Doofus Doolittle, Branson’s Funniest Fiddler, is coming to the Englert. (Here’s how you need to say that name to get the full effect. Draw out the “Doofus Doolittle”, taking a full two seconds to get it out. Take the volume up a notch on the “Branson’s”, then spit out “Funniest Fiddler” as fast as you can. Like this. Doo-fus Doo-lit-tle, Branson’s FunniestFiddler.) Now, I imagine if you had told the community that one of the acts brought to town in the Englert’s first season would be Doo-fus Doo-lit-tle, Branson’s FunniestFiddler, I – well, I can’t imagine what the response would have been.
Fun Fact 1: Doo-fus Doo-lit-tle, Branson’s FunniestFiddler, is the great-grandson of Eliza Doolittle and the son of James Doolittle. According to his bio, exposure to the Fat Man (or was it Little Boy?) warped James Doolittle’s DNA, making Doofus a Doofus. And a funny fiddler. Fun Fact 2: None of that is true.
Not that I have anything against Branson. We spent a week in Branson last summer with my mom and my older sister’s family and my younger sister’s family, and we had a blast. Branson has some great theme parks, and I loves the theme parks. Seriously. I love theme parks. And there’s good boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, and lots of rural arts and crafts to be found. And some fine food. But the worst part of Branson are the stage acts – thankfully, Ethan wouldn’t sit still when we went to see Ray Stevens and Lesa and I were able to book out early. So although there are many good things about Branson, the stage shows aren’t one of them. You see all of them advertised as you drive up and down the main strip, big billboards and big theatres for all of Branson’s stars.
Although now that I mention it, I never saw one for Doo-fus Doo-lit-tle, Branson’s FunniestFiddler. So maybe he isn’t really Branson’s FunniestFiddler. Maybe he’s a fraud, and the reason he plays shows outside of Branson is because Branson’s real FunniestFiddler, whoever that might be, won’t let him show his lying doofus face around Branson. Something to think about.
In other Englert bookings, Steve Jepson performed there last weekend. Now the people who saw him probably thought of him as a decent baritone with many appearances in many operas around the world. But anyone who was in the Hawkeye Marching Band from 1978-1981 or so (like I was) know him as one of the most annoying human beings ever to grace the planet. They (like I), know him as an egotistical twit, the sort of guy who probably Googles his name once a day to see what people are saying about him. (Hi Steve!) Why the Englert booked him I’ll never know – probably just another sign that Kerchner had no clue what Iowa City was about. (And Steve, if you are reading this - all those times when the saxophone section would yell "Shut Up, Jepson"? That wasn't done in playful fun. We really wanted you to shut up. But you never did.) As for Doo-fus Doo-lit-tle, Branson’s FunniestFiddler – that was probably another of Kerchner’s little farewell presents to Iowa City.
In the interest of fairness, the Del McCoury Band is playing at the Englert this (Thursday, April 14th) evening. If you like bluegrass, and I’m probably the only one reading or writing here that does, and you don’t have family obligations preventing you from going to see a concert at the last minute, you should see Del McCoury. He’s great.