On December 6th, Dolly Parton shared a special wish and a night of many colors with fans for more than three hours inside Austin’s sold out Frank Erwin Center, one of the last legs on her nationwide Pure & Simple tour. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could bottle up all the love and excitement in this room tonight and give everybody in the world a little bit of it?” Parton asked. The singer, songwriter, multi-instrumental musician, actress and business leader stepped out onto the stage dressed in white, sparkling in rhinestones and sequins beneath spotlights. Between songs, Parton delivered intimate stories about her childhood growing up one of 12 siblings in the Great Smokey Mountains of Appalachia, Tennessee. She made self-depreciating jokes and demonstrated an uncanny comedic ability to speak as fast as a Chipmunk at 78-RPM speed.
Alternating between playing guitar, banjo, dulcimer, piano, soprano saxophone and flute, Parton sang most of her top 10 hit songs from the more than 3,000 she has written, and either she or others have performed, over the past 50 years. Following a 20 minute intermission, Parton sang tunes off 1987’s Trio and 1999’s Trio II, albums released in a box set last September, featuring her collaborative recordings with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris. Best of all, Parton invited audience participation during a medley of songs from the 1960s and ’70s: “American Pie,” “If I Had a Hammer” and “Dust in the Wind.” Her band and backup vocalists included pianist Richard Dennison, bassist Tom Rutledge and multi-instrumentalist Kent Wells– performers whose working friendships with Parton span 30 years. In the music business, that kind of longevity speaks volumes about the authenticity of the woman behind her 70-years-young voice.
– Donna Marie Miller
Read Donna’s recap of Dolly’s recent press conference HERE.