Dolly Parton / Greenville, SC / 10-14-2004

Dolly Parton opened her first major tour in 20 years at the Bi Lo Center in Greenville, SC. Parton’s performance was more of a Vegas production than a country show. She opened with “Hello, I’m Dolly” dressed in a white Capri jump suit which she frequently added pieces onto so she wouldn’t have to go off stage for concert changes. She then blasted through “Two Doors Down” and a medley of her hits “Why’d You Come in Here Looking Like That,” “Jolene,” “Here You Come Again” and “9 to 5” accompanied by fingernail tapping percussion.

She performed a stirring version of “The Grass is Blue” while behind the piano. Something she has never done on stage before. She then went into the hilarious “PMS Blues” while key lyrics from the song flashed up on the big screen behind her. She followed that up with the new “I Dreamed of Elvis,” complete with an Elvis impersonator. For “Islands in the Stream,” she went low budget and instead of synching up a prerecorded Kenny Rogers on the video screens, she decided to use a Rogers ventriloquist doll that she pulled out of the “Gambler” box. The thing that made this show so great was Parton’s sincere sense of humor. Even if almost every word was scrolling by on a teleprompter, Parton really sold it. I guess all those years as an actress really paid off. When a crowd member shouted “I love you Dolly,” she quickly quipped, “I told you to stay in the truck!” Parton then told the crowd that she wasn’t planning to imitate Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl stunt because she’d “take out the first three rows” with her “weapons of mass destruction.” Parton’s down home east Tennessee draw was comforting and her personality made her seem like a member of your family.

Parton then took the audience through her past with “My Tennessee Home,” “Coat of Many Colors,” “Smoky Mountain Memories” and an a capella version of “Little Sparrow” before ending with “I Will Always Love You.” She then came back out for a great “Hello, God.”

The Hello, I’m Dolly tour was a fun ride through the past of one of country music’s most celebrated performers. Her set list of classic songs and tracks from her upcoming release Blue Smoke was perfectly balanced out. Her Vegas style production was nice and not overblown like some other performers. The songs and Dolly was the main attraction the whole time. The rest of the production just accentuated the strengths of an already great performer, her humor and sincerity.

-Benji McKay