2016: The Year of Dolly
Fans of all ages gathered Friday night to see an icon, Ms. Dolly Parton, kick off her brand new tour. Once you were inside and found your seat, you saw three white curtains draped across the stage. Around 7:45, the coliseum went black and the fans roared as you heard the sound of crickets and fireflies coming from the speakers. Fans started to chant, “Dolly, Dolly, Dolly.” The middle curtain dropped as Dolly appeared in a shimmering dress and headed toward the front of the stage.
She started to strap on an acoustic guitar as she told us, “I have a new album coming out in a few weeks” titled Pure and Simple (which is also the name of the tour). She then played the title song off the album, “Pure and Simple.” From there we entered a singalong of old favorites including, “Why’d You Come In Here Lookin’ Like That,” “Jolene,” “My Tennessee Mountain Home,” and “Coat of Many Colors.” With each track she would stop and tell us a short story along with it, from her life growing up to her love life. Most of her songs circled around her family; her mother, father, and grandfather in particular. She told us stories of growing up in the smokies, from her Grandfather’s church to her father going up to Detroit to work in a factory. The moral of her stories, “If you’re blessed with good parents, that is one of the greatest gifts God can give you.”
Is there any instrument Parton does not play? She went through a good dozen instruments in Greensboro. As she started into “Rocky Top” the crowd stood to their feet and started clapping along. Right as the solo hit she yelled, “Eat your heart out, Alison Krauss” and finished a violin solo before picking a saxophone up for an additional solo.
During “Banks of the Ohio” their seemed to be some kind a brief glitch at the soundboard that put a loud static across the speakers for a few seconds, but Parton handled it like a pure professional. She just kept singing like nothing happened. After the song, she took a second to ask- “What was that big roar?” But then continued on with her stories. She said, “sometimes it seems like the whole world is going crazy.” I was thinking about the old protest songs in the sixties and all the love, LSD, and STD’s. As the crowd laughed, she exclaimed “I’m thinking about running for President myself, what do you think?!” The crowd roared with excitement as she went into a short of “American Pie” (Don McLean cover). She also shared with us about her movie she did last winter called, “Coat Of Many Colors” and to follow up, this winter there will be “Christmas of many colors.” She played “I’ll Fly Away” as we went into a short intermission.
Parton came back out on fire in a shimmering red pantsuit and an electric guitar strapped on as she strum into “Baby I’m Burning” and exclaimed, “Eat your heart out Joan Jett!” She played another new track for us off her upcoming album, Pure and Simple, titled “Outside Your Door” before heading up to her piano. The track was originally written as a bluegrass track, but was covered by Norah Jones on the piano and really inspired her to do the same.
Not only is Parton out on a full tour, have a new album coming out, and a new movie but also has an additional 21 songs coming out in September on Trio III. The Trio refers to Parton and her supergroup of Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris. Their first release was back in 1987, followed by Trio II in 1999. Her band settled in up front with her to fill in for Ronstadt and Harris as they performed a few tracks from the album. They kicked things back up into full gear with “Two Doors Down” as the crowd stood back up to their feet. When the time came for the final song of the night everyone knew exactly what song it was going to be.
Upon the first strum, everyone was on their feet and singing “9 to 5” right back at Parton. Afterwords, she went back behind one of the curtains for a few seconds and then came back out, “This is what they call an encore, but you knew I had to come back just to sing this song. I thank God everyday that my dreams came true. I have always loved all my fans, I do not care if you are gay, straight, or transgender. I love you- all of you, and I’d like to think God loves you too. This song really goes out to you and I hope God is as good to you as he has been to me.” As she started to sing, “I will always love you.” She shared some more wisdom with us before she left that night: “Dream more, care more, do more, and pray more. We are not supposed to understand everything in this world. In the meantime, let’s try a little harder.” She started to sing the final song of the night, “Hello God.” As the chorus came in, the crowd started to applaud with hands raised high as she chanted “He’s Alive!”
Parton’s final words of the night- “Thank you, and God Bless!”
Venue: Greensboro Coliseum- Greensboro, NC
Bands That Played: Dolly Parton