You can say hello and goodbye to Dolly Parton on Sunday at the Everett Events Center. No, her "Hello, I'm Dolly" tour isn't her last — like Cher's endless Farewell Tour, which...

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You can say hello and goodbye to Dolly Parton on Sunday at the Everett Events Center.

No, her “Hello, I’m Dolly” tour isn’t her last — like Cher’s endless Farewell Tour, which plays the same venue Jan. 26 — but rather something of a new beginning. The Everett stop is, however, the last in the long, 39-show tour, which began in October.

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Last dates of major tours tend to be lively, lighthearted affairs, with everyone involved at heightened levels of anticipation and excitement. It’s also traditionally a time when practical jokes are played onstage, usually involving the opening band trying to embarrass the headliner.

That may not happen at the EEC, particularly given that Parton is a huge star and the opening act, the Grascals, are her protégés. But the night will surely have a special feeling, for Parton and the audience.

The “Hello, I’m Dolly” jaunt is her first major tour in more than a decade and her most elaborate ever. It makes use of the latest technology, including a new, state-of-the-art sound system; wireless, headset microphones; three big video screens; and “enhancements,” like a backing choir that won’t be there in person but rather on tape.

It’s also a show with plenty of costume changes, props (including a Kenny Rogers ventriloquist dummy that sings) and skits, including a band member transformed into a Vegas-era Elvis.



Concert preview



Dolly Parton and opening act the Grascals, 7 p.m. Sunday, Everett Events Center, 2000 Hewitt Ave., Everett; $39.50-$59.50 (866-EEC-TIXX or www.everetteventscenter.com).


It’s a greatest-hits show that includes all of her most popular songs, as well as bluegrass songs from her most recent albums — which are among the best of her nearly 40-year career — and cuts from an upcoming recording.

Her bluegrass obsession of recent years has her back writing real country songs, as opposed to the pop/country that she pursued, successfully, in the ’80s and ’90s. While Parton can write rings around most Nashville songwriters in any genre, the personal ones she composes about her own life, like “Coat of Many Colors,” “I Will Always Love You” and “My Tennessee Mountain Home,” are more substantial, more believable, more moving than the pop stuff she can churn out without effort, like “9 to 5” or “Why’d You Come In Here Lookin’ Like That.”

While Parton presents herself in almost a cartoonish fashion — and we love her for it — she’s actually one of America’s great country songwriters and performers, and is also a pretty good musician, playing a multitude of instruments. Her songs can be comical, but perhaps only Loretta Lynn is equal to Parton in writing eloquently, honestly and movingly about growing up dirt poor in the rural South. Like Lynn’s, Parton’s songs are remarkably free of rancor and self-pity, but tug mightily at the heartstrings.

The Grascals are six Nashville studio veterans who will open the show with tunes from their debut album, due Feb. 8 on Rounder Records. The band backed Parton on some cuts of her forthcoming album, due next year, and will accompany her on several of them in the concert, as well as play in her 10-member band.

Patrick MacDonald: 206-464-2312 or pmacdonald@seattletimes.com