The announcement was made last week that “Paul Harris and the Cleverlys,” one of Branson’s most popular and unique shows, will return to the Strip and call the Starlite Theatre,in Branson, home in 2014.
“They’ve got a great team there and we’re real excited about it,” Harris said. “Their specialty is marketing, and that’s what they do best.
“That’s something that we’ve really lacked the last couple of years, so they bring a lot to the table in that aspect, and we’re proud to be there.”
In addition to working with a staff so well versed in marketing, Harris sees the Starlite as prime real estate in Ozark Mountain Country.
“The location of the Starlite is great because some of the other theaters we’ve played in are definitely off the beaten path,” Harris said. “It is very important to have that seat on the front row, if you know what I mean, and it has one of the best locations in town.”
Harris, an Arkansas native, is widely known as a comedian, singer and musician, with tastes ranging from rock to bluegrass, and has been performing in Branson for nearly 20 years.
Having such a long career in the area, Harris has gotten his shows down to a science.
“Next year’s show will still be the same format, but there’s going to be some new material,” he said. “I do stand-up comedy, so I’ll do a 40-minute comedy set of some of my best old stuff and a lot of new stuff I’ve been writing this winter.”
Much like Jeff Foxworthy, who Harris has opened for in the past, he uses his southern charm to tackle nearly every subject there is, but he always walks the line and keeps his show clean.
Once his stand-up is done, Harris is joined by his band to play a few bluegrass tunes before the Cleverlys take over in the second half.
The Cleverlys, Harris’ bluegrass band, started at the bottom and quickly gained a large following when a their cover of the Black Eyed Peas tune “I Gotta Feeling” was posted on YouTube in 2010 and quickly went viral.
To date, the video has been viewed more than 2 million times. They also perform classic and contemporary tunes from artists such as the Zombies, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Flo Rida, Fergie, Beyonce and PSY.
While Harris said the Cleverlys will still perform all the tunes they’re known for, there are a few changes in store for next season.
“We’ve got a hot new bass player we’re excited about, and it’s kind of a new lineup for next year,” he said. “Plus, we’re working on some outside things with the Cleverlys, and man, it’s going to be big and we’re pumped about it because it will only help what we’re trying to do here in Branson.”
Due to the success of the YouTube videos, the group has a massive road following.
“What’s amazing to me is we’ll travel out to California or Virginia and it’ll be a full house of Cleverly fans, or ‘Cleverheads,’ as we like to call them,” Harris said. “Plus, we have a lot of international fans. (Our videos) get views from 30 different countries with some of the biggest being in Brazil, the U.K., Australia and Argentina.
“It really is amazing to see all the Cleverheads across the world.”
Harris said the fans are so passionate, they even dress like members of the band.
“We see these college kids wearing polyester suits and glasses and taco cowboy hats, singing every word to every song,” he said. “It’s just amazing.”
A few years back, Harris started “Cleverly Fest,” a concert event for Cleverheads to get together and enjoy each other’s company as well as the music of their favorite band.
“We didn’t get to do one last year, but we did the two years before,” he said. “Once we did it out on my farm until my wife told me never again.
“The one we did in my home town of Mountain Home, Ark., was a big success, but it’s growing bigger than what I can manage, so we won’t do another until we find the perfect spot.”
Paul Harris & the Cleverlys will start the year off performing on the Wintergrass tour in February before beginning their 2014 season at the Starlite March 14. Harris is booked for 140 select dates through December.