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If you can’t go to Branson, Branson will come to you; Branson On The Road show returns to the Ocotillo Performing Arts Center

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Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

What do you get when you bring together a mandolin, banjo, guitar, upright slap bass, rhinestone costumes, comedy, classic country, bluegrass, rockabilly and gospel music? Branson On The Road.

Branson On The Road is the brainchild of musician Debbie Horton who is also the producer of the show.

“We have put this show on the road for about 15 years,” Horton said in a phone interview. “I have been working in Branson at various theaters and I’ve been in the Branson area for 20 years. We get seven million visitors each year, why not take the Branson experience to people who might not get a chance to come to Branson.”

Branson, Missouri, started — as so many other American towns did — with a post office and general store near a riverboat stop along the White River in 1882. The town weathered the Great Depression by turning itself into a vacation destination. What followed were artists and investors who created festivals, parades, competitions and a theme park that included theaters centering on live shows.

Today, the town has more than 20 theaters and year after year, millions of visitors continue to flock to Branson to see the shows.

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“We are the only show that has the endorsement of the Branson Chamber of Commerce as their traveling ambassadors,” Horton said.

Asked about the continuing success of the Branson-style, Horton said, “I think if you have to put it into a nutshell, what we do is authentic. It’s real — the authenticity of the presentation and the music is going back to the days of the Grand Ole Opry, the Louisiana Hayride and even vaudeville-type entertainment. It’s all real Americana. You don’t get that much anymore. What we are bringing is truth and honesty on the stage with the presentation and the music.”

Horton said that the music style bridges generations. “We play songs from the ‘20s or ‘30s that the young ones may have never heard before. The songs have a story to tell, they are upbeat and they leave you feeling good,” she said.

A big part of the show is the telling of stories and remembering Horton’s close friend, Johnny Cash. “I was a friend of Johnny Cash for over 20 years. I am the only woman that played guitar for him. I talk about him and the personal relationship, making him a real person, not only somebody they (the audience) saw in the movies,” Horton said.

The musicians of Brandon On The Road are looking forward to interacting with their audience and will accept requests and playing the songs of other classic country singers.

Branson On The Road knows this part of New Mexico very well.

“We’ve been to Roswell,” Horton said. “We played in Roswell several years ago and this is our second time that we are in Artesia. The last time we were here was a couple years ago and our show was the largest show they (Ocotillo Performing Arts Center) ever sold.

“We are bringing Branson and Branson is a wholesome wonderful town. The type of entertainment is something that you just aren’t going to find in this part of the country,” Horton said.

“We love what we do and it is a real privilege returning to New Mexico. We love New Mexico,” she said.

“I’ve been to Santa Fe and then the Roswell area. I always am looking for the aliens to show up. I don’t know, I’ve seen some at the show, but I never get the chance to say hi to them before they leave. We always get a kick out of going through Roswell,” Horton said and laughed.

“The last time we were there — I think it was 2008 — they put us on the cover of the Roswell paper,” Horton said. “They had a picture of us playing. We picked up a paper and flipped it over and, oh my goodness, we were on the cover. That famous paper with the aliens, and I was on the front of it. Well, what I realized visiting Roswell and Artesia and that whole area was, you guys are so much more than just that (UFOs). Of course, that’s what puts you on the map, but the people are so sweet and the area is so beautiful.”

Asked who will accompany Horton, she said, “I got my two right men, well, one on the right, one on the left. We got Brian Capps on the base and he has been with me from the very beginning. The ladies love Brian, he kinda does the Elvis thing during the show and he’s a real nice looking guy, sings like a bird, with Elvis and a little Johnny Cash all mixed up. He is just fantastic and kinda cohosts the show with me.

“Then the one on the left is Cliff Boone. Cliff is the newest member of our organization; he has been with me for over a year now. He is just fantastic. He plays the guitar, he plays the mandolin, he plays the five-string banjo, and he has a beautiful baritone voice. Really great. He has a great delivery on the comedy — real deadpan delivery — that just cracks everybody up. I am kind of in the middle. We just have a good time. We can’t wait to get out there, in fact, to Artesia and the Roswell area. Oh my goodness, I love it, love it, love it,” Horton said.

Branson On The Road is going to perform at the Ocotillo Performing Arts Center, 310 W. St., on April 21 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. For more information, visit artesiaartscouncil.com or call 575-746-4212.

Christina Stock may be contacted at 622-7710, ext. 309, or at vision@rdrnews.com.

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