Dolly Parton dazzled, thrilled, and kinda got me excited about an NFT

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Seeing a living legend perform in person can be thrilling. Hear a crowded arena sing the unforgettable closing choruses of “Hey Jude” to the beat of Paul McCartney; watching LeBron James soar above an ill-fated opponent from a seat behind the basket; leaning forward as Sir Ian McKellen begins the famous “Blow, winds and crack your cheeks!” speech of “King Lear”. Such experiences are unique, unforgettable. But rarer still is the occasion when the legend in question exceeds even your highest expectations.

Dolly Parton isn’t just awesome. She is the Grand Canyon. You may think you know how amazing she is, but until you see her in person, there’s no way to fully grasp the breadth of her talents.

BLOCKCHAIN ​​CREATIVE LABS AT SXSW: Dolly Parton performs onstage at ACL Live during Blockchain Creative Labs’ Dollyverse event at SXSW. © 2022 FOX Media LLC. Credit: Frank Micelotta/PictureGroup for the BCL

That’s a lot of bad language to describe a woman who said, “It’s very expensive to look so cheap.” And the singer-songwriter herself would almost certainly give such praise. Again and again throughout her very first performance at the South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Austin, TX, Parton found ways to anchor her extraordinary career and accomplishments in more humble ground. She was just a hick with a dream. (Although “hillbilly” was the word she used, I’m mostly paraphrasing here – who can possibly take notes when you’re at a Dolly Parton concert?)

WATCH FOR FREE ON TUBI: The Dolly Parton Story: From Rags to Rhinestones

She never wanted to make music and bring people joy, she told the elated audience on ACL Live at the Moody Theater, where Parton performed to celebrate the launch of the Dollyverse (her collaboration Audience-centric Web3 with Blockchain Creative Labs, FOX Entertainment Studio’s NFT). If she sees someone without a smile, she says, “I just give them mine.”

And it wasn’t just about the music. Parton was also there to promote the release of her new book “Run, Rose, Run” with juggernaut author James Patterson, which the pair discussed at length in a lively panel hosted by “Friday Night Lights” star Connie Britton. If the only fun thing about this panel had been the custom jacket that Parton’s costume designer had designed for Patterson, that alone would have been worth a look, but unsurprisingly, Dolly the Novelist is just as charming as Dolly the singer/songwriter/movie star/philanthropist/mogul. (Also very engaging: the surprisingly funny James Patterson, who is obviously just as smitten with Parton as the rest of the world.)

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BLOCKCHAIN ​​CREATIVE LABS AT SXSW: LR: Dolly Parton and James Patterson at ACL Live during the Blockchain Creative Labs Dollyverse event at SXSW. © 2022 FOX Media LLC. Credit: Frank Micelotta/PictureGroup for the BCL

Oh, and Parton also gave us all the NFTs, if we want to scan the QR code provided by the BCL and claim our own. What is an NFT? Well, A) it’s a “non-fungible token” and B) I can’t explain what that means because I don’t understand it myself. I’m not sure Dolly Parton either, but she knew it was a way to connect with her fans, and that seems to have been reason enough for her to be interested in it.

RELATED: The Coolest, Weirdest, and Best Things From This Year’s SXSW: Vol. 1

If you’re wondering how good she sounds after decades of performing, the answer is “good enough that FOX critic Caroline Siede and I both thought she was lip-syncing at first.” And perhaps Parton, the consummate showwoman, knew her incredible vocal prowess could make such an impression, because after blasting through three catchy songs from companion album “Run, Rose, Run” and a thrilling rendition of ” Jolene,” she sang the traditional gospel tune “Precious Memories” a capella, her backing vocalists joining her for shimmering four-part harmony.

But if you’re familiar with Parton’s discography, you know it’s not just about her warm, resonant singing voice; she uses her speaking voice in her songs to draw people in, linking her musical prowess with her storytelling gifts to draw her audience in even more. We listened with great attention when she sang; when she started whispering her lyrics (as she often does in the inspiring “Coat of Many Colors”), the audience leaned in even further.

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BLOCKCHAIN ​​CREATIVE LABS AT SXSW: Dolly Parton performs onstage at ACL Live during Blockchain Creative Labs’ Dollyverse event at SXSW. © 2022 FOX Media LLC. Credit: Frank Micelotta/PictureGroup for the BCL

And maybe it was even intentional. Getting closer to the stage from my seat in the mezzanine gave me a better view of the crowd below. They were dappled with rainbow light, as if we had been transported from Austin to a church in Tennessee, bathed in rays of sunlight on stained glass.

As for the treasure trove of songs she wrote? Although she has no problem taking credit for their success (and still rejoices, after all these years, in the big stacks of money that songs like “9 to 5” and “Jolene ” made to him), it is obvious that in his mind, these songs also belong in part to the people who inspired them. Profits from “Coat of Many Colors”, for example, went to her mother, who made the coat in question. Even the beautiful cashier who inspired “Jolene” was hailed.

WATCH FOR FREE ON TUBI: 9 to 5

And I can tell you because Dolly is first and foremost a storyteller. Biographical details scattered throughout the evening were mostly stories she had already told (although she also broke news when she announced that “Run, Rose, Run” would become a movie produced with Reese Witherspoon’s production company, Hello Sunshine, and that Parton intended to have a role in the adaptation). But knowing the stories ahead of time didn’t make telling them any less compelling.

Dolly is the Grand Canyon, but she’s also what you would call just peoplethere to weave a few threads, sing a few songs and hang out with about 2,500 of his closest friends.

When she sang “Here You Come Again”, 2,500 people rocked. When she sang “9 to 5” — apparently her closing number — and asked 2,500 people to sing the chorus for her, 2,500 people sang. And when she returned for the inevitable encore (“I will always love you,” naturally), you could hear a pin drop.

I still have no idea what an NFT is. But I have one now, because Dolly welcomed us to the Dollyverse and gave us a little present so we could remember our time together. Glad to have it, but it wasn’t necessary. An evening spent in the presence of Dolly Parton? It’s not the kind of experience you forget.

About the writer: Allison Shoemaker is a Chicago-based pop culture critic and journalist. She is the author of “How TV can make you smarterand a member of the Television Critics Association and the Chicago Film Critics Association. She is also a producer and co-host of the podcast network Podlander Presents. Find her on Twitter and instagram at @allisonshoe. Allison is a Tomatometer-approved top reviewer on Rotten Tomatoes.

More Dolly, streaming (for free!) on Tubi

9 to 5 (1980): Roll out of bed and bump into Tubi to pour yourself a cup of this classic comedy, which (depressingly) remains just as relevant today as when it first came out. Luckily, it’s as funny as it used to be, thanks to the lively and lively performances of its three legendary leads. Rated PG. 109 minutes. Real: Colin Higgin. With: Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dabney Coleman.

The Dolly Parton Story: From Rags to Rhinestones (2020): This hour-long documentary traces Dolly Parton’s journey from a childhood sharing a bed with many of her 12 siblings (and wearing a certain coat of many colors) to country music fame and mainstream stardom. . Rated TV-PG. 54 minutes. Documentary. Real: Finlay Bald. With: Dolly Parton, April Watts.

unlikely angel (1996): This holiday movie originally aired on CBS, and its formula is simple, but bonkers: take “It’s a Wonderful Life,” cast Clarence as the lead, and turn him into a no-frills country singer starred. by Dolly Parton, cast Roddy McDowell as Saint Peter, add a touch of “Ghost” and call it a day. After Ruby (Parton) dies in a car accident, she learns that because of the selfish choices she made while on earth, she won’t enter through the pearly gates if she can’t reunite a torn family. by a tragic loss. It is therefore quite naturally that she becomes their governess. Oh, and she sings, of course. Rated G. 91 minutes. Real: Michael Switzerland. Also presenting Brian Kerwin.

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