We got an exclusive post-show interview with Michael, Catherine, Patrick, and Matthew of The Haygoods after their spectacular show at The Clay Cooper Theatre. With their angelic harmonies and multi-instrumental performance, The Haygoods have been performing in Branson since 1993 and the show continues to grow and transform each year.
Q: It’s only early March and it’s amazing you’re already selling out The Clay Cooper Theatre. How many times did you sell out last year?
Michael: It was about 60 times last year. Honestly, what we’re more thrilled about is all the families coming to Branson, Silver Dollar City continues to grow, and our summer is looking real strong. We think we’re pushing the envelope with the show and families have been responding favorably. We’re just thrilled to see a younger demographic enjoying shows in Branson.
Q: What do you attribute your success to in becoming a cornerstone of Branson?
Michael: Silver Dollar City was very gracious to us in our early years. Our fiddles weren’t always in tune 20 years ago in 1993. (Laughing) So I’d have to say Silver Dollar City was a great inspiration to us in allowing us to grow. We spent ten years with them and played in all their different theatres and parks. They were really nice to kind of mold us, to teach us how to build shows. So when we were able to finally jump to the script, we had a ten-year foundation that’s attributed to the Herschend Family and Silver Dollar City.
Q: What got you started and interested in reality shows and television?
Michael: Reality TV shows the world what we’re about, that we are really passionate about what we’re doing. This is great family entertainment, and so you combine that with our natural love of life. We’re into a lot of over-the-top sports like skydiving, we love being out on the lake, we’re all outdoor adventure seekers. We’re private pilots and out flying airplanes. A real natural love of life. So when you throw all that in the mix, out comes a very contagious idea of, “Hey, these guys are fun, they’re exciting”. We’ve actually found a lot of the television stuff fortunately coming to us and we’ve been able to say yes in promoting living a good life and having a great time. We’ve been very blessed in that aspect.
Patrick: The cool thing with the reality TV show is we’re able to show off the Ozarks, we’re able to show off Branson, and all the natural, beautiful things about the area. The beautiful theatres with the different shows…were not the only great show in Branson! There are other entertainers in town doing a reality show, too. We’ve recently done some reality stuff with Barry Williams, but more than anything it’s really nice to show off the Ozarks. It’s a wonderful community to be a part of, truly.
Q: How has the show changed over time?
Catherine: We’ve always enjoyed the outdoors and adventure. We just want to show everybody what Branson’s all about and we love what we do. Every year we want to show that we can do something different. We get kind of bored with the show after just a couple months and it’s like, “Let’s do the new song!” We have fans that come back continuously and we want to show them something a little bit different each time they come.
Q: How many different instruments do you play altogether?
Michael: Probably a total of 12 or 13. Catherine’s really got the bulk of that one covered, Catherine: I play six. Piano, violin, saxophone, guitar, harp and drums.
Q: What’s your favorite?
Catherine: The harp of course! None of the other guys play it! Got the market covered.
Q: You’ve been playing together for a long time. Your parents and grandfather all had big influences on your musical career. As far as established musical artists, who was your biggest influence growing up?
Patrick: Garth Brooks. I was in Ireland and he was just killing it. I was absolutely inspired and said I want to perform like that guy. He was lovin’ life, full of energy.
Matthew: I’d probably have to say Jason Mraz. He creates this incredible feeling and you could just feel his love coming off the stage. That’s how I want people to feel when they watch our show.
Catherine: I’m a big fan of Carrie Underwood because of the messages in her songs and her powerful voice. She draws people in and I learn from the way she just puts herself on stage.
Michael: A couple of my favorites are Bruno Mars, Mumford and Sons. Michael Buble mainly because of his incredible vocals but also for his amazing ability to draw people in, and he really seems humble and down to earth. That’s what I love to see in artists, just good to sit down and have a conversation with someone down to earth.
Q: What are your hobbies outside the show?
Patrick: I’m a skydiver and a private pilot. I’m that guy, jumped out of a helicopter last week actually. Chopper charters over Branson - loved it!
Catherine: I’m the one that likes going to movies, and playing it safe. I’m the one watching them jump out of airplanes. (Laughing)
Matthew: I’m pretty much a straight-up outdoorsman. I’ll grab a backpack and you won’t see me for a week.
Q: You guys have been here in Branson for quite a few years. What advice would you give to aspiring artists and entertainers in Branson?
Michael: Take every opportunity you can to get onstage, with no strings attached. Sing at church, sing at your school, get involved to where you can just practice your craft and not have to pay the bills. Singing at church is one of the best things to do. Go to a nursing home and do whatever it takes. Take every opportunity to follow your dream, and don’t be naïve enough to think you’ve just got to get onstage and make lots of money and then practice. That’s not it. Practice your craft at every opportunity and success will come to you. Just make it good and follow your heart.
Q: Who’s your favorite performer you’ve played with?
Michael: We’ve had a really cool opportunity to perform with Maria McCormack, of course I mentioned Barry Williams, and Jim Stafford. Jim’s been really cool to us, and he’s a really great guy. I love hanging with Clay Cooper, it’s a lot of fun jamming onstage with Clay.
Q: How would you describe your show for someone who’s never seen it before?
Michael: Our show is a young twist on a futuristic Branson (with old-school savers). We want to entertain the crowd visually as well as keep the volume at a great area that’s impactful, but still be able to bring it down and play the banjo. We play some bluegrass and a little bit of gospel too, because that’s where we came from. But at the end of the show you better bet we’re going to set off some fire and let our laser do its thing and make it a young show.
Q: Final question: Who would you say is the ham of the group?
Catherine: I would say Timothy, Banjo Boy, for sure. He hams it up!
Michael: The guy that rides out on electric coolers [Timothy] and comes out in short-shorts with cowboy boots on. (Laughing) We all like to have fun.