Sunday’s ‘Hot Dolly’ show at Stubbs is the latest tribute to Dolly put on by our live music producer, Deidre Gott
By Jeff McCord
For our live music producer, Deidre Gott, ‘Hot Dolly” (Purchase Tickets HERE!) is round three in her series of tribute concerts to the country music superstar. It’s an extravagant lineup of local talent, encompassing everyone from Sabrina Ellis to Tomar Williams, Daniel Sahad to Leslie Sission, all gathering to pay homage to a beloved entertainer with no ties to Austin and a persona that can be more than a bit, err, hokey. Which, begs the question: Just what is Deidre’s deal with Dolly Parton anyway?
Q: Just what is your deal with Dolly Parton anyway?
DG: I was a singer and dancer at Dolly’s Theme Park in East Tennessee, Dollywood. The show was called Country Treasures, which to me at the time was kinda funny because I was not really into country music. I was studying musical theater. I just saw on TV that they were having auditions and thought I should get some professional experience because I’m going to go to Broadway! Right? I showed up and auditioned with a tune from Guys and Dolls and some obscure musical. And they said, “we want you in the country show!” It was a 50-minute show, a country revue. The first half was contemporary country from the late 90s, the Dixie Chicks, Kenny Chesney, stuff like that. The middle part was a Grand Ole Opry star. So I got to work with some legends like George Hamilton IV, Johnny Russell, and I sang with Jean Shepherd. I went to school in East Tennessee. Dolly actually has a guest doctorate degree from my college. You know, she’s an inspiring person. The big hair, the big personality, all the big things.
Q: Um, ok. So you partied with Dolly all the time at Dollywood?
DG: I wish. I never got to meet Dolly. I worked there the summer of ’98 and ’99 and was told that she would visit and take cast pictures with all the shows, but she stopped doing that the year I started.
Q: But you say yourself you were not into country music. Dolly couldn’t be more country. Something seems missing on the road to your zealousness.
DG: It wasn’t until her box set came out, around 2009. That was when I started getting back into it. “Oh yeah, I remember Dollywood. That was really fun.” I started listening to more of her music. I read the liner notes. There are just so many amazing stories. I got her autobiography one year for Christmas, and that made her more endearing to me, just her stories and the fact that she gives back to her community. The reason that Dollywood is there is that she wanted to bring some living and sustainability to people in East Tennessee where there weren’t really any jobs. So, yeah, it’s her business savvy, it’s her giving back, all of the decisions she’s made across her long career that have been really smart. She is now seventy-five and one of the best in the business.
Q: All admirable. But you don’t think she can be a real diva?
DG: No way! No one has anything bad to say about Dolly. Everybody that’s ever worked with her has incredible stories of how she goes above and beyond and how she treats people. She is genuine and she gives back. She says she’s not a feminist. She’s a fucking feminist! I mean, you can just tell in her music and in the way she, you know, has kind of given the middle finger to the patriarchy all the time with Porter Wagner and even with Elvis Presley when he wanted to cover “I Will Always Love You”. Being a woman in a male-dominated field really speaks to me, obviously.
Q: You’re in the music business. Why haven’t you tried to meet her?
DG: I have!! When I first started working at KUTX, I saw that she was coming to town and I put in a request, I even sent pictures of me singing at Dollywood. I was like, can we just have you in for a little interview? I guess I’ve tried a little bit. I think I’m also just intimidated.
Q: Your first Dolly show was in 2019. When you called up these bands and singers to participate in this show, did you have trouble translating your Dolly enthusiasm?
DG: Definitely some people did not get it the first year. I reached out to people that I thought would, be easy, no problem. But they’d be like, “I don’t know any Dolly Parton.” So what I ended up doing was just making a big giant playlist of all these awesome rad songs that you might not have heard of. And that’s what really got people into it, you know, like especially some of the early stuff.
Q: I know the planning of this show has been stressful for you, coming at a time when you’ve been forced to find a new place to live in an insane real estate market. What is most exciting for you about the new show?
DG: Well, yeah, I’m terrified about stuff. I’ve played on almost all of the stages in town with various bands but the outside Stubbs stage is one I haven’t been on. So that’s intimidating, but also awesome and really exciting. With these COVID rates on the rise again, I’m even more grateful that the show is outdoors in a large space. There will be plenty of room to socially distance. What am I most excited about? I mean, I haven’t seen a lot of these people in so long. So I think I’m mostly excited about seeing my friends again and doing something together and collaborating and celebrating and, you know, having a good time for a great cause. And there’s an after-party at Green Jay (the old Beerland) where we will have karaoke so everyone can sing!
Q: Have you invited Dolly?
DG: No, I haven’t, because I’m scared.
Q: But you should ask her anyway.
DG: I know. Everybody keeps begging me to ask her do a video or something and just say hi to the audience. But can I even ask?
Q: What would you do if the doorbell rang right now and it was Dolly?
DG: Oh, my God. I would cry. I would burst out in tears and just have nothing to say.
ROCK THE PARK IS BACK!
Mueller and KUTX are excited to rock the amphitheater at Mueller Lake Park again this year with another round of free, family-friendly concerts curated by KUTX and our Sunday-evening kids’ show Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child.
Come a little early to secure your spot on the lawn (blankets are cool, but chairs aren’t) and grab your dinner from a food truck.
We hope to see you at Rock the Park!
Rock the Park Fall 2021 Schedule and Lineup
Friday, Sept 17 (rain date Sept 24)
Friday, Oct 22 (rain date Oct 29)
Friday, Nov 12 (rain date Nov 19)
– At the KUTX tent: free face-painting for the kids from Faces by Juliet (5:45-7:45 P.M.)
– Opening music act (TBA, 6:15-6:50 P.M.)
– Mini-performance from Extragrams (6:50-7:10 P.M.)
– Headlining music act (7:10-8:00 P.M.)
ADMISSION: Free! (But bring your wallet – we’ll have kid-sized KUTX t-shirts for sale!)
PARKING: Parking is $1/hour in the McBee Garage across from the Thinkery. Metered spaces are also available around the park.
RECOMMENDED: We try to keep the volume at a reasonable level, but this is still a live music show – we recommend bringing hearing protection for younger children.
OK TO BRING: Coolers, picnic blankets, and stadium cushions (a.k.a., what we called “sit upons” at camp.)
NOT OK: Chairs, glass containers and alcohol are not permitted.
Rock the Park is brought to you by KUTX and Mueller, with additional support from Rock N Roll Rentals.
Kevin Russell of Shinyribs – photo by Michael Minasi for KUTX
KUT 90.5, Austin’s NPR Station, and KUTX 98.9, The Austin Music Experience presents a virtual holiday sing-along. Premiering Sunday, December 13 at noon and available on demand through January 1, 2021.
The KUT Holiday Sing-Along started in the early 1980s when KUT/X host John Aielli, an accomplished vocalist, gathered with friends and fans to sing carols in the Texas Capitol rotunda. Over the years, the sing-along outgrew the rotunda and moved outside to the Capitol steps. In 2002, KUT paired up with the Downtown Austin Alliance to combine the sing-along with the annual Capitol tree lighting and Downtown Holiday Stroll, where Aielli hosted solo until being joined by KUTX host Elizabeth McQueen in 2016.
The holidays may look a little different this year, but KUT and KUTX aren’t letting that get in the way of connecting people through the power of song.
The 30-minute special, hosted by Elizabeth McQueen (co-host of KUT and KUTX’s new podcast Pause/Play), features holiday favorites sung by Austin musicians Molly Burch, Gina Chavez, Eimaral Sol, and Kevin Russell of Shinyribs, with a special appearance by our beloved John Aielli.
Happy Holidays from KUT and KUTX!
Musicians: Kevin Russell: vocals, ukulele; Eimaral Sol: vocals; Billy Blunt: guitar; Gina Chavez: vocals, guitar; Molly Burch: vocals; Dailey Toliver: guitar; John Aielli: vocals
Credits: Host: Elizabeth McQueen; Executive Producer: Sylvia Ponce-Carson; Producer: Erin Geisler; Program Director: Matt Reilly; Cameras and Edit: Gabriel C. Pérez, Julia Reihs, Michael Minasi; Audio Mix and Master: Jake Perlman; Graphic Design; Lisa Kirkpatrick; Title Sequence: David Fried; Set Design: Jacquie Fuller; Original Music: Jack Anderson; Production Manager: Deidre Gott
KUT and KUTX would like to thank Whole Earth Provision Co., Central Texas Food Bank and ABC Home & Commercial Services whose sponsorship help make this event possible. Special thanks also goes out to mmmpanadas and Janie Orr.
Lone Star Livestream is a FREE, live, online music festival highlighting local Austin acts. Produced in partnership with CapMetro, and hosted by KUTX, we have crafted a socially distanced evening of music that can be viewed from the comfort of your couch. CapMetro usually brings people to concerts. Now, they are excited to bring concerts to people.
For the inaugural Lone Star Livestream, the team is bringing local favorites Walker Lukens, Gina Chavez, Mobley, Nané and headliner Wild Child to the forefront in this celebration of the local Austin music scene. Watch this evening of local artists performing live on the KUTX Instagram (@kutx) and Facebook accounts (@kutxaustin) this Saturday, November 21st, at 6 p.m.!
Among the many Austin music non-profits that KUTX supports, Swan Songs has long been one close to our hearts. Swan Songs is dedicated to fulfilling musical last wishes by organizing personalized concerts for individuals nearing the end of life. Musicians who perform are compensated, so in addition to bringing comfort through music, the organization supports Austin musicians.
Since the organization’s founding in 2005, Swan Songs has provided concerts for more than 1,000 terminally-ill Central Texans, at no cost to the recipient, family or healthcare facility. Traditionally, these concerts were performed at bedsides, in homes, and in care facilities. However, the current pandemic forced Swan Songs to pivot. Most of their recipients had compromised immune systems, facilities weren’t allowing visitors, and it quickly became clear that singing was a high-risk activity in terms of virus transmission. Swan Songs founder and CEO Christine Albert explained to me by email how the organization responded. “We met the moment by engaging musicians to record virtual concerts of diverse styles and genres of music, making them available on our website.” Swan Songs essentially created a menu of pre-recorded concerts that families or facilities could easily access when needed.
“Gradually, as our community adjusted to the new normal,” Albert said, “the requests for specific music for individuals began to come in again.” Swan Songs’ musicians began to fulfill those requests by recording personalized concerts. “Now that the weather has cooled,” she added, “we’re also fulfilling requests with outdoor, safe-distanced concerts, both at care facilities and private homes.”
Like a lot of organizations, the pandemic has also hit Swan Songs’ bottom line. “We have lost some funding, for sure,” said Albert. “Sponsors who were not able to contribute this year, people needing to scale back their financial commitment, planned events that were put on hold.” But thanks to the organization’s strong board and years of community support, she says “We are not in danger of shutting our doors.”
Nevertheless, Swan Songs’ annual gala, Swan Song Serenade, remains a crucial source of both revenue and outreach for the organization. This year, the event will be held virtually on October 25, with a virtual silent auction, artist testimonials, and special performance by Texas music giant Robert Earl Keen. “Creating a virtual Serenade is giving us the opportunity to tell our story and highlight our programs more deeply than we do at the in-person gala,” said Albert. “We are excited about that and I believe that supporters and viewers will come away with an even greater understanding of and appreciation for what we do.”
Visit Swan Songs’ website to purchase passes to the gala and to learn more about their mission, services, and how you can get involved.
– Jacquie Fuller, KUTX Assistant Program Director