Branson is called “The live music show capital of the world” because of the diversity and quality of its live music shows. The announcement from Las Vegas on July 4 that the Grammy winning Hip-Hop singer “Nelly” will be performing a concert in Branson as part of the re-opening of the Grand Place in Branson on Aug. 21 adds a new genre of music to that diversity and provides more entertainment choices for Branson’s visitors.
There has been a lot of talk, not only “around town” but on the internet about the appearance and what it means to Branson. There have been about 17,000 views and 450 comments on the “Show Forum” of www.1Branson.com alone, discussing Nelly, his music, the outside venue location, etc.
When the City of Branson denied the promoters application for a Special Event permit there were some who tried to make more of it than it was. For what it is worth, the Ole Seagull believes that the application submitted in the form that it was and trying to put up to six thousand people in a parking lot not zoned or designed for large outdoor concerts would have been turned down if the concert was going to be given by Carrie Underwood or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
In denying the application the city said, “This denial is not a denial of this concert, but a problem with the organizer submitting an inadequate and incomplete outdoor Special Event application…Our Planning Department is willing to work closely with Mr. Dunn [Paul Dunn, the concerts sponsor] to meet the building codes so he can open the theatre by August 21 for the Nelly Concert to be held inside.”
Almost immediately some raised the cry, “Double standard Branson Landing gets permission to hold concerts, but Nelly’s promoter doesn’t.” Not really. As Branson Landing was being developed and before it was built, the City of Branson, on November 10, 2003, approved Ordinance No. 2003-276 entitled “An Ordnance Approving ‘PD’ Planned Development Zoning and Approving Land Use Regulations for Planned Development PD-2003-003 For Property Known As Branson Landing, Branson, Missouri.”
Section 2 of those regulations entitled, “Regulations Specific to Each Parcel” provides, as one of the authorized commercial uses, “Amphitheatre and related facilities.” The Branson Landing Concerts are a permitted use and are conducted in an amphitheater specifically designed for, among other things, entertainment concerts and events. “Amphitheaters” are not authorized as either a “permitted” or “special use” in Section 410.040 of the Branson Municipal Code. The proposed Nelly concert was in the middle of an already developed area within feet of hotels, attractions and restaurants on a parking lot not zoned or “designed for large outdoor concerts.”
Much ado has been made about people’s perception of Nelly and the kind of entertainment he will bring to Branson. Now the Ole Seagull will more than likely never be a fan of Hip-Hop and has never had the pleasure of meeting Nelly personally, but based on what he has read and his gut, he will bet his feathers that the people attending Nelly’s concert will get a great performance from him and have a wonderful Branson entertainment experience. At the end of the day isn’t that what Branson is all about, giving our guests a great experience so they will want to return to Branson again?
“But Seagull what about the type of crowd he will draw?” An Ole Seagull would suggest that most objective studies of the demographics involved with different genres of music and artists will find demographic differences and similarities in their fan base. For what it matters, the Ole Seagull believes that the majority of the people going to see Nelly’s concert will be those who are fans of Hip Hop or Nelly. Fans who, like thousands of other people attending other Branson shows on August 21st, just want to have a great entertainment experience. Oh, and before you call him naïve, or worse, check around with some of your younger family members, friends and associates.
“OK, but what about some of his lyrics?” Give an Ole Seagull a break. A lot of music, including some of Nelly’s has something that someone is going to object to. That’s an individual decision handled by not buying a ticket, recommending the show, etc. No one knows what will be in Nelly’s Branson show, but this an Ole Seagull believes, “It will be, by Branson standards, a unique totally different entertainment experience that might offend a few, but will delight its intended audience.”
These lyrics from Nelly’s “Self-Esteem” had a special impact on the Ole Seagull and they have a universal message that seemed like an appropriate ending:
“You got to believe in yourself
Don’t let nobody tell you what you can’t be
You got to believe in yoursel-elf, yeah
And everything else’ll work out, you’ll see
Ohh (ohh) ohh, ohh, hoh!”