CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Old-style variety shows are hard to come by these days.
Most went off the television back in the 1970s. In the past couple of years, the individual parts (music, jokes and dancing) have sort of resurged through the myriad of talent show contests, but they're not quite the same thing.
To see a real variety show, complete with musical numbers, dance segments and sprinkled with little comedy bits, mostly, you have to go to one of the tourist destinations like Las Vegas, Myrtle Beach or Branson, Mo.
Only a few of these shows even tour, which is what made the appearance by The Duttons Saturday afternoon at the Municipal Auditorium for Charleston Community Music seem so special.
You just don't see that kind of show anywhere very often.
The Duttons are a seven to maybe twenty-something member crew drawn from the Dutton family: That's Mom and Dad Dutton, seven kids, their spouses and 23 grandchildren (so far).
At the Municipal Auditorium, there were maybe 15 or so members of the family in attendance, playing their hearts out, joking around and dancing up a storm.
It was an incredibly slick show and so squeaky clean you could practically eat off their stage.
The Duttons have been performing together professionally for 20 years, clocking in around 300 shows a year either on tour or at one of their two family-owned theaters in Branson or in Mesa, Ariz. and they have their act down cold. They moved like limbs of the same body and their timing together was pretty incredible.
Musically, the material was pretty diverse. They played a little big band, a little early rock 'n' roll, slipped in two soul songs and even a country tune. There was a patriotic number paying tribute to the troops and to veterans. A surprising number of people in the auditorium stood as each branch of the service was recognized.
For most audiences, the music featured in the show might have seemed a little dated. The Duttons played tunes from the 1940s to the early 1980s. All of them were very familiar. Most like Charlie Daniels' "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" were still a lot of fun and, sure, the point of a family-oriented music show is probably to stick to material that people 8 to 80 could more or less sing along to. But honestly, Starship's "We Built This City on Rock and Roll" and Kool and The Gang's "Celebration Time," should both be buried with full honors, but nonetheless buried. Forever.
However...what some may consider stale and moth-eaten, others may see as an enduring classic. Maybe.
Even if a couple of songs seemed a bit worn down to the nub, The Duttons packed them with lots of pizzazz and they were playing for an audience that tends to be a little older.
Regardless, it was a good show. However, attendance was down. The audience for Community Music seemed to be what is typically expected, but there appeared to be fewer seats filled.Reach Bill Lynch at 304-348-5195 or ly...@wvgazette.com