Dolly Parton at Artpark

Our weekend road trip continued and we headed west to historic Lewiston. I love this picturesque small town but I wasn't there to see the town. I was there to cross off a bucket list item --see Dolly Parton live in concert! 

This was my first time visiting Artpark in Lewiston. The outdoor concert stage was set near the Niagara Gorge which made for a beautiful sunset (Dolly called it "God's lighting). There are a few different ticket types, we choose the one with a seat provided (folding chair), you also have the option of sitting on a hill and bringing your own chair. I had my camera in my purse, my Nikon D3200 because that thing never leaves my side because we were in the middle of a road trip and I forgot it was there. They would not allow it in. They said anything with a detachable lens was considered "professional". I tried to give them the Dolly charm "Well I'm not even sure the lens is removable" and "You should see the photos I take, I promise I am no professional" but they were not having it. AMH had to walk back to our hotel to drop it off. So from here on out, I only have iPhone photos (*Note- they said point and shoots are fine. I should have pointed out that most point and shoots have more zoom than my camera but I didn't want to push my luck.)

AMH and me. Look at that smile, I could not be more excited! He's such a champ. Walked to Artpark, then back to the hotel. Back to Artpark and found me in a mess of 6000 other Dolly Parton fans. Should probably point out that my hubby doesn't even listen to country music (except Zac Brown Band). 

We got to Artpark shortly after the gates opened at 5:30 (the majority of seats are general admission so we wanted to try and get the best seats!) There is no opening act on Dolly's "Pure and Simple" tour and she wasn't taking the stage until 8pm, so we had a lot of time on our hands. Luckily there was a huge section cordoned off for food trucks, beer vendors and Dolly merchandise. I saved seats while AMH headed off in search of mac & cheese (I saw someone else with it). It was delicious! AMH bought me a Dolly sweater and once the sun went down, so did the temperature, and I was happy to have it! 

Dolly had two acts, the first she was dressed all in white and performed old hits and songs from her upcoming album. Dolly Parton was the first musician I ever heard. Both of my parents are fans and I'm sure many kids in the 80's grew up with Dolly and Kenny Christmas albums. In this first half she played Jolene and My Tennessee Mountain Home, two of my favourite Dolly songs. Dolly briefly spoke about her time working on Steel Magnolias, my favourite movie, and on 9 to 5, which was met with a rather loud round of applause from the crowd. Dolly knows her fans all too well. 

After a 20 minute intermission, and costume change into a black leather ensemble, we were treated to a few more classic Dolly songs, 9 to 5, Here you come again, Islands in the stream and the encore I will always love you. Throughout her set she shared stories of her upbringing in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and repeatedly stated that she "needs the money" to keep her Dollywood theme park and the new Dollywood Dream More Resort up and running. She weaved her Dollyisms into each story she told and more than once asked for forgiveness when running to grab a tissue, or to warm herself by the heaters staff placed on the stage after the sun went down. It was a cool evening with a lot of wind and she asked the front row to catch her wing incase it blew off. 

photo via The Buffalo News

Dolly put on an entertaining show that was delightfully Pure and Simple. Just a few musicians, a drum machine that replaced a real life drummer, her singing and story telling. Which is all this fan wanted to see in the first place. I'm delighted to report that even my non-country music loving husband enjoyed himself. 

I enjoyed myself so much that I already have tickets to see her this September in Toronto. Crossing off a bucket list item is so fun, why not do it twice!