My grandfather, Pop, was a huge country music fan. Some of Pop’s favorite artists included Willie Nelson, Tammy Wynette, Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton. When I was little I remember he and I would always listen to a Dolly Parton cassette tape while driving around town. When Pop had to switch the tape to the other side, I would asked him what happened to Dolly and he would tell me she was going to the bathroom or taking a water break. He made believe that Dolly was always live and playing a show for just us. He never told me that the tape was pre-recorded live show until I was little older. I wish I was able to go with him to see Dolly in concert but unfortunately he passed away in April 2000. I think he would be happy that I remained a fan of her music and was able to attend one of her concerts.
On October 1, 2016 I was lucky to see Dolly Parton in concert at the Hollywood Bowl. Dolly called her tour Pure and Simple which is also the name of her latest album. Her band is made up of keyboardist, Richard Dennison, guitarist/banjo player, Kenny Welles and bassist, Tom Ruthledge. Dolly also played many instruments throughout the night from the banjo to the fiddle.
She played for 2-½ hours with a 20 minute intermission. She was really open about telling stories about her childhood with her 11 siblings and parents who showcased love and security. Dolly opened up the concert with the country gospel song “Night Train to Memphis,” from the 1946 film starring country singer Roy Acuff. Throughout the evening she played many more popular songs from her fifty year career while mixing a few songs from her new album.
She also played her well known songs “Jolene” along with an ancient folk ballad “Little Sparrow” that her mother used to sing. During the first half of her show she sat on mock-up front porch to relate to stories from her childhood. She enjoyed explaining how as a child she would often pretend to be a famous country star at the Grand Ole Opry.
Her rag-to-riches story is most commonly told through her song “Coat of Many Colors.” The song inspired a popular TV movie that aired last year on NBC. In the winter of 2016 there will be a second movie called “Christmas of Many Colors-Circle of Love.” During the second half of her show she performed her popular country hits like “Here You Come Again,” “Two Doors Down” and “ 9 to 5”. The last song she performed was her best-known song of all time, “I Will Always Love You.” The whole night was truly an evening that I will always remember as I feel very fortunate to have shared it with a living country music icon.