Herald JournalHerald Journal Holiday Guide, Dec. 2, 2002

Local performs daily on stage in Branson

By Monica Tenhoff

Recently, my husband Russ and I had the pleasure of going to Branson, Mo. There are so many attractions to see while in this bluegrass capital.

There are museums, wineries, a large dam and reservoir, beautiful scenery, and, yes, the music shows.

Of course, we planned on going to a few shows, although the scenery and other attractions were high on our list.

We had wanted to look up an old schoolmate of mine, Bruce Hoffman, who graduated from Howard Lake-Waverly High School. He had been over to my in-laws on several occasions to "jam" with Russ, his dad, and many friends.

We never did find the time to try to locate him.

We chose to go to a show called "The Grand Ladies of Country Music." It just so happened that Bruce and his band was playing for the female singers that night.

The woman at the ticket booth walked us to the back where Bruce comes in so that we could see him. We had a nice chat until he had to go onstage, and later we were able to talk with him longer.

We were so impressed with the show, both in entertainment and with music, that we decided to come back the next day to see a different show that Bruce plays in.

It turns out that Bruce plays three different shows a day, with one being a repeat show, making a total of four shows a day.

It sounds like the schedule is demanding, and in the course of our conversation, he did say that within the next year, he will cut back to two shows a day.

We had such an enjoyable visit that it was practically the highlight of our trip. I think he enjoyed talking to us as well as we enjoyed talking to him.

He was really interested in what was going on back home, even though he seemed very happy doing what he does in Branson. We felt like he was dropping everything to give us a few moments, and we felt very welcomed.

We got to rub shoulders with the stars! (Literally, just look at the photo!)

Bruce Hoffman is a very personable guy. We shared some stories about what life was like post-graduation, our families, and how Bruce has a passion for windmills . . .

He moved down to Branson about nine years ago, after playing in local clubs. He is married to Donna-Fay, a girl from Canada, and together they have two sons, Ryan and Keith.

I am not sure how many music albums/CDs he has out, but we purchased his two latest. One has some traditional bluegrass/fiddle songs, like Orange Blossom Special, Sugarfoot Rag, Wayfaring Stranger, and the Wabash Cannonball.

The newer of the two CDs is a Christmas Music CD. Bruce gives a little different spin to the traditional sound, making it upbeat and very enjoyable.

His CDs are very tastefully done. We found out that Bruce does most of the music arrangements for the shows that he is in. He and his band really do put on quite a show.

The humor is great, and the music is exceptional. If you are planning a trip to Branson, plan on attending one of his shows, you won't be disappointed.

If you would like more information on what shows Bruce plays in, or about his CDs, you could contact the 76 Music Hall, 76 Country Music Boulevard, Branson, Mo. or call (417) 335-2484.

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