June 17, 2016 Tanglewood concert review by Dave Read
Dolly Parton opened the 2016 Tanglewood season on her Pure & Simple tour, attacting an impressive audience on a picnic-perfect June evening; watching her fans stream into the Koussevitsky Music Shed was the closest we’ll ever get to seeing a Mardi Gras parade in Lenox. In a show that lasted 2.5 hours and included 28 songs, she also told so many stories that you wish you’d brought along a stenographer. Dolly Parton emerged some fifty years ago onto a fairly cloistered country western scene which she helped bust loose into a dominate place in pop culture, becoming head of a global entertainment business while maintaining her charm, her artistic integrity, and her figure!
Dolly Parton’s Pure & Simple tour
Ms. Parton’s Pure & Simple tour is organized around a CD, to be released in August, which contains a suite of love songs she wrote to celebrate her fiftieth wedding anniversary. Love seems to be Dolly Parton’s organizing principle, and much of her patter relates to her love of her own family, her childhood home in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, and then to the family all of us comprise. After that, she talks alot about her rhinestone costumes and her boobs. But perhaps the most remarkable thing she talked about is the Imagination Library, which she established in 1995 for the benefit of children in her childhood home, as a tribute to her illiterate father. Since then, it has given 100,000,000 books children.
Making up Dolly’s band were Richard Dennison, Tom Rutledge, and Kent Wells (and a drum machine) and besides displaying her beautiful vocal technique, Ms. Parton also played a half-dozen instruments, including banjo, which she played backwards on one number! Especially endearing was a medley of ’60s songs, including The Night They Drove Ol’ Dixie Down, mentioning her affection for Levon Helm and The Band, saying that his daughter Amy was in attendance.