Duttons celebrate 20 years of making music

30 Nov

If Tim Dutton’s mom would have had her way, he would have spent much of his youth working on the farm and developing a strong work ethic.
Lucky for Tim and his performing siblings, his mom’s dream of a farm life never came to pass. Instead the Dutton clan spent their youth plucking violin strings, not picking corn.
“Mom saw the farm kids and how hard they worked,” he said. “She actually wanted us to have a farm, but we didn’t live where we could, so they found a violin and we stared learning classical music.”
Learning the violin at 4 years old, Tim said, was his mom’s way in instilling discipline and a good work ethic in her young son and his brothers and sisters.
“We would get up in the morning and Mom and Dad would practice with us and help us make sure we did it, even though we didn’t want to,” Tim said. “That was our chore every day. That’s where we stared learning music.”
The Dutton Family in 2010 is celebrating 20 years of performing together. During their two decades singing, dancing and entertaining crowds across the country, the six performing brothers and sisters and their equally talented spouses have attracted a large fan following and built a Branson entertainment complex — which includes a theater, motor lodge and Tourist Trap gift shop. The family hits the road for Arizona in the winter and rarely takes time off for rest and relaxation.
Just for fun
The Duttons in 2007 gained national acclaim when tabbed as finalists on “America’s Got Talent.” Although they didn’t take the top prize, the experience, Tim said, was “fantastic.”
“I think the fact that we are of a caliber that we were on ‘America’s Got Talent’ is a good draw for us,” Tim said.  “In fact, the producers at NBC called us and ask us to audition for the show. Out of all the shows in Branson, we are the only one that has made it all the way to the top 10.”
During the Duttons’ run on “AGT” he said judges Piers Morgan, Sharon Osbourne and David Hasselhoff were great to work with. But, it was the show’s host that made the biggest impression on the family.
Jerry Springer was the emcee at that time and he was a real breath of fresh air and really fun to hang out with and get to know,” he said. “In fact, we ended up getting his home phone number and he invited us to come over sometime. He said the best thing that he could wish us is to never be on his regular TV show.”
Initially trained to play classical music on violin, the Duttons soon started learning bluegrass and moved on to other musical genres and other instruments.
“I was about 10 when we stared bluegrass and it went from there,” Tim said. “We started at home and then at church and doing community things for free. Then we started getting $25 for gas money and it just grew little by little until we were performing on the road full time by 1991. We went on a tour with over 300 shows and didn’t go back home for nine full months.”
Tim said that even after performing together for more than two decades, the family enjoys the time they spend with each other.
“Being so close together all the time, we’ve learned to work with each other and to work through arguments and problems,” Tim said. “We will even do activities and fun things with each other outside of work.”
Family affair
Everyone in the family lends a hand with the show and operating the family’s interests:
* Tim, 37, performs on stage and his wife, Judith, handles sales for the theater.
* Jonathan, 35, performs and manages technical operations for the theater. His wife Belle is a dancer and is heavily involved in another Dutton production, “Island Fire,” which runs at the theater during the summer season.
* Amy, 36, serves as stage manager for the family show and is a world-class violinist.
* Benjamin, 33, is the resident comedian, plays cello and handles marketing for the family. His wife, Brande, according to the Duttons’ Web site, is “in charge of production of the ‘World Famous Dutton Fudge.’”
* Abigail, 31, performs in the show, manages the theater’s operation, the gift shop and plays violin and banjo. Her husband, Adam, works with video production for the family.
* Joshua, 29, plays the drums and other instruments and manages the Dutton’s hotel. Evette, his wife, is a vocalist and plays bass and piano.
* Mom, Sheila, and dad, Dean, serve as CEO and CFO respectively.
While the Dutton kids all started playing violin at a young age, they weren’t always the polished performers they are today.
“When we were very young we were all instrumental and didn’t sing much, “ Tim joked. “We didn’t sound very good at first. So we’ve worked really hard over the years at the singing and the stage presence and the movement. As really young kids we would be somewhat stiff and unnatural on stage at times. Now, it’s just second nature and so enjoyable. The way the audience responds and gets so excited and into the show, it’s easy for us to enjoy ourselves on-stage. I think that we’ve really come a long way since we were young performers.”

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