Wednesday, March 20, 2019
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20190213 sHOWCASE2 9118Country music singer Naomi Bristow “The Yodeling Cowgirl,” took a five-hour flight from Buffalo, N.Y. to arrive in the Valley to perform for nine minutes at the Entertainers’ Showcase held last week at Mission Bell Resort, then spent the rest of her time sightseeing.

The moments that immediately followed those nine minutes of singing, playing guitar and yodeling was worth that plane ticket – and more.

The second of two Winter Texan Entertainer Showcases took place at Mission Bell in front of 200 Winter Texan park activity and entertainment directors looking to book the best talent to perform at their parks for next season and beyond. Some performers, like Bristow, had a line waiting for them and when the whirlwind of negotiations were over, Bristow could announce that she would be introducing herself to the Valley with shows both in 2020 and 2021.

“It was totally different being down there but it was exciting and new and I was just hoping people would react to me and support the show as much as possible,” said the Ontario, Canada, native. “But it was nerve wracking. But the response was great for my first year.”

Naomi welcomed all those in attendance to “come and yodel with me.” Not many could yodel, but many tried. Bristow said she was 8 years old when she saw a girl on television yodeling. She then taught herself using a “book and tape and practicing a lot.”

20190213 sHOWCASE2 9264For the second straight year, San Antonio resident Kainoa Kawaka, electrified the crowd – with nothing more than an intense energy and his ukulele. “And you all thought you were going to hear “Tiny Bubbles,” he joked.

Dancing, jumping and even combining the Chuck Berry duck walk, Michael Jackson moonwalk and Jimi Hendrix guitar playing behind his back all in one song energized those in attendance. Like Bristow, when “Kai” made it to the back room, he had a group waiting to sign him up for the second straight year.

Shelly and Darren return, but instead of coming back individually, the couple got married since last year and are now performing a brand new show called the “Shelly and Darren” show. Darren performed last year as part of the group “Daddy D3” and the couple are still owners of the production company when they return north. They had the audience howling when they did their rendition of the opening song to Archie and Edith Bunker's “Those Were the Days,” sounding remarkably like the popular TV show couple, the bigoted curmudgeon Archie and his “dingbat” (his nickname for her) wife Edith.

“We've been performing together for 26 years, actually,” Shelly said. “We started singing at college.”

Each year there are two RGV showcases scheduled for performers from all over the country to attend, between 30-35 at each event. Each performer gets nine minutes to perform and it's during those nine minutes that the agent/bookies/entertainment directors will grade and write notes about each performer, hoping to catch the perfect date and bring them to their park.

IMG 8570The first showcase was held at Park Place in Harlingen and it seemed that the RV park representatives were much more conservative. Some entertainers claimed they heard that the reps were recommended to listen to everyone at both showcases before making their decisions. That may have held true as the booking room at Mission Bell was a hotbed of action and meetings between rep and talent. The negotiations even spilled over into nearby rooms.

Several entertainers who performed at the first showcase a week earlier attended the second showcase, not to perform but to secure deals with those who may have taken the “listen to them all” approach. Now that the showcases are done, many directors will take to their phones to fill in the remainder of next year's entertainment schedule and hope they and entertainer have dates available in common.

Donna Sue Delisle was in an interesting position – always with the action on both ends. She is the assistant activity director at Enchanted Valley Ranch but also performs under the name “Trailer Park Patsy.” She was moving at full-speed ahead at Mission Bell, first filling out her park's' entertainment schedule and adding some bookings for herself as other park directors called upon her.

“The good thing is that I know many of the entertainers and being one I think I have a good idea or what will work at our park,” she said, taking a breath from booker to bookie for just a few moments. “Each park has its different “likes” when it comes to who you bring in, and you want to bring in somebody who will draw a good crowd and somebody that when the crowd leaves will say they enjoyed the show.”

20190213 sHOWCASE2 8622Eric Kearns and his “Voices of Legends” also had a good showing and was one of the few that had success performing with just performer, microphone and tracks playing the music. His “shtick” is his uncanny knack for imitating some of the great performers of the past, from Rod Stewart to Tom Jones and more.

The ever-popular Punches Family, Lawless and Mae, and Rewind were just a few of the others that “caught the fancy” of those in attendance.

Bristow said she had never been to something like a showcase. “It felt like I was auditioning, which, I guess I was,” she said, adding that she is finishing her senior year in college this year. “I had some friends who have performed down here and they told me about it and gave me some advice. It really is a terrific event but I still didn't know what to expect. I just gave them my best.”

And her best on this day means a new performer, a breath of fresh air (which is needed to yodel) will perform in the Valley in 2020 and beyond.

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