What A Show!

Photos taken at MerleFest, Wilkesboro, N.C., April 28, 2001.
All images are 2001 Debbie Poole. Used with permission. Click on each of the smaller photos to view the full layouts.

By Debbie Poole for Dollymania

Dolly came out and hollered: "Well, Hello, Merlefest!" She started out with "Train, Train" and "Muleskinner Blues."

She said, "I just wanted to tell you how proud I am to be here. This is the first chance I've had to come to world famous Merlefest. Getting a chance to visit with Old Doc Watson back there for a couple of days. He is the nicest person. I'm just so honored and proud to be here, because we have had alot of great success on a couple of bluegrass albums here lately, and I just want you to know that I appreciate the fact that you have excepted me and it's the music that I've loved and had opportunity to sing through the years. First time I've had the opportunity to get to do some full blown bluegrass things, and I wrote a song, because Bill Monroe was always a friend of mine, one of my favors of all time and reminded me a great deal of my daddy. 'Course my daddy couldn't sing a lick, but Bill could. Anyway I wrote a song that's in my new album to honor Bill. So I hope you will enjoy this one, is from the Little Sparrow album."

She then performed "Bluer Pastures." Afterward, she noted, "Everytime I sing that last version, I just know Bill is somewhere listen. Don't you?"

Next came the CD's title track, after which she said, "What a big thrill this is singing here for you folks seaming like you LOVE this kind of music, and I do, too, and to be able to just stand up here on this stage and singing with, full of some of the most wonderful musicians and singers in the whole wide world. How good can it get? Not to say all that food we have eat in here and this beautiful weather too."

Then Dolly sang the title song from her first bluegrass album, The Grass is Blue. After finishing, she said, "Here's one of my favorite songs. This is a little up from bad, this is more of a positive message, so let's get off these sad songs, I'm about to die! How about you?" And she laughed.. "This one is called 'Shine.'" During the song, Dolly said she couldn't keep up with the band, so she started dancing around.

Dolly started joking with the crowd about peeing in the bed as a child and said she peed for a week after she wrote this next song she was going to do, "Mountain Angel." She let the crowd help with the "Ohooo's." Dolly talked about when she was a young girl, she would love to go to every barn dance and pie supper every time they had one for the school or church.

"I was always there just to see the boys; it was not to go to church to sing. I was going to marry all of them," she laughed as the intro to "Marry Me."

After that number, she said she felt like dancing and that she had to come back to MerleFest "if they will let me!"

She introduced "A Tender Lie"saying, "Let's go to another sad song." After a mistake on the song, she asked if she could sing "this sad ass song" again. "If I screw it up this time, I'll just move right along. I hate to do that to you twice, but some people deserve to suffer," she said to the crowd's laughter. "You hate knowing how it is when they put stuff on tape that's going to be around long enough when you are dead and say that was Dolly Parton performing and mugger some more words."

Next came a series of great performances: "I Get A Kick Out of You," "I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby," "Cash on the Barrelhead," "Coat of Many Colors," "Smoky Mountain. Memories" and "I Will Always Love You."

Then she asked if she could bring festival founder Doc Watson out to sing with her, and the crowd went wild. The two launched into "The Last Thing On My Mind." Doc told Dolly it was nice to sing with her. She thanked him and started "My Tennessee Mountain Home," in which he joined in. She told Doc to keep and eye on the band and she would wind the show up with the bluegrass version of "I Will Always Love You" As she left the stage, Dolly waved to the standing, clapping and shouting crowd. "God Bless You and Good Night!" The crowd remained at their feet for a long standing ovation.