Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: ‘Daddy D’s Drive-Up Dinner Show’ hits it off in Green Bay

Critic At Large

Daddy D Productions

Shelly Johnson, from left, Cody Borley, Darren Johnson, Ryan Sette and Kevin Van Ess perform Wednesday in a Daddy D Productions dinner show in the parking lot of Riverside Ballroom. (Warren Gerds)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – A dinner show in a parking lot.

Some of the entertainers run the check-in and direct parking, with help of a few volunteers.

A few entertainers help pass out the dinners.

And then they get up on stage, sing, play instruments, tell stories, tell jokes… and in the end, offer a song honoring soldiers that leads into “America the Beautiful,” sung to an audience that has stood of its own accord out of inspiration.

An old song goes, “They paved paradise to put up a parking lot.” Well, Wednesday evening, a parking lot became not a paradise but an oasis from the drubbing we’ve been taking from the coronavirus COVID-19.

For a few hours, there was pleasure to be had – masks on, social distancing in place and other rules followed.

A joke during the evening was the audience was “spaced out.”

Daddy D Productions and Riverside Ballroom put on “Daddy D’s Drive-Up Dinner Show.”

Darren Johnson’s Daddy D Productions show troupe of Green Bay provided the music, and Ken Tedford’s Riverside Ballroom provided a little bar and the trademark broasted chicken dinners, boxed up and wheeled out to a sold-out “house” of 50 cars and 100-something people from kids on up.

Darren Johnson prior to show by his namesake Daddy D Productions. (Warren Gerds)

Word of the show popped up late last week when the weather forecast was good for mid-week this week. The Wednesday event quickly sold out, so a Thursday performance was added, which also sold out.

The weather has cooperated for what could be called Eager Mini-Fest – so eagerly mounted and attended.

Even the sound check Wednesday evening was cause for celebration. After tuning up with “Feelin’ Alright,” Darren Johnson told the audience, “I’m so glad to be singing for you folks – safely, funly, socially. Let’s do this!”

The entertainers perform on a small professional stage from the Riverside Ballroom that Daddy D’s sound man Dan Collins added amplifiers, etc. to. He also set up a frequency, 103.5 FM, for listening on car radios, though the sound carries very well from the stage.

The “fest” is of selections in the Daddy D Productions wheelhouse – hits from a ’50s-’70s heyday along with other meaningful material.

Classics include “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “I Will Always Love You” and “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

An interpretation of “Amazing Grace” is offered by master clarinetist Kevin Van Ess with his irrepressible flair – not mournfully but with a grace of rhythmic enjoyment.

The show includes fun, like the Archie and Edith Bunker duet of “Those Were the Days” with Shelly Johnson providing Edith’s squawking/singing. And like Shelly Johnson peeling off a teasing version of “Stand By Your Man” – “Hog Tie Your Man.”

The Riverside Ballroom slopes at an angle to create an amphitheater. Arcing on the edge is the tree-lined East River. The natural setting provided a passing majestic heron as Darren Johnson spoke of a coming engagement (when the coronavirus dust settles) for he and his wife, Shelly Johnson, at the Majestic Theatre in Branson, Missouri.

Darren Johnson also spoke of COVID-caused schedule changes for the troupe’s season.

For a few hours Wednesday, such worries were a world away. That’s entertainment.



Darren Johnson, vocals and guitar

Shelly Johnson, vocals

Kevin Van Ess, saxophone and clarinet

Cody Borley, drums

Ryan Sette, guitar and vocal

Dan Collins, sound

Running time: One hour, 35 minutes

Remaining performance: Aug. 6 – SOLD OUT




Part I

“Folsom Prison Blues” – Darren Johnson

“I’ve Been Everywhere” – Darren Johnson

“Those Were the Days” – Darren Johnson, Shelly Johnson

Saxophone solo – Kevin Van Ess

“Oh Boy” (Buddy Holly) – Darren Johnson

“Heavenly Day” medley including “We Belong Together,” “Donna,” “Silhouettes on the Shade” – Darren Johnson

Darren Johnson traveling in Mexico story

“Come a Little Bit Closer” – Darren Johnson

“Ventura Highway” – Darren Johnson, Shelly Johnson

“I Will Always Love You” – Shelly Johnson

“Hot Rod Lincoln” – Ryan Sette

“Roll Out the Barrel” – Darren Johnson

Part II

“Will the Circle Be Unbroken” – Darren Johnson, Shelly Johnson

“Amazing Grace” – Kevin Van Ess clarinet solo

“When the Saints Go Marching In” with Kevin Van Ess – Darren Johnson, Shelly Johnson

“Angel from Montgomery” (John Prine) – Shelly Johnson

“Stop Children What’s That Sound” – Darren Johnson

“Hog Tie Your Man” to “Stand by Your Man” – Shelly Johnson

“I Will Survive” – Shelly Johnson

Military Tribute: “Travelin’ Soldier” – Shelly Johnson

“America the Beautiful” Darren Johnson, Shelly Johnson

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss

Coronavirus News

More Coronavirus

Trending Stories

Your Local Election HQ

More Election

Local Sports

Kimberly boys and girls volleyball teams prepare for sectional showdowns

Blizzard preps for 2021 season

Game of the Week: Notre Dame wins instant classic on late field goal

High School Sports Xtra: Extended interview with state swimming champ Brigitta Neverman

Appleton's AJ Powell gets Masters experience at Drive, Chip, & Putt

High School Volleyball Regionals: Appleton North girls, boys advance