Bob Pest

Although the Ozark Gateway is best known as a great place to enjoy outdoor activities such as swimming, fishing, hiking, camping, and biking, it also offers a variety of family-friendly evening activities including comedy, theater, and music. 

The Simply Southern Playhouse Music Theater, located at 201 E. Main Street in the heart of Batesville’s historic downtown, showcases country, bluegrass, and gospel music as part of the regular 2ND Friday Downtown community celebration.  Debbie Cochran, the driving force behind the music venue, is herself a singer, songwriter, and bass player with ties to the Nashville music scene. She and her husband Elmer purchased and renovated one of Main Street’s many historic structures and transformed it into an intimate, comfortable place to enjoy live music.  Local and talent such as Danny Dozier, Randy and Stephanie Wade, David Lynn Jones, Nick Fudge, Allen Steiner (The Singing Cowboy) and Doc and Connie Spurlin (performing with Rusty the Puppet) is featured most of the time, with nationally-known musical talents such as The Kentucky Colonels also taking the stage from time to time.  Debbie sits in on bass and vocals from time to time. She is thinking about focusing on songwriters in the tradition of the legendary Bluebird Café in Nashville.

Doors open at 6:00 p.m.  Seating is limited so early arrival is recommended.  Music begins at 7:00 p.m.  Admission is $5, $2 for children 12 and under. Concessions are available. Ample free parking is available on Main Street. Simply Southern is just a few doors down from Elizabeth’s Restaurant, winner of recent Eye on Independence magazine awards for Best Service and Best Place for a Romantic Dinner. Elizabeth’s is open on Friday evenings at 5:00 p.m. for out-of-town visitors looking to have dinner before the show.

For twenty-eight years, Cash’s White River Hoedown in Mountain View has been known as “The Most Entertaining Show in the Ozarks.”  The fact is there are three separate shows most weeks: The Comedy Show on Thursday features the hilarious Aunt Minnie Miles, brilliantly played by Pat Cash; you may have heard Aunt Minnie’s familiar invitation on radio commercials, “Y’all come down now, hear.”  Aunt Minnie is frequently joined by her friend “Lotta Miles.” Fridays are reserved for Old Time Rock’n’Roll and Saturdays features all kinds of music (pop, rock, country, bluegrass, and gospel).  Cash’s house band includes Brenda “Bear” Barnett on bass; Zendel Rainey, son of famous song writer and performer Wayne Rainey, on piano and harmonica; Tom Arnold on drums; Sandra Rhodes on lead guitar and vocals; and String Bean on drums and tub-bass as well as joining in on many of the comedy skits.

Sandra Rhodes is a member of the famous Rhodes Family Band; her sister Donna is a regular on television’s Nashville Now. Donna makes regular appearances at Cash’s to sing with her sister; Donna and Sandra were nominated for a Grammy for their album, The Lonesome Rhodes.

Cash’s White River Hoedown provides a full evening of family entertainment. It is easy to find on Highways 5, 9, and 14 North in Mountain View and within easy walking distance of several restaurants. Tickets are priced at $18 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $5 for children 16 and under. The Ticket Office opens daily at 10:00 a.m. For more information, visit or call 1-800-759-6764.

The Horseshoe Bend Theatre is the home of the music and variety show “Music in the Mountains,” held every Saturday third evening at 6:00 p.m. Founder and director Melodie Clemmons uses her extensive experience staging country and western variety shows to create outstanding monthly shows which she hosts.  She is also a member of Hwy. 289 Band featuring Dr. Ronald Yow, Bob McCarty, Chuck McNeight, Brenda Doty and Jim Frey.  The “house band” is a regular feature. Local and regional talent shares the stage. Clemmons is committed to offering a variety of music including gospel, bluegrass, country, blues, and rock.  Up and coming musical talent such as the Cobb Brothers, three teenage brothers from Mountain View, have demonstrated their bluegrass skills at “Music in the Mountains.”

The Horseshoe Bend Theatre is located at 811 Second Street #16 in the Lower Diamond B Mall. Admission is free but donations are accepted and encouraged. Concessions are available. For information call 870-373-3303 or email

The Imperial Dinner Theatre, located at 1401 Highway 304 East in Pocahontas, was severely damaged by spring flooding. The theatre, founded in 1994, began operating in 1995 the old Imperial Movie House downtown. Their initial success enabled the organization to construct a new state of the art theatrical and educational facility; the

new theatre opened at its new location in 2004. Since then it has established itself as one of the state’s outstanding community arts organizations, offering Broadway shows, musical reviews, and hilarious melodramas accompanied by taste-tempting dinners. Among the many shows that have been presented at the Imperial are Grease, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Midsummer’s Night Dream.  Since the flood shows have been taken on the road with great success. The organization is well on its way in the reconstruction process. To find out when they will re-open check or call 870-892-0030.


Another evening entertainment opportunity is the Randolph Music Theater, located just off the square in Pocahontas, featuring Bluegrass, Southern Gospel, and Traditional Country music with special guests like the famous Chuck Wagon Gang. For information, visit or call 870-248-0186.


Hardy is the home of two live music venues. The CreekSide Loft, located at 111 Woodland Hills at the north end of downtown, features the popular Gray’s Blues Band and other guest artists on the third Friday of every month.  Dinner is also served. Call 870-856-2113 for information or reservations or visit  About a mile away at 201 North Spring Street you’ll find the cozy and eclectic Words & Afterwords, a combination bookstore, coffee shop, and eatery that also features live music throughout the week. Local talent like Douglas Deforest and touring musicians share the stage on Friday and Saturday; Thursday night is Open Mic and all comers are welcome. The café serves gourmet wraps, Panini sandwiches, Greek pasta and salads, homemade hummus, and other savory dishes complemented by wonderful coffee, espresso, cappuccino, lattes, and frappuccinos.  Information about upcoming entertainment can be found at  


Calico Rock is home to the Calico Rock Music Hall at 101 W. 1st Street. Local and touring acts perform on an irregular basis. The Blackberry Bushes String Band, popular everywhere from Nashville and Asheville to Seattle, will be performing on October 14 at 7:00 p.m. For ticket information go to  If you are looking for a great place to eat, try Don Quixote’s, one of my personal favorites, also on Main Street.


There are also many private clubs, bars, and coffee houses in the Ozark Gateway that also feature live music and entertainment. For information, check with the local chamber of commerce, newspaper, or visitor’s center; email; visit; or call 1-800-264-0316. It is always a good idea to make sure an event has not been cancelled before driving a significant distance.


Drive safely, eat healthy, and enjoy yourself!