Sunday, November 1, 2009

Wizard of Branson

My wife and I just returned from one of Branson’s most entertaining shows; New’s Country at the Little Opry Theater in the IMAX Theater Complex. Branson’s Guitar Wizard, Leroy New, is a self-taught, naturally talented musician, singer, and song writer.

My interest in guitar playing goes back to my youth when a classmate enjoyed and became very good with an electric guitar. He even played on the Louisiana Hayride. My interest in this type music has followed me throughout my life. I liked Billy Byrd, Chet Atkins, Merle Travis, and even Montoya of Spanish guitar fame.

Having traveled to many places during my lifetime and being a member of a travel club that has nearly a hundred resorts everywhere, I still like Branson because of the many shows.

This last time however I chose to not go to a glitzy show, but saw an ad at the IMAX complex that said, ‘Guitar Wizard.’

Well, that got my attention but knew it would not have the fanfare some of the larger stars have in the bigger theaters. The 210-seat Little Opry Theatre sort of turned me off at first, but in moments this guitar player did not disappoint me. Backdrops, luster, changed right before my eyes during this two-hour show that is filled with classic country, bluegrass, and gospel music.

Leroy New played the guitar in so many genres that it is impossible for me to name them all. What amazed me was how he went for one style to another without any difficulty. It did not take me long to see how he had been called the greatest guitarist in Branson.

Aside from the great music, the show is filled with his description of experiences growing up in Kentucky. He presents story after story in a light-hearted way that each member of the audience can identify with. He continues his stories right up to his current days performing in Branson and having grandchildren of his own. And as you reminisce, it will have you yearning to return to see it him play again.

This man is fantastic! He looks right into his audience and delivers some fine country music both picking and singing. Likewise, he is unashamed to acknowledge his belief in God and mentioned he was also a minister.

He plays flat top guitar, electric guitar, and 4-string banjo, with such a smoothness one could not listen without being mesmerized by his ability.

After the show I talked briefly with him and his wife of 42 years and he gave my one of his CD’s which I have nearly worn out.

The next time you are in Branson tell New I sent you.

”Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; celebrate his lovely name with music.” -- Psalm 135:3

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