And I know many of you guys love celebration city as well. But anyway, we were doing all that kind of stuff and and got married to this lovely young lady. She learned magic much to her chagrin. And of course, she was performing there at the IMAX, which made it nice. We had a couple kids. We have beautiful kids. Yeah, kids learn to walk in the eye, man. Absolutely. Yep. And so we have two kiddos. And once we were sort of done having kiddos I went, you know, it might be time to start doing a show. It's the right time in our lives to be able to take that risk. And boy, is it a risk
C.J. Newsom 36:51
and then it took off. I mean, you know, yeah. Because we didn't. You didn't just go to I'm going to be running a theater. No Ranson? No, I
Chris Newsom 37:00
never thought I'd be running a theater. This was the last thing. It's like how my
Matthew Boyce 37:06
other kid, you will never be ready to produce a shit. You need to just do it. Because you think, oh, I need to do this. I need to prepare this I needed to make Mark No, you need to do it or else you're not going to do it. Because you'll think about everything and you'll back out. So you just got to really just
Chris Newsom 37:19
Well, we started we we we produced at the IMAX, which was a very little low risk, which was great. And we found some success there. Like I said it was not huge, overwhelming success, but some success there. And I thought hey, so I called up my good friend Dave Hamner. I said, Hey, Dave, do you got an afternoon time slot? He said, Sure. We'd love to have you over there. So we came early. He said, spend a couple of years there. And then we have good friends Matt and Amber from number one hits of the 60s. They actually were running the Americana at the time. They said hey, next year, we'd love for you to be a night show. Now we were afternoon we'd started at 9am for one year, then two years, we're at 3pm. And that was exciting and and they said hey, we we want you to be a night show three days a weekend like that's, that's great on the strip at the Americana theater, who could pass that up? So we moved here. And we started learning about more about theater and taking being I got more involved in it. Me and the technical director along with their technical director was going through and rewiring the theater back to what it should be like because it had been the head guards did a great job then some other people take over over time and had you know made sure to do some interesting things in the theater. So we we got it back up and running the way it should have been done. And it was very exciting. And we had a great year. Barry Williams was opposite us at night. You know Greg Brady, so it'd be Greg Brady one night then CJ Newsom, which was at the time Patsy Cline and friends then CJ Newsom later on, so it was great. And then number one hits the 60s, they were running the theater and they didn't really mean to be running a theater. Because running a theater is hard. It's a lot of work. And they did not want to run a theater. They just wanted to run their show. They want to do their show, get off stage say hi to you guys get off stage and go home. So they said, Hey, Chris, we're going to take a spot at Clay Cooper's theatre. We don't want to run the theater anymore, which sort of threw us in a tailspin because we weren't going to run a theater here. We couldn't afford to run a theater here. So we went around and found some deals we thought and they fell through and this still came up and it fell through. And it was really interesting because God sort of just moved us through because there was no way I thought I could take on the risk of running this theater. So he moved us through all these things and and we went well for that rate. We could continue to rent here at the Americana theater. That's the way to go and So we took over the Americana Theater, which at the time, we were just going to rent show slots we were, we were going to do our show, and then rent out the rest because we were going to share the risk with others. What we did not realize is many Branson shows fail after two months of doing the show, and the rent goes on. It's sort of like the beats, okay, so you'd have a show open, they would have a time slot. In fact, there was one year here, where we were dark, half the nights and most of the afternoons it was CJ Plus, our good friend George Dyer was doing your show. But it was a pretty rough year. So it's, it's been exciting. So we grew over time, I got to meet this guy, and 2020 very excited to to get him to come and rent and spend money at the I mean, get to know him, right. And so did it did a great job. It was a lot of fun. But I saw real talent with him. mathy voices, that really, really talented guy. And I thought we really need to get him in more what's going on here. And I realized that there's not that many people running shows anymore wanted to rent the time slot. So we had to start producing shows, we ended up having writing the country vault, come here. And then we ended up producing that which got my toe in running other shows than just CJ show. And then we added a show and added a show and added a show. Now we have five shows we produce here and two, we rent. So it's been pretty exciting. But I'll tell you what, I'll wake up in the morning. Now remember, this is an entertainer morning time. So it's like 11 or noon, but I'll wake up and I'll roll over. And my phone is just full of messages of fires, I need to put out things that have happened, hey, the actual not real fires, luckily. But it does make it pretty exciting. So it's it but I tell you what, I wouldn't trade it. I love it. I love the experiences I've gotten to do being here getting to know all the entertainers, producing shows sitting in the sound booth and seeing some dreams come to life. It's been really amazing.
Matthew Boyce 42:11
And over the last couple