Where do I start with just how incredible the sold-out concert Here She Comes Again: 54 Does Dolly Parton was? Scott Coulter put together a terrific, terrific evening of Dolly's music. He really spanned her whole career and included some of my favorite songs. Sure her big hits "I Will Always Love You," "Coat of Many Colors," "Jolene," "9 to 5," "Here You Come Again," and "Islands In The Stream" were included, but Scott dug deep into Dolly's catalog of music and picked quite a few songs that really highlighted her songwriting ability such as "Down From Dover," "Single Women," and "Two Doors Down," just to highlight a few.
I am a huge Dolly Parton fan, for it was her movie "Straight Talk" that really inspired me to want to be in the entertainment business and have my own radio talk show. Dolly Parton is definitely one of our country's legendary entertainers, but what not everyone realizes is just how magnificent her song writing ability is. Dolly is the queen of story telling when it comes to lyrics. Nobody does it quite like her. It was great to see some of these "story" songs put in the spotlight.
I wasn't sure how I would feel about a whole evening of Dolly music sung by other people, but Scott Coulter put together a dynamite cast of singers who seamlessly made each song they sang their own. While I had the Dolly version in my head previously, these singers, made me fall in love with their versions and allowed me to see some of these songs in a new light. After the concert, I told Scott, he has to find a way to get this evening recorded on a CD. For I would listen to it over and over again. The talent on that stage was unreal! Scott really brought in the best of the best!
Scott himself, brought "Two Doors Down" and "I Will Always Love You" to life with his magnificent voice. "Two Doors Down" was the perfect way to start off the show, for it's upbeat, fun, and showcased Dolly's story telling right off the bat!
KT Sullivan, "The Queen of Cabaret," certainly made "Coat of Many Colors" all hers. She captured the love Dolly had for the coat her mama made as well as the heartache that was brought by the kids making fun of her for wearing it. Jessica Hendy took "Get Out and Stay Out" (from Dolly's Broadway debut musical "9 to 5") to new heights with her booming vocals while Fay Ann Lee shined bright with "Jolene" (the song Dolly wrote about the bank teller in Tennesse who was trying to steal her husband from her). She really conveyed the hurt Dolly must have been feeling during this time in her marraige. Lucia Spina's version of "Here You Come Again" definitely made me feel like I was being transported back to a Dolly Parton concert, but at the same time, I was hearing this song anew.
I was so glad Scott included "Down From Dover" in this show. He chose perfectly with Alex Getlin to sing this song. "Down From Dover" was written in 1969 and was considered quite controversial at that time. It's a song about a teenage girl who finds out she's pregnant and with the guy no where to be found and rejected by her family, she still holds out hope that her lover might return, but in the end, she sadly delivers the baby on her own, only to find out the baby was stillborn. Alex truly found the perfect blending of powerful and emotional singing. She dove into this song and brought out the right amount of raw emotion.
One real treat of the evening was getting to hear one of Dolly Parton's nieces sing one of her songs. Mary Lane Haskell brought the house down with her version of "The Seeker." This song is all about asking G-d for help. A real Gospel number, Mary Lane, got the spirit moving so to speak, and had everyone clapping along! She really let the Almighty hear just how much she was looking for his guidance.
One of my most beloved singers was also featured in this evening Dolly Parton music, Tim Di Pasqua. The first time I had ever heard Tim and Scott sing was back in 2005 when they were featured together in first ever "Leading Men Concert" that was held at Joe's Pub. That night, I was blown away by their talent, and now to get to see them again, singing Dolly Parton songs no less, was even more special! Tim sang a rousing rendition of Dolly's song "What A Heartache," which I had always thought was about losing love, but what I learned from Scott that night was that Dolly actually wrote the song about one of her friends she worked with closely that got mistreated by the industry. Tim certainly sang his heart out and I loved that Scott picked Tim to do it for Tim really knows how to get to the heart and soul of a song, as he does so eliqently with his own music.
Another one of my favorite singers featured in the evening was the brilliantly talented Natalie Douglas. She really brought some soul into the evening with her rendition of "Single Women," a great song about a woman going out for a night on the town, hoping to not go home alone. What can I say about Miss Natalie Douglas that has not been said before, only that when she opens her mouth, right away excellence is coming out. She certainly got the essence of what "Single Women" was about.
I was also thrilled that Scott included yet another one of my most cherished songs is sung by Dolly, but written by Carol Hall: "Hard Candy Christmas" from "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." This song has special meaning to me as it was one of the songs featured on my "Ultimate Survival Mix" when I was going through a rough personal time some years back. This song helped me remember that I would be "Fine and Dandy and that I wouldn't let sorrow bring me way down." Bringing new context to this song was Carole J. Bufford. She tore this song up a level I have not heard! With her grand vocal quality, she certainly will be "fine and dandy" for many years to come!
Two other fun moments in the night was when Scott and Michael Holland (who played piano and guitar) did a duet of "Islands In The Stream." I wholeheartedly agreed with Scott that it was about time 2 guys sung this song. They did a fantastic job capturing the love and fun of the song. The audience just ate it up as well! The final fun moment of the night was when the whole cast sang "9 to 5." What is a Dolly Parton show without one of her biggest hits. It was really fantastic hearing each singer give their take on the lyrics.
I hope I've captured just how magnificent this evening was. From the song selection to the talent! It was truly like going down "Paradise Road" (a song from Dolly's Hungry Again album). An evening of total bliss!
This show is coming back to 54 Below on Sunday, September 21 at 9:30pm! I highly recommend clicking here to get your tickets now to this. I also hope that it gets recorded for a live album for that is how phenomenal of a night it was!
That's Adam's Call and I Stand For Entertainment!