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Dolly Parton Concert Review – Huntsville, AL 11/16/2016

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    Written by Lisa Wilkerson
    I was thrilled and honored to attend Dolly Parton’s Pure & Simple show at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, AL, on November 16, 2016. To say I’m a Dolly Parton fan is like saying Peyton Manning enjoys football and Papa John’s pizza, a greater understatement has never been uttered. I’ve seen Dolly several times in various locations but looked forward to experiencing this particular tour, her first major North American run in over 25 years.

    This was my first visit to the Von Braun Center similar in size and layout to Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium. Nearby parking was reasonably priced, the staff was friendly and the venue was clean. I was seated floor level in front of the soundboard just a few rows from the back of the arena.

    Dolly Parton

    Blessedly, sound quality was excellent (besides a thunderous bass drum that caused heart palpitations) because I relied on my ears rather than my eyes most of the night. To put it mildly, the view was obstructed. There were no video screens or risers to enhance the floor experience. Every seat was at the same level. My 5-foot-8 frame usually doesn’t have a problem in such situations but even I struggled to see. A majority of the evening was spent contorting around heads and cell phone cameras. When I finally caught a glimpse of Dolly, she looked like a tiny white candle 100 yards away. That country candle sure did shine, though; in her words, “I never leave a rhinestone unturned.

    Dolly is an entertainer. From her look to her quips, she always amuses. She put on a nearly three-hour performance (no opening act) that included an intermission/wardrobe change. The multi-instrumentalist dabbled on guitar, banjo, fiddle, dulcimer, flute, piano, and (jokingly) saxophone; playing well-known hits, numbers from her gospel, bluegrass, Trio albums, her new #1 release Pure & Simple and a half dozen covers of Bob Dylan, Jerry Lee Lewis, Alicia Keys and others.

    Dolly Parton

    With over five decades in the music industry and three-thousand songs written, Dolly doesn’t need to cover other people’s tunes in concert. People come for the hits, her hits. With 106 singles, 55 Top 10s, and 25 #1s, she has more than enough material to mix up the set list every night; she doesn’t have to look elsewhere. “Love Is Like A Butterfly”, “The Bargain Store”, “Rockin’ Years”, “Joshua”, “All I Can Do”, “You’re The Only One”, “It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right”, “Heartbreaker”, “Tennessee Homesick Blues”, “Old Flames Can’t Hold A Candle to You”, “Staring Over Again”, “But You Know I Love You”, and “Heartbreak Express” would’ve been welcomed inclusions over her cover choices.

    It would’ve benefited her to play up on the Pure & Simple name by designing a pure and simple show. Forego the out-of-her-element smoke machine, pyrotechnics, light show, and electronic tracks for the more natural setting of the front porch of her Tennessee Mountain Home. Strip down the production. Dolly excels when she is accompanied by sparse string instruments and/or a capella harmony. “Those Memories of You” and “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind” were done this way and received some of the biggest reactions from the crowd.

    Dolly Parton

    I challenge her to conduct an arena concert like a writer’s show at The Bluebird Café. The audience wants to hear her stories. She broke off script a few times to talk about her childhood, life on the farm, and how specific songs were composed; the crowd adored these glimpses into her personal life. People love Dolly—it’s not about wild stage productions with her—they care about authenticity and going away knowing her better than they did when they arrived.

    This show gets a Concert Blast rating of 8.5 out of 10. Deductions for too many covers and an awkward attempt at rock-like production elements.

    Written by Lisa Wilkerson


    INTRO: Hello Dolly

    SET 1
    Train, Train
    Why’d You Come in Here Lookin’ Like That
    Pure & Simple
    Precious Memories (John Wright cover)
    My Tennessee Mountain Home
    Coat of Many Colors
    Smokey Mountain Memories
    Rocky Top/Yakety Sax
    Banks of the Ohio ([traditional] cover)
    American Pie / If I Had a Hammer / Blowin’ in the Wind / Dust in the Wind / The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
    The Seeker
    I’ll Fly Away ([traditional] cover)

    SET 2
    Baby I’m Burnin’ / Great Balls of Fire / Girl on Fire
    Outside Your Door
    The Grass Is Blue
    Those Memories of You (Alan O’Bryant cover)
    Do I Ever Cross Your Mind
    Little Sparrow / If I Had Wings
    Two Doors Down
    Here You Come Again
    Islands in the Stream
    9 to 5

    I Will Always Love You

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      Concert Blast Returns to the CMA Music Fest!

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        Posted on 5/31/2016 

        CMA Music Fest 2016Concert Blast has attended and reported on several Music Festivals over the years; Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis, TN, Bonnaroo in Manchester, TN, Big Spring Jam in Huntsville, AL, and the CMA Music Festival in Nashville, TN.  Although we haven’t produced a podcast/blog in nearly a year, the CMA Music Festival paid homage to Concert Blast by inviting Mike Arnold and Will Perry to be a part of the media to report on the huge festival in downtown Nashville, TN through photos and short videos on FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, and . Mike and Will were very surprised by the invitation and plan to attend several of the concerts and events.  Since there are only two covering the festival, they have learned that they can’t do it all, so they will be selective on what to attend and what to cover.

        Maggie Rose

        Maggie Rose - Live at CMA Music Fest

        In the past we wanted to cover as many concerts and interview as many artists as we could, but it wiped out our energy.  We refuse to let that happen again so we will be very particular on who to cover.” said Concert Blast creator, Mike Arnold.  Will and Mike will be covering their favorites at the smaller stages, Chris Janson, Maggie Rose, Chris Carmack, and others. Mike Arnold mentioned, Our favorite place to cover the event is in the small venue, HGTV Barn, where top artists from various genres perform to a small crown of a couple of hundred.  There we covered Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, Goo Goo Dolls, Kristen Bush, Charles Esten, and many others. Mike and Will will definitely plan to be at the stadium concerts each night.  ”During the stadium shows we always run into Concert Blast fans, artists, and songwriters that we very seldom get to speak with.”

        Mike Arnold and the Music City RockersConcert Blast decided to slowly put on the brakes of podcasts and blogs due to their schedules being so hectic.  Brian Hasbrook began traveling daily on his consulting career, Tom Thompson got married and turned his focus to his family, while Mike Arnold turned his extra time focusing on performing, writing, and recording with his Nashville Rock & Roll Party band, Mike Arnold & the Music City Rockers.  Mike adds, “With Brian and Tom out of the picture and others continue to ask me when and where was my band performing next, instead of what is the our next podcast/blog will be on, I decided it was time to shift gears and record an album and get other media to be writing on me!”  Be looking for Mike Arnold and Will Perry as they cover the CMA Music Fest 2016!

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