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Black Oak Mountain Amphitheater is located in Lampe, a small town south of Kimberling City.
The amphitheater, which was originally built in 1983, was re-opened this year under new ownership and management.
Steven White is the general manager of the operation. Prior to his time at Black Oak, he produced and promoted concerts for six years in Oklahoma.
He said that the current owner bought the amphitheater in 2009 and soon began renovations.
“Everything has been newly constructed, renovated or refurbished,” White said.
One of the many pieces of new construction was a new women’s restroom.
“If a lady has to go to a dirty bathroom with a long line, she’s going to want to leave,” White said. “We are supplying nice bathrooms that are clean and well-stocked.”
The amphitheater was originally named the “Swiss Villa.” When it changed hands sometime in the early 1990s, the name was changed to Black Oak Mountain Amphitheater.
The venue then changed owners several times before sitting empty for 10 years.
According to a history by the city of Branson West, “The Swiss Villa Amphitheater at Lampe brought renowned musicians into the area to perform before sold out audiences. This was an important development to the area as some of the musicians fell in love with the region and returned to open their own theaters in Branson.”
“Once again, due to the geographic location of Branson West many of the guests attending these attractions were required to pass through the city.”
The re-opening of the theater has kept the staff busy, but focused.
“It’s a busy time here at Black Oak,” White said. “We’re bringing in acts that everyone will recognize.”
White said that the management has been very careful in picking which bands or artists to book.
“We have to pick ones that would have a respectable crowd come,” he said. “We haven’t done any heavy metal bands, but we do know some people want to see them, so we’ll look at putting them on the schedule next year.”
The season started out May 30 with Lee Greenwood and John Michael Montgomery, followed by Travis Tritt and Tanya Tucker on June 11.
Last weekend, Kansas, Styx and Foreigner made an appearance.
“We had a very big crowd for that show,” White said.
REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar and Keaton Simons will play at the venue tonight (Thursday).
“I may have made a mistake, placing two rock shows in the same pay period for most people,” White said. “However, I had the chance to book REO back in February and I took it.”
White said he has been told that REO Speedwagon may hold the attendance record for a concert at Black Oak, with a crowd somewhere around 13,000 in the 1980s.
“I knew they had a history of having a good crowd here,” he said.
White said that the show will be very exciting, with a 40-foot video board and many other features.
“It will be one of the biggest shows to hit the Ozarks,” he said.
He said that the amphitheater will be one of the smallest venues that the bands will play at.
“It will be an intimate show,” he said. “As intimate as it can be with 7,000 of your best friends.”
Although the venue is smaller, the show will be very similar to those played in bigger cities.
The venue has heavily relied on Nitty Gritty Dirt Band member John McEuen to help book acts.
“He’s been in the entertainment business for 45 years, so he has all those years of relationships with agents and artists,” White said. “It’s easy for him to get the ball rolling.
McEuen and White have worked closely to get a variety of acts at Black Oak.
“We’ve had some blues, some bluegrass, some country and some rock,” White said.
The natural acoustics of the location make it a prime location for concerts, White said.
Tickets are sold for benches and grass seating, similar to what would be found at a music festival.
“We wanted to give notice to people this year that there are big-name acts here in the Ozarks,” White said. “We like to say that we are the premier venue for live music in this area.”
Reflections is a weekly column exploring the history of Douglas County. This summer, we will be exploring local wedding destinations, fireworks celebrations and day trips. If you have an idea for an article, please call 417-683-4181 or e-mail email@example.com