Sunday, April 22, 2018
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20180315 Faith Family Freedom JB IMG 1281The Rio Grande Valley's Winter Texan scene isn't the quiet, gem in the rough secret that it once was.

For the winter visitors, that's a good thing – especially when it comes to entertainment.

More and more Wintertainers™ – as they are affectionately called – are coming to the Valley to entertain Winter Texans. The growth can be attributed to entertainers like Gordy and Debbie who came to the Valley 10 years ago and were an immediate hit. When they returned home, they spread the word and brought some friends down.

While Branson, Mo., a place where many of the visiting entertainers play regularly and is known for its great entertainment, the Valley's Wintertainers™ also come from Nashville and Las Vegas, and from other states where talented individuals, duos or groups are usually looking to escape the gloomy, cold and snowy north.

20180315 RGV Concert Band 2014“I'm sitting here on a patio, overlooking a golf course,” said Blaine Swabb, one half of a musical/comedy group along with his twin brother Brian who are glad to escape the grayness of their hometown Greenville, Ohio, during the winter. “I cannot stand dealing with the snow and ice. I love Ohio in the summer and fall but not winter – not with bare, spooky trees and gray skies.”

The brother duo will spend half their winter in Florida and the rest in Texas, where they will book 20-25 shows in 30 days – that's an example of the popularity of the entertainers who come to perform in the Valley retirement resorts during the winter. It's sort of an underground music scene – except it's not for the college crowd, but for the 55 and above crowd.

Spittin' Image, like so many other Wintertainers™, followed their curiosity after hearing others tell them they just had to visit South Texas. “They told us it was a whole other world,” Swabb said. “They're right. It's absolutely fantastic.”

Dave and Daphne are another huge favorite and were voted the Country Music Duo of the Year by the Valley Star Awards this year.

“We are so thankful to have won that award and we know that's it's because of all the Winter Texans who come out and support us,” Daphne said. “We are thankful that they let us do what we love. If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't be able to do that.”

20180315 VSO ABEL0341Dave and Daphne come from Nashville. He was formerly lead guitar player for Barbara Mandrell and Daphne sang gospel with The Gaithers Homecoming Show. Country legend Roy Clark said Dave Salyer is “one of the most fabulous guitarists on the planet.” His solo repertoire on guitar (or banjo) range from “Orange Blossom Special” to “The Flight of the BumbleBee” and from “Wildwood Flower” to the “William Tell Overture.” He also toured the world with Barbara Mandrell, who says "Dave Salyer is the best guitarist I've ever had.

Daphne Anderson has performed with some of the greatest Southern Gospel groups of all time, including the Bill Gaither Group, the Florida Boys, The Cathedrals, Rex Nelson and more. The Southern Gospel Music Association voted her their Female Vocalist of the Year.

Another immensely popular entertainer is Bill Chrastil, who been voted Male Vocalist of the Year for the past three years as he performs tributes to many of the singers of the 60s such as Tom Jones, Neil Diamond, Willie Nelson and Elvis Presley (and even some Elmer Fudd). In 2018 he was also named the Valley’s Entertainer of the Year for the second straight year.

“Oh my gosh, we absolutely love Bill Chrastil and 4 His Glory,” said Lee Watts, who resides in Twin Lakes RV Park in Mission. “There are so many good groups to go listen to – any kind of music you’re looking for, you can find at one of the parks on any given night. It’s wonderful.”

20180315 Star Awards Leslie Blasing dy 0434 His Glory, an acapella quartet, has burst onto the Rio Grande Valley scene, being named Gospel Musical Group of the Year at this year’s Valley Star Awards Show.
Leslie Blasing is certainly one of the Winter Texans’ favorite entertainers. This talented vocalist was voted Female Vocalist of the Year from 2013 to 2016 and Entertainer of the Year from 2014-2016 in the Valley Star Awards. She calls South Padre Island home and performs many of her shows there.

Also very popular are comedians Bernie and Red, from England via British Columbia, Canada. Billy Droze returns each year for a few select shows. Droze went to school in La Joya then went straight to Nashville and is now a top-notch bluegrass star who has reached No. 1 on the Bluegrass Today Weekly Airlpay Chart with each of his previous three singles.

Goldwing, originally from Oklahoma, performs in the Valley each season to the delight of Winter Texans. The group also performs in Branson. Mario Rosales, who performs in the winter in the Valley, is now playing in Las Vegas. The Richard Lynch Band, from Ohio, comes to perform while they get away from the cold for a couple of weeks. Lynch has written songs that have gone to the top of the Country Music charts. Ralph Kuster and Freddie and Sheila Pelletier are also Canadian performers who come annually to the Valley to entertain, and there are many more excellent entertainers who perform regularly in the RV resorts.

In addition, there are a few of leading resorts, such as Llano Grande Resort, that bring in top shows like the Oakridge Boys. Victoria Palms Resort, which is part of the Encore Group of resorts, brought in the Liverpool Legends, a very talented Beatles tribute band that has since returned each year, booking their own theaters.

20180208 Dale Gayle 2Rusty Rierson, a performer who drove down from Wichita in zero degree weather for his first winter performing in the RGV, also became an instant hit in the Valley and has confirmed he will return next season. He has performed alongside the likes of Sawyer Brown, Dustin Lynch, T. G. Sheppard, Moe Bandy, Bill Gentry and others. His 2012 song "Souvenirs," a project recorded in Nashville with producer Richie Owens, briefly charted on the Music Row Breakout Chart in the U.S. but went No. 1 for four straight weeks on Europe's Country Music Chart, and held off country superstar Toby Keith to the second position the whole time.

The new McAllen Performing Arts Center in McAllen has brought back Broadway shows. They are also brought in well-known entertainers such as Paul Anka and Air Supply, among others.

Many smaller venues such as the Riverside Club bring in live bands to perform, but some of their shows grew so big they had to be moved to the Pharr Convention Center. One of the bigger ones featured Gene Watson, Moe Bandy and friends.

For Winter Texans who prefer to dance, a dance can be found any night of the week in a nearby resort. While most are country western, square, round or ballroom dancing, rock ‘n roll is growing in popularity.

The Rio Grande Valley has come a long way in the past few years in terms of entertainment; there is plenty to keep you as busy as you want to be. Come on down and let us entertain you!

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