BY: JOSHUA CLARK
Up Close Concerts owner and promoter Bob Cannella has added two more shows to his 10th anniversary season in Branson with country hitmaker Joe Nichols Sept. 2, and 70s and 80s soul funk group the Commodores on Sept. 16 Both acts will perform at the Welk resort Theatre.
Nichols, a Rodgers, Arkansas native, grew up in a musical family, and found work as a member of a local rock band, as well as a DJ. After recording his first album for an independent label, Nichols’ second album, “Man with a Memory,” spawned the No. 3 hit “The Impossible.”
That album went platinum and snagged Nichols a Top New Male Vocalist award from the Academy of Country Music, as well as three Grammy Award nominations and the Country Music Association’s Horizon Award. The album’s second single, “Brokenheartsville,” became his first No. 1 hit on the Billboard country charts. Follow-up tunes “She Only Smokes When She Drinks” and “Cool to Be a Fool” hit the Top 20.
Nichols’ next album yielded the hits “If Nobody Believed in You” and “What’s a Guy Gotta Do,” but his fourth album, “III,” saw the release of his most popular tune, the No. 1 hit “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off.” Both the single and the album went Gold. The album also produced the Top Ten hits “Size Matters (Someday),” and “I’ll Wait for You.”
In all, Nichols’ albums have produced 14 Top 40 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts, including “Gimmie That Girl,” and the 2014 tunes “Sunny and 75,” and the Gold single “Yeah.”
Tickets for the Joe Nichols show go on sale March 24.
Later in September, the Welk Resort Theatre will host the Commodores, featuring original member William “Wak” King, co-lead singer Walter “Clyde” Orange, who was the voice behind “Night Shift” and “Brick House,” and former Heatwave singer James Dean “J.D.” Nicholas, who took over as co-lead singer in 1984.
The Commodores were formed in 1968 while all the members were in college at Tuskeegee University. After snagging a gig as the opening act for the Jackson 5, the group was signed by Motown producer and owner Berry Gordy in 1972. The group blended soul, funk and R&B with the vocals of Orange and Lionel Richie, and saw massive success with hits like “Easy,” “Three Times a Lady,” “Fancy Dancer,” “Sail On” and “Lady (You Bring Me Up).”
In 1978, the Commodores made a cameo in the 1978 film “Thank God It’s Friday, performing “Too Hot ta Trot” during the dance contest. “Brick House” and “Easy” were also played during the movie. Following the release of several more hits, Richie left the group in 1982 to pursue a solo career.
The band weathered the storm of replacing the iconic Richie, snagging their first Grammy award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals for the 1985 hit “Nightshift.” The tune is a tribute to fallen R&B artists Jackie Wilson and Marvin Gaye.
Overall, the Commodores sold more than 60 million records, and now consist of Orange, Nicholas, and King, along with their five-piece band, known as the “Mean Machine.” The group continues to perform, playing at arenas, theaters, and festivals around the world.
Tickets for the Commodores go on sale March 22.
Cannella also hinted he’d be announcing a Branson date for another iconic group later this month.
“A group celebrating 50 years of good times will be on the Up Close Concerts stage at Welk Resort Theatre Oct. 3,” Cannella teased. “Whether you fell in love with them on TV or have a stack of their many hit records, fans of all ages will be having a lot of fun on this special night.”
In addition to Nichols and the Commodores, Cannella has also announced several other shows set for this season at both the Welk Resort Theatre, as well as the Dick Clark American Bandstand Theater.
First up at the Welk Resort Theatre is Trace Adkins April 22, Barrett Baber on May 6,Engelbert Humperdink will perform May 14, the “Roots & Boots Tour” starring Aaron Tippin, Sammy Kershaw and Collin Ray May 27, Diamond Rio June 10, Huey Lewis & the News June 15, and Peter Noone Oct. 28, also at the Welk Resort Theatre. Crystal “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” Gayle and T.G. Sheppard will perform at the Welk Resort Theatre July 1.
The Welk will also the “Happy Together Tour,” starring the Turtles featuring Flo and Eddie, former Three Dog Night lead singer Chuck Negron, former Paul Revere and the Raiders lead singer Mark Lindsay, the Cowsills, Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, and the Spencer Davis Group starring Spencer Davis Aug. 5, as well as Lee Greenwood and Lacy J. Dalton Oct. 7. Ronnie Milsap and Johnny Rodriguez are set to take the stage at the Welk Resort Theatre Oct. 14.
At Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater, Taylor Hicks will perform May 4, Terri Clark will take the stage May 11, followed by Moe Bandy and Johnny Lee May 18. Chubby Checker, the man responsible for ‘The Twist,” will perform at the venue May 25.
Restless Heart will take the Bandstand stage Sept. 16. Bandy and his longtime partner Joe Stampley Oct. 5, followed by entertainers Matthew and Gunnar Nelson, Ricky Nelson’s twin sons, who will perform “Ricky Nelson Remembered” Oct. 12. The following week, Bandstand hosts a triple-header with T.G. Sheppard, David Frizell and Jeannie Seely on Oct. 19, followed by Gary Lewis and the Playboys Nov. 2.
After performing several dates in Branson the last few years, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theatre will host the lone Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers date in Branson Nov. 9, and Chubby Checker again Nov. 16.
Tickets for all Welk resort Theatre shows are available by calling 417-337-7469, or visiting upcloseconcerts.com.
For shows at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater, call 417-339-3003, visit the theater’s box office, or visitupcloseconcerts.com.