‘On The Road’

Branson On The Road’s travelling music show visits Struthers Library Theatre May 20

Photo submitted to Times Observer From left are Brian Capps, Debbie Horton and Cliff Boone of Branson On The Road, set to perform at Struthers Library Theatre on May 20.

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

Branson On The Road is a delightful traveling music show reminiscent of Hee Haw and the Grand Ole Opry that is coming to the Struthers Library Theatre in Warren, Pennsylvania on May 20, at 8 p.m.

The lively trio of Branson, Missouri headliners include: guitarist and singer Debbie Horton, upright bass player and singer Brian Capps and singer and player of guitar, mandolin and banjo Cliff Boone.

Struthers Library Theatre caught up with Debbie on the road and talked for a spell to get her thoughts on her music and career, that has spanned decades.

SLT: What can people expect when they come to see Branson On The Road at Struthers Library Theatre on May 20th?

DH: Branson On The Road is a true Branson show experience! We are the only show endorsed by the Branson Chamber of Commerce as their traveling ambassadors. And what does that mean? It means there is plenty of classic country, bluegrass, gospel, rockabilly, and hilarious family friendly comedy! All live music and beautiful rhinestone costumes. We guarantee everyone a good time from young to old.

SLT: What do you think it is about the country, rockabilly, bluegrass and gospel music that you perform that draws people to listen and sends them away happy and humming at the close of the show?

DH: That is an excellent question! What we bring is authenticity. We are the real deal. Branson On The Road is in the same vein as the original traveling roadshows from the Grand Ole Opry and the Louisiana Hayride. Unlike many of the shows today, Branson On The Road delivers real music without all of the gimmicks. In fact, if you see smoke on our stage, you better head for the door!

SLT: There’s a good deal of family friendly humor in your performances, do you have a favorite stories of hijinks that spill over off stage?

DH: Oh yes! We have so much fun with the audience. There is a section of the show similar to Hee Haw with a lot of good old country humor. You never know what’s coming next! There is even a part of the show where we have the audience participate by naming classic country singers and we perform songs from those particular entertainers. That is always so much fun and we never know what’s going to be coming our way.

SLT: What can you tell us about your co-stars Brian Capps and Cliff Boone?

DH: Brian Capps has been with Branson On The Road from the very beginning. He is one of the best upright slap bass players in the country and has been hired by many entertainers to play bass on their recordings. Brian has had songs on the Americana charts and has been part of the Branson music scene for over 20 years. Cliff Boone is the newest member of Branson On The Road but no stranger to country music. Cliff has been part of many shows in Branson, most recently the Hank Williams Revisited show. Cliff plays excellent lead guitar, banjo, and the mandolin. He also has a beautiful baritone voice that the audience is going to love!

SLT: You were the only female to play lead guitar for Johnny Cash. Could you share your memories of that experience?

DH: I knew Johnny Cash for over 20 years. He was a wonderful man. I was very privileged to spend a lot of time with him at various shows throughout the country. At a show in Baltimore, Maryland, Johnny found out that I had learned to play guitar like his guitar player Luther Perkins. In the middle at the show, Johnny called me out of the audience and asked me to play guitar for him on stage. That performance, plus many photos, are on our website www.bransonontheroad.com. It was a complete surprise to me when he called me on stage…and to make it even more amazing, he had never heard me play before! But I did, and from that point on every time I saw Johnny Cash he would say to me, “There is Debbie, the only woman to ever play lead guitar for me!” We include a tribute to Johnny Cash on every Branson On The Road show.

SLT: How did you get in to music and performing?

DH: My father always played guitar at home when we were growing up. He was not a professional musician, but enjoyed singing and playing the old country songs. When I was 11 years old, I asked him to show me a few chords on the guitar. That got me started and I have not stopped since. I started singing with my sister in church and always loved it. I pursued a career in the music business professionally about 25 years ago and it has been wonderful!

SLT: You are a veteran of the Grand Ole Opry stage, what does that mean to you?

DH: Performing on the stage of the world famous Grand Ole Opry was a dream come true for me. I have been extremely blessed in the music business in not only playing on the Opry, but also performing on the legendary Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, Louisiana, the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree in Nashville Tennessee, and hosting my own show at the Boxcar Willie Theatre in Branson, Missouri. I have also had songs I have written recorded by Wanda Jackson, and Pretty Miss Norma Jean from the old Porter Wagoner show. Branson On The Road has opened doors for us to travel all over the United States and abroad. We love what we do!

Branson On The Road plays in Warren at 8 p.m. on May 20 at the historic Struthers Library Theatre. Tickets are still available at $18, $21 and $24 and every audience member has a chance to meet the stars of the show. Purchase your tickets at www.strutherslibrarytheatre.com, at the door, or by calling or visiting the theatre office at 302 West 3rd Avenue in Warren at ( 814) 723-7231.