The Duttons perform at Bicentennial Ball
On Aug. 10, 1821, Missouri became the 24th state in the union. In honor of the state’s 200th Anniversary, the office of Governor Mike Parson hosted a Bicentennial Inaugural Ball on Saturday, Sept. 18 at the Missouri State Capitol, for which Branson’s own The Duttons were invited to perform as the evenings headlining entertainment.
The Duttons Co-CEO, Mother and Grandmother Sheila Dutton said the credit for their invitation to the ball must go to the governor himself.
“We were told by his staff, when they called and talked to us about to see if we could do it, that they normally look at artists out of Nashville,” Dutton said. “Governor Parson likes country music and he likes bluegrass, so someone suggested to him, ‘Why don’t we look at having someone from Missouri here this time’ and he thought that was a great idea. He absolutely loved the family idea, so he’s big on family. He wanted a blend of music and somebody who could do some country and bluegrass, but not exclusively that. They showed him some clips and he picked out The Duttons.”
Though the invitation was a surprise and the idea of performing at such a historic event was slightly daunting, Dutton said they were incredibly honored to be chosen.
“It was an absolutely magnificent experience,” Dutton said. “Just the setting at the capitol building, that majestic building and the way it was lit up. Everything about it was magical I thought.”
Throughout the evening The Duttons were tasked with navigating four separate performances, each one different and more unique than the last. Dutton said the family’s ability to be versatile and provide the appropriate music at the correct periods of the evening also contributed to why The Duttons were selected for the occasion.
“We could do everything they wanted us to do. We sang the national anthem. We did quartet music for the first hour and half…and we did the two shows. The first one started with Governor Parson and his wife walking onto the dance floor. That first show started with the ‘Missouri Waltz,’” Dutton said. “Then we did a second show as soon as the fireworks ended. That was fun in a different way, because people kind of let their hair down and we did really fun music. People stayed and danced through the whole thing.
“It also had a family element to it I thought, because you’d see these families of all these dignitaries there and you saw parents dancing with their kids. Little girls in their gowns and all done up cute. That was right in front of the stage I noticed that going and then behind them on the dance floor you had a lot of adults doing dancing and having a good time.”
The Bicentennial Inaugural Ball was hosted on the north lawn of the Missouri State Capitol. Following The Duttons’ performance of the national anthem, the event began with a grand march, featuring the introduction of all the state legislators and elected officials. The processional concluded with the introduction of Governor Parson, his wife and their family, after which the Parsons took to the dance platform to dance to the “Missouri Waltz,” a piece Dutton said they had to learn and perfect in an incredibly short amount of time.
“When the children were very young, they would enter fiddle contests, and for the fiddle contests you do a hoedown and a waltz in a tune of choice, so there were a lot of waltzes that the kids had learned early in their musical life,” Dutton said. “However, the ‘Missouri Waltz’ was not one we had heard of, so when they requested we play that we of course looked that up and we just loved it. It’s a beautiful waltz and I thought Jessica sounded so nice singing the song. I personally was just very enthralled with the waltz and glad we finally learned it.”
While some extra preparation went into the learning of the “Missouri Waltz,” as well as the quartet performances, Dutton said being on stage in front of an audience of influential and notable individuals was nothing new for them.
“We’re not strangers to having to play under pressure as you know. We were on ‘America’s Got Talent’ and that was playing for the whole nation, which was a little daunting,” Dutton said. “We were on ‘America’s Most Musical Family’ and we’ve done other dignitary situations as well. We’ve played in Washington D.C., not for the president, but for different events there.”
Dutton said the evening included a number of memorable moments, but there was one moment in particular that stands above all the rest. When the fireworks began at 9 p.m., a member of the governor’s security detail informed the family the governor wanted a moment with them. A short time later the Parsons came to the stage to greet The Duttons.
“He had his detail keeping everybody else back, so they weren’t crowding around him so he could just spend those few minutes with our family. It meant a lot to me. The things he said meant a lot to me,” Dutton said. “He just immediately acted like an old friend and opened up his heart. He talked about how hard it’s been and the burdens of the office and we were able to express our support and love and how much we liked him. I feel like he’s a friend now and that was very special.”
Following the event, Show Director Amy Dutton also shared what it meant to her for the family to provide the entertainment for the evening.
“We had such a blast at the Governor’s Inaugural Ball. It was such an honor to be asked to play. What was amazing is how well it went. We are not a dance band, but the crowd was dancing the whole time. It was so much fun. We totally rocked it,” Amy Dutton said. “The governor absolutely loved us. He said that he loved the Duttons. He specifically requested us. He didn’t care that we aren’t a dance band. He knew what he wanted and stuck with it. We played for four hours. I’m sore and exhausted, but very happy with how everything went.”
Earlier in the day on Saturday, the governor’s office hosted the Bicentennial Inaugural Parade in Jefferson City. The parade was held to both celebrate the swearing-in of Missouri’s elected officials from this year’s Bicentennial Inauguration, as well as to highlight the 200 year history of the state of Missouri.
Inside the Missouri State Capitol, various community engagement items were on display throughout the day including the Missouri Bicentennial Quilt, Missouri State Parks Quilt, Missouri Bicentennial Mural and championship trophies won by Missouri sports teams.
Showtimes for The Duttons in Branson are at 2 and 8 p.m. on select days. Visit theduttons.com/branson.