Missouri Boatride brings Branson bluegrass to The Falls

March 12, 2014 

By Patrick Kuhl


You've probably heard Roger Miller's "King of the Road" and the Beatles "I've Just Seen a Face" before.

But you've never heard them like Branson, Mo.-based The Missouri Boatride will play them Saturday at The Falls Reception and Conference Center in Columbia.

"We bluegrass them," said Larry Siffford, former Columbia resident and bass player. "And audiences love it."

The five-piece band plays songs by rock and country artists such as the Eagles, the Beatles, the Allman Brothers and Roger Miller, but with with bluegrass instruments.

"We know that not everyone in the audience is a traditional bluegrass fan," he said. "We play them with banjo and fiddle rolls, and they come out pretty good."

You will hear those, some original bluegrass and comedy when Sifford and his band perform Saturday at the dinner show at The Falls, along with The Pickin' Chicks. Dinner will be served at 6 p.m. and the bands take the stage at 7. Tickets are $35 per person. Reservations are required at 618-281-3255.

Sifford was born and raised in the Missouri Ozarks, but moved with his family to Columbia in the early 1960s. Larry graduated from Columbia High School, and married local girl Judy Stumpf. They have two sons, Justin and Ryan.

The Siffords lived in Columbia until 1983 when they moved back to Larry's roots in the Ozarks.

"We wanted our sons to be raised in that Ozarks environment and be exposed to that good ol' Ozark Mountain music."

The Missouri Boatride was formed in the late 1990s when a group of family and neighbors began "jamming." Their instrumental and vocal talents soon drew requests to perform in public. Through the years, they have performed at Branson's American Star, silver Dollar city and throughout the Branson area.

Besides Sifford on bass, the band includes:

* Dean Webb on Mandolin. Webb is known for six guest appearances on the "Andy Griffith Show" as one of the Darling Family. He has toured nationally with the bluegrass group The Dillards and has performed at Carnegie Hall. Webb was inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame at Ryan Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn., in 1999.

* Sifford's son, Justin Sifford on guitar, vocals and comedy. He was emcee and performed comedy at the Grand Country Comedy Jamboree for five years and performed with the Sons of the Pioneers at Shepherd of the Hills Homestead.

* Bob Gideon on banjo. He has performed at Silver Dollar City and Branson venues.

* Dennis Pritchard on fiddle. He has performed at Silver Dollar City and the Shepherd of the Hills Homestead.

"We are an entertainers, not just a musical act," Sifford said. "Our show contains a lot of comedy, too."

The Pickin' Chicks, from Southern Illinois, play bluegrass, country and gospel music. They are known for their light vocal harmonies and instrumental skills.

Band members include guitarist Mallory Wanecke, of New Athens, who also is the lead singer, emcee and tells jokes; Mallory's sister Nicki on banjo and upright bass; and Paige Johnson, of Evansville, lead fiddle and many other instruments.

But they have played at Rockhome Gardens, Silver Dollar City and Branson. They opened for the 2011 Willie Nelson Country Showdown and won best youth vocal group at the 2011 Illinois States Fair.

What: Ozark Mountain Music dinner show

Who: The Missour Boatride and The Pickin' Chicks

When: Doors open at 6 p.m. for the dinner buffer; show starts at 7.

Where: The Falls Reception and Conference Center, 300 Admiral Weinel Blvd., Columbia.

Tickets are $35.

Reservations: required by calling 618-281-3255 or order at seethefalls.com

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