Dolly Parton continued her Pure & Simple Tour and mesmerized the audience with music, humor, stories, and memories.

There’s a reason why so few people have won the CMA Entertainer of the Year. It’s because there are so few entertainers who can live up to the billing and deliver show after show, year after year.

On her Pure & Simple Tour, Dolly Parton gave what many in the audience called the best concert they had ever seen. It was much more, though. It was her history in the Smokey Mountains, her ambition and drive to succeed, and the culmination of a lifetime of giving her all to entertain her fans.

The eight-time Grammy Award winner appeared onstage as a silhouette behind a lace curtain as the crowd roared their approval. “Hello, Dolly” played as the curtain was raised, then Dolly did the only thing she does better than sing – she commandeered the audience and made every single member feel welcome.

Wearing a self-described “Two sizes too small” dress of silver sparkles, Parton told the crowd, “It costs a lot of money to look this cheap!” Without breaking stride, she sang “Train, Train” before accepting a guitar from a buff cowboy to sing “Why’d You Come In Here Lookin’ Like That.”

As Ms. Parton did all evening, she introduced the next song, this one about a woman at the bank who tried to steal her husband. As the words of the song said, “Jolene” didn’t get away with it. The title track from her 42nd Top 10 album, Pure & Simple, was a laid-back love song that resonated well with the country music crowd.

Several songs about memories of growing up dirt poor in Tennessee gave Dolly the chance to sing many of her early songs, including the heart-wrenching “Coat Of Many Colors,” one of her 26 No. 1 hits. The versatile entertainer amazed the crowd by playing the dulcimer and auto-harp before standing to honor her father with “Smokey Mountain Memories.” Even with her strong vibrato voice, this song came from pure emotion and deeply touched every father in the audience.

She then picked the banjo for “Applejack,” plucked the fiddle for “Rocky Top,” and blew the saxophone for “Yakety Sax.” The end of her memories section was a duet with Richard Dennison on “Banks Of The Ohio.”

Parton and the her three-man band (Dennison, Jim Salestrom, and Kent Wells) lined up to sing an Americana medley. Everyone on stage and in the audience sang “American Pie/If I Had A Hammer/Blowin’ In The Wind/Dust In The Wind/The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”

Dolly finished the first set with the spiritual “The Seeker” and “I’ll Fly Away.” Her devout beliefs made her voice even stronger for the old-time Gospel Music.

After a quick break, the band came back with a few more songs of growing up, including “Outside Your Door” from the new album. “The Grass Is Blue” featured Dolly playing a baby grand piano that featured poignant lyrics and emphasized her unmistakable voice.

Parton talked about compilations and sang several songs from collaborations with Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Loretta Lynn, and Tammy Wynette. “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind” was one of the classic songs from her anthology.

She finished with her biggest hits. She danced her way through “Two Doors Down” and the crowd danced with her. The fans erupted as soon as they heard the first few notes of “Here You Come Again,” another one of her 110 charted singles. The look of pure pleasure on her face as she sang was contagious and the entire venue replied in kind.

Somehow, the audience raised the decibel level when she began singing “Islands In The Stream.” All of the men volunteered for the Kenny Rogers part, but Dolly sang it as a solo.

In the ultimate singalong song, everyone in the theater sang “9 To 5.” She shook, she shimmied, and she shined, and had as much fun as anyone. It closed the second set, but the audience knew there was more.

The Songwriter Hall of Famer has composed more than 3,000 songs, but none more poignant than her love song to Porter Wagoner. Not an extraneous sound was heard as she sang her signature song, “I Will Always Love You.” It was fueled by love, honor, and thanksgiving to her mentor.

After an uplifting speech about staying positive, all the combined emotions took her voice to a higher level as she sang “Hello God/He’s Alive.” Thunderous applause erupted again for getting to share a night with the most decorated female country performer of all time.

Dolly has attained numerous honors, including the National Medal of the Arts, the Kennedy Center Honors, and induction into the Grand Ol’ Opry. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and has been nominated for Academy, Emmy, Tony, and Grammy Awards. She’s sold over 100 million records, but her biggest talent is her humility and ability to relate to everyone she meets. The diminutive Dolly Parton is indeed a giant in the entertainment world.

Ms. Parton has finished this tour, but the 70-year-young superstar will undoubtedly tour again soon.

Thanks to the staff at the Verizon Theatre for their help.

Joe Guzman was on hand to capture the event for National Rock Review.

Dolly Parton
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Verizon Theatre
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Event Date: 03-Dec-2016