Concert Review: Dolly Parton puts on the best show-Plain and Simple.


There’s always a buzz when a legend comes to town. But when that legend hasn’t been in town for a Ryman show in 14 years and that legend’s name is Dolly Parton, that buzz turns into a full blown party.

Dolly, who calls Nashville home, put on a special two night concert at the historic Ryman Auditorium and Saturday night it was to benefit the Opry Trust Fund. Which for those of you that don’t know is a fund that helps pay medical fees, utilities, rent, etc  for members of the Opry that may be in a challenging time.

The line waiting to get in wrapped around the building hours before the show was set to start with an energy that hit like an electric current. If you just sat and listened to people you would find out this was some people’s 40th time seeing Dolly or that you were standing in front of someone who worked for her currently. And everyone that worked for her was bought a ticket and personally invited by Dolly. What a class act.

The curtains drew and out popped a tiny silhouette. When the spotlight focused in your senses were hit with a vibrant blonde with a full figure in a colorful dress…and a familiar voice that sends chills down your spine. Dolly immediately broke the ice with the crowd when announcing what the show was for by saying:

I don’t normally do a lot of charity shows, well I do, but normally I keep the money for myself. I need the money—You won’t believe how much money it takes to look this cheap.

She then right into full on story telling mode. The way only a seasoned songwriter can, pulling deep into emotions that every single person sitting in that famous auditorium could relate to. She told tales from her childhood before she sang ‘Backwoods Barbie’ which added a euphoria of emphasis on just how Dolly Parton was molded to be the person she is today.

As her Creative Director came out to switch out her instruments, she made a comment that I have a hunch you wouldn’t have heard when she first entered the music scene many moons ago:

He sure is cute, ain’t he girls?…..Ain’t he boys?!

‘Jolene’ was next and after she finished, she quickly joked:

Been trying to forgive her going on 40 years now…

You could hear murmurs throughout the whole crowd of amazement at her vocals-so strong and so true. It was as if you took a time machine back to her debut at the Opry. You simply cannot replicate a talent like that.

As the set list went on and the stories continued to go deeper into Dolly’s life you couldn’t help notice that Dolly was playing every instrument known to man. Well, maybe not EVERY instrument, but she certainly showed off her talents with the guitar, tambourine, banjo down to a harmonica and piano.

Dolly’s introduction to each song was more intimate that one could image. But how she could make them equally candid was something I’d never experienced.

Before ‘Precious Memories’ she talked about growing up in a big family and named off her siblings…she then stopped in her tracks and said…

No we weren’t Catholics…just a bunch of horny Baptists and Holy rollers…

I’ve never in my life heard people burst into laughter so loud. Including me.

The set list went on and so did the stories. The story of ‘Coat of Many Colors’ echoed with an Anti-Bullying theme and Dolly informed everyone the song was actually a theme song for many anti-bullying campaigns. Perhaps her mother’s words are enough to help remind people that life is too short to worry about your misfortunes and never let someone bully you for something you’re not:

We ain’t poor-I don’t wanna hear that-There’s a lot of people a lot worse off than we are

Pretty powerful stuff.  Almost as powerful as her singing ‘Little Sparrow’, in which the whole audience gave her a standing ovation.

The hits just kept coming and Dolly kept getting brighter. She then upped the ante by doing a little mash up of  “Baby I’m Burnin” with “This Girl is On Fire.”

With the momentum had a high, Dolly broke out 9-5 and the crowd’s participation was one for the history books.

With a catalog of hits that spans decades, Dolly had her choice of songs and the musical journey she took us on was one that will be a memory you can cherish for a lifetime.