Girl Power II: Dolly Parton, Lita Ford & Phantograms' Sarah Barthel - Three infinitely influential women on longevity & style

In our last installment, spotlighting powerful women in entertainment, we focused on impact,influence & legacy.
That thread continues here with three very different yet unforgettable woman & their priceless contributions to the arts & quality of life.
Plus we welcome contributions from J Skinner & more.

Dolly Parton - Dec 3rd - Verizon Theatre - Grand Prairie, TX

For me (& I think for alot of people) seeing Dolly Parton live is definitely bucket list material.
She doesn't just inspire as she does enthrall - no one is a casual fan of Dolly, most like me are all in.
Some of my favorite memories have been either seeing movies she was in or a moment her vast songwriting catalog provided the soundtrack for.
Even just recently this Holiday season with her appearance on Christmas in Rockefeller Center & the made for TV autobiography Christmas of Many Colors Dolly still generates so much happiness.
I remember being on tour with Ween in 2007 when they played Bonnaroo - it was the closest I'd ever been to actually making it to Dollywood but alas it wasn't to be on that trip.
The year 2016 wasn't kind to many of our favorite music legends, so more urgently than ever & still high from just seeing the aforementioned television specials, I made my pilgrimage to finally see Dolly in concert.

However, as I previously stated I know that alot of people dream of seeing her at least once in their lives but I definitely underestimated her popularity in her 5th decade as an entertainer. I think her booking agent must have to because when I arrived at the 5200 seat Verizon Theatre, even on a cold rainy night it appeared that the entire 214 area code was trying to get in to see Dolly.
They were turning hopefuls away in droves, this show could have easily been at a venue twice it's size and still been a sell-out.

Once inside, there she was -  living legend Dolly Parton radiating love, laughter and life at this joyous career-spanning show. 


Even under the guise of the tour name "Pure and Simple," taken from Parton's new recently released studio record of the same name, the 70-year old entertainer expertly displayed evidence that she's a relevant modern artist.  
I've been to at least a thousand concerts as an adult & I can't remember the last time I ever felt such anticipation and then just sheer release by finally being in her presence.  

A presence &  continued allure has been near unavoidable as in addition to the two shows mentioned she turned in a stellar two-song appearance on NBC's The Voice. The destruction caused by the fires in Gatlinburg, Tennessee thrust Parton into a spokesman type of role, since her famed Dollywood theme park has long been that region's claim to fame.  
Long admired for the generosity she has showed her fans, Parton announced a number of fundraising initiatives she'll spearhead in the coming weeks to help those most devastated by the Tennessee fires.  
But for a woman who jovially boasts about how the only "real thing about me is my voice," thanks to her collection of cosmetic surgeries, the night carried a vulnerable authenticity.   
To be in front of her is to be under her spell & her jokes cracked just right and her lengthy anecdotes were warm and insightful.   


And that was just the first half! - Who knew this was gonna be a truly traditional old school show complete with intermission with two acts + a lengthy encore for this amazing, marathon like show clocking in at almost three hours. I love that too because there were clearly a large percentage of patrons who may not have been to any show in years (& may not again for several) so they were really getting their night out in full. 

Few artists in modern history have crossed over from country music into popular consciousness the way Parton did a generation ago. 
Box-office smashes, primetime hits and timeless pop standards are as important to her legacy as the tender stories of her Smoky Mountain childhood.  
Few performers touring today could offer a trio of songs to highlight their icon bonafides the way Parton can. As the night entertainingly rolled to its conclusion, unassailable pop-culture touchstones Islands in the Stream and 9 to 5  beautifully laid out the case for Dolly as a living legend not unlike Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan or Willie Nelson. 
Thank you Dolly - I Will Always Love You. 

Setlist -  

Train, Train  
Why'd You Come in Here Lookin' Like That  
Pure & Simple  
Precious Memories (John Wright cover)  
My Tennessee Mountain Home  
Coat of Many Colors  
Smokey Mountain Memories  
Rocky Top / Yakety Sax  
Banks of the Ohio/  
American Pie / If I Had a Hammer / Blowin' in the Wind / Dust in the Wind / The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down  
The Seeker  
I'll Fly Away ([traditional] cover)  
Set 2:  

Baby I'm Burnin' / Great Balls of Fire / Girl on Fire  
Outside Your Door  
The Grass Is Blue  
Those Memories of You (Alan O’Bryant cover)  
Do I Ever Cross Your Mind  
Little Sparrow / If I Had Wings  
Two Doors Down  
Here You Come Again  
Islands in the Stream (Bee Gees cover)  
9 to 5  


I Will Always Love You  
In the Meantime (Monologue)  
Hello God / He's Alive

Phantogram - Dec 15th - Metroplex Event Center - Little Rock, Arkansas

(Story & Pics from contributing staff member J.Skinner)

In the band's first ever trip to Little Rock, Phantogram found themselves at the for an intimate affair. From the opening chords of Funeral Pyre, the roughly five hundred in attendance were immediately engaged and knew that they were in for what will likely be a once in a lifetime experience. The smaller venue was an apparent change of pace for the New York based duo fresh off an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, but effectively served as a catalyst to envelope the crowd in the band's performance and the interactive video art provided by GSP Studios.  

Front woman, Sarah Barthel, was nothing shy of electrifying as she transported the Little Rock audience through the band's decade long catalog. After performing new offerings from THREE, the fans were treated with old favorites such as When I'm Small and Mouth Full of Diamonds

The event culminated in an encore set lead by Barking Dog, a tribute to Barthel's sister Becky, who passed away unexpectedly earlier this year. Accompanied by an incredible video homage provided by interactive artist Greg St. Pierre of GSP Studios, Josh Carter's emotional vocal performance was well recieved. 

After the performance, the band and crew took advantage of the break in tour, hitting the city to enjoy some well deserved time off before moving on to Tennessee. "This time around we are able to visit some of the smaller cities and really experience the country" said St. Pierre
"This has been the most enjoyable stop so far."  
Promising words for the Little Rock fans, though I suspect the band will be selling out the arena in their next visit.

Setlist - 

Funeral Pyre 
Black Out Days 
Turning Into Stone 
Don't Move 
You're Mine 
Same Old Blues 
Mouthful of Diamonds 
Howling at the Moon 
Bad Dreams 
When I'm Small 

Barking Dog 
Cruel World 
Fall in Love 
You Don't Get Me High Anymore

Lita Ford - Dec 8th - The Rail Club - Fort Worth, TX

Back for the attack the second time this year, as a Runaways fanatic & just a fan of fun, I'm always excited when I hear that Lita Ford & I are in the same town on the same night.

Taking the stage guns-a-blazin wearing a tight red leather bodysuit (just like she did for her Valentines' Day show back in February) still looking impossibly sexy and yet still looks and sounds this good today. Lita and her band, which includes charismatic bassist Marty O'Brien, world renowned drummer Bobby Rock and Texas guitarist Patrick Kennison, played a great setlist that honored her past and present.



The set opened hard and fast with the classic, Gotta Let Go, and never slowed down. 
Perfect for the occasion, Lita paid tribute to her good friend Lemmy with the song Can't Catch Me, which the late Motorhead frontman co-wrote.  

Then it was time to jump into the way back machine as first Lita played the title track from her very first solo album, Out For Blood, followed by
The Runaways' classic, Cherry Bomb, which was featured recently in The Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Lita joked about how it only took nearly 40 years to become a number one song. 

 She has new products out as well. Time Capsule, her latest CD is actually filled with tracks that were recorded back in the day when she would lay them down in the studio, as a glorified demo. You’ll hear a few familiar songs on there, albeit alternate versions. I just finished reading her
book Living Like A Runaway and it's awesome. 
To prove she's still living like one (& the pace of the Rock N Roll circus) she told a story onstage about how she remembers the last time she was here prompted by a gift she had received was trying to guesstimate how long it had been & her guess was over two years ago.
I had to tell her after the show it was only 10 months ago. Good times :)

Setlist - 

Gotta Let Go 
Larger Than Life 
The Bitch Is Back (Elton John cover) 
Playing With Fire 
Back to the Cave 
Can't Catch Me 
Falling In and Out of Love 
Out for Blood 
Cherry Bomb (The Runaways song) 
Black Leather (Sex Pistols cover) 
Close My Eyes Forever 
Kiss Me Deadly

Photos - 

Roy Turner
Andy Laundano

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