Dolly Parton went full SXSW (and the Dollyverse) with an unforgettable set of tales and songs: a substantial concert followed some awkward Q&A – SXSW
Gary Miller’s photo
The first thing you knew about the Dollyverse – Dolly Parton’s much-publicized South by Southwest appearance – was that it was blockchain-powered: it was streamed on the blockchain! In-person attendees received a free Dolly Parton-themed NFT! Blockchain promos have been broadcast on giant screens!
The second was that Parton’s Moody Friday night appearance was partly to tease a new novel she’s written with every grandparent’s favorite writer, James Patterson – Run, Rose, Run — and a companion album of the same name.
It all sounds like an SXSW madlib, a tuned-up amalgamation of the buzzy activations that have been crammed down attendees’ throats since the conference began last week. Of course, SXSW was going to brag about her very first Dolly appearance (“It never came,” she succinctly explained why she never made it to the bill). But Dolly the novelist who sells NFTs? On this weekend, it’s easy to get cynical that this is pure, sanitized promotion.
Until she takes the stage, that is.
Dolly could sell you a vacuum cleaner. Dolly could sell you a set of cheap encyclopedias. Dolly might sell you an NFT version of the album Run, Rose, Run even if – hand to God – you still couldn’t explain an NFT if your life depended on it. And she could do anything without mentioning any of those things too much. What made Parton’s appearance so special was that whatever PR machine got her there, she showed up with herself, perfectly detached from anything but d to be Dolly Parton. Even powered by blockchain, Parton at the Moody was still as pure as packed snow.
Gary Miller’s photo
The first part of the evening was particularly hectic. Moderated by fan-favorite actor Connie Britton, the conversation with co-writer Patterson (who tried to match Parton’s rhinestones with a few accents on her lapel) was plagued with onstage audio issues. From home, things sounded good, but it was clear that the attendees were having trouble getting along despite being seated a few feet from the next person.
Still, there were nuggets to take away: Patterson called Parton “the smartest person I’ve ever worked with,” which is remarkable considering one of his former aides was President Bill Clinton. . Parton also revealed that the thriller had already been picked up for the film rights, which would star Parton and a collaboration with actor/mega producer Reese Witherspoon.
After a 15-minute break, Parton returned to the stage, Britton and Patterson being replaced by three backing vocalists and a seven-piece band. This is what we entered the Dollyverse for.
Gary Miller’s photo
During that next hour, Parton poured it onstage. The first three songs of the set were dedicated to Run, Rose, Run the album, performed by Parton – stalking the stage in backless rhinestone wedge heels – with the same fervor as anything that comes from his cannon. But, of course, these are the mega hits that the packed crowd was most looking forward to. Parton delivered: She largely did a capella versions of witty “Precious Memories” and “Smokey Mountain Memories,” her crisp soprano untouched by time, hovering in every corner of the room. Speaking of memories, she peppered the narration between songs, drawing on her upbringing in Appalachia and her early career to give context to some of her best-known cuts.
And those are the moments the crowd will remember: the recognition roar of syncopated keyboard chords that launch “9 to 5”, the soothing rendition of the excellent “I Will Always Love You”, the breathless heart of “Coat of multiple colors. Parton embodied the urgency of “Jolene” and the satisfying lift of “Here You Come Again,” fresh as the day she wrote them. If we needed blockchain to take us there, sign up me.