New South Quartet performs nightly at Grand Jubilee. (Photo by Michael Frost)
By Michael J. Frost
For many people, a trip to Branson wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Grand Country Resort. While the entertainment complex offers a wide variety of activities, restaurants, and shows, it is the evening show, Grand Jubilee, that keeps many folks coming back time and time again. For those coming to Branson for the first time and seeking the most popular shows in town, they often find themselves being directed toward the Grand Jubilee.
The show has a history of consistently providing quality entertainment to audiences in Branson, and has earned a reputation as a top-notch, award-winning production by showcasing talented singers, musicians, and comedians.
The cast of Grand Jubilee features Emcee and Producer, Mike Patrick; Comedian, Jamie Haage; Vocalist, Jackie Brown; and a live band that includes Rob Blackburn, Gene Mulvaney, Wayne Massengale, Larry Allred, Michael W. Davis and Matt Hanshaw. New South Quartet rounds out the cast, featuring Jon Drockelman on tenor, Jason Robinson on lead, David Price on Baritone, and Mark McCauley on bass.
Robinson, in addition to performing with New South, also serves as marketing representative for the complex.
Several shows appear at the Grand Country Music Hall, including The Ozark Mountain Jubilee and the Sunday Gospel Jubilee, starring the Bacon Family Singers. These shows have been playing there for 23 seasons, according to Robinson.
“Grand Jubilee is our flagship show,” he said. “It is in its 12th season here in Branson and is the second longest running show at Grand Country Music Hall.”
Robinson attributes the success of the Grand Jubilee to mutiple factors.
“First, the show runs literally all year and is the only Branson show that operates like this. This gives us the opportunity to entertain guests at all times and even have a captive audience if travelers want to catch a show in the ‘off season.’ When those travelers return to Branson, we seem to be able to draw them back in. However, the greater reason is the quality of entertainment within the show,” Robinson said.
Year in and year out, the Grand Jubilee strives to offer top-notch entertainment for all ages, he explained.
“From the award winning Grand Band to the frontline cast, the show has no weak link in it and appeals to everyone. We are proud to say that the Grand Jubilee was voted 2013 Show of the Year here in Branson,” he added.
Robinson is also proud to be a part of the the Jubilee’s featured quartet, New South. This season, the quartet underwent a change with the addition of a new member.
“I switched from singing tenor the last 3 years to singing lead, and Jonny Drockleman, formerly of the Comedy Jamboree, has joined the group as our new tenor. In my opinion, the blend of the quartet has never been better,” Robinson said.
Performing every night with the guys of New South has helped them form a brotherly bond that is apparent on stage.
“The group came together through the efforts of show producer Mike Patrick. Over the years Mike has assembled, through painstaking efforts at times, a group of guys that not only love singing, but love being in a quartet. In order to perform together six days a week, 50 weeks a year, egos have to be checked at the door. I am proud to say that our quartet is a like a brotherhood, lacking animosity and centered on fun. That is both a testament to Mike’s efforts and the quality of guys that have joined New South. Work is a blast.”
Folks coming back to see the guys in 2014 will have the opportunity to hear some different material, as Robinson said they have added many new songs this season, as well as new comedy routines.
What else helps set this show apart from other productions in the area? It’s the live band — known as The Grand Band, Robinson said.
“They are three time winners of Branson’s Band of the Year and are simply the best band in this town. They are a six piece band that use no stacks, tracks or pre-recordings. Everything you hear on our stage is 100% live and the band is always spot on. With a band like that laying a foundation for the Grand Jubilee, it is hard to walk away from this show without tappin’ your toes,” he said.
The show is also proud to have long-standing cast members. “We have two original cast members of the Grand Jubilee still with us: Mark McCaulley, New South Bass Singer, is an original member of the show, as well as piano player, Michael W. Davis.”
One of the perks of being a part of the Jubilee is seeing a lot of repeat audience members, Robinson explained.
“Actually, we have over 1,600 season pass holders, many of whom attend multiple times a week. We call our pass holders ‘The Wild Bunch’ and believe me, they have earned that nickname,” he said.
“We not only have hundreds of repeat audience members, but we have developed friendships through this group. We look forward to seeing our regulars,” he added.
Is there anyone who stands out in that group?
“Yes! We have nicknames for some of our favorite stand outs. The group has to unanimously agree on a nickname before the nickname can officially be given — but as of right now we have nicknames for approximately 57 regulars,” he told.
Robinson said as for himself, he is blessed to be a part of the Grand Jubilee and New South Quartet – something he had wanted for a long time.
“I have been in Branson shows for almost 15 years. I waited a long time for the opportunity to be a part of this cast. I wanted to join the Grand Jubilee because of the reputation of the people in the show and due to the show’s quality. After working here for four years, I can say with confidence that everything I thought about this place is true. The show is awesome, the cast is composed of quality people, who happen to be great entertainers, and there is not a more entertaining show in this town,” he said.
“If you have attended the show multiple times and are not a season pass holder, you need to look into it. The benefits on the rest of the property are worth it alone,” he added.
For more information on Grand Jubilee, Grand Country Resort and all its shows and attractions, visit http://www.grandcountry.com, or call 1-888-514-1088.
Here’s what others are saying about Grand Jubilee:
I have seen this show several times. They have won all kinds of awards. The quartet is great with each guy very capable of doing a great solo as well as harmonize. The band is exceptional—talented and entertaining. Jackie is the best female vocalist I’ve heard in Branson. Jim Dandy and Mike Patrick are very funny. If I had to choose 5 shows in Branson, this would be one of them. I especially like their gospel, 50s, and Elvis songs! — Jan M.
Grand Jubilee is my favorite show at Grand Country. The best band in Branson, and one of the best female vocalist. If you want to you can go up to everybody in the cast and meet them. The comedian Jim Dandy is so funny. — Dana S.
This was the second time we’ve seen this show and it has only gotten better. New South is an excellent quartet and the band is about as perfect as one can get. We went back for the Thursday Gospel show and were even more impressed. All the performers sit on the edge of the stage during intermission, shake hands, sign autographs and visit with the guests. — Ted T.
New South was amazing! One of the best I’ve heard in a while! We come to Branson often and usually end up doing the same things over and over. With the recommendation from our concierge we went with this show. So glad we did! Very entertaining. Loved the comedian! We see again! I recommend seeing this show! — Ronda M.
My husband and I have been coming to Branson for the past eight years. We have been Season Pass holders for this show for four years. This show only gets better every year. New South can’t be beat for close harmonies, high energy and splendid stage appearance. Mike Patrick and Jamie Haage keep you laughing throughout the show and Jackie Brown is one of the most beautiful and talented female vocalist I’ve heard. The Grand Band is just that, “GRAND”. This show is a must see when visiting Branson, Mo. — Kathy S.