All Access: Dolly Parton

Feb 1, 2005 12:00 PM, Photos and Text by Steve Jennings


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Though country superstar Dolly Parton played a three-month club tour in 2002 to support Halos & Horns (which has been captured in a live DVD and double-CD, Live and Well), it's been almost 10 years since she went on a major concert swing. According to Parton (, “I realized how much I missed the road and how much the fans seemed to have missed me.” This year's Hello, I'm Dolly tour, while playing at large-capacity arenas, goes for a more intimate feel for her fans as she plays classic hits from her extensive repertoire, such as “Jolene,” “9 to 5” and “I Will Always Love You,” in addition to material from her upcoming release, Blue Smoke.

FOH engineer Matt Naylor (right) and system tech Bryan W. Baxley

Opening up for Parton are Nashville-based The Grascals (Terry Eldredge, Jimmy Mattingly, David Talbot, Jamie Johnson, Danny Roberts and Terry Smith), who also backed the formidable singer/songwriter on the new album. Mix caught the second Bay Area date in Sacramento, Calif., at the ARCO Arena in mid-December.

Monitor engineer Bryan Vasquez (pictured to the right) is using a Midas board — an XL250 — running 11 wedge and two in-ear mixes (Shure 700 Series) through it. All 14 EAW SM12 wedges (inset) are onstage and powered by Crown Macro-Tech amps and BSS crossovers. Guitars run through a mix of AKG and Audio-Technica wireless units. Parton sings through a headset AKG 420c with a 400 Series wireless transmitter.

Monitor engineer Bryan Vasquez

“There is minimal processing outside of the LR Baggs preamps that we use on the banjo and mandolin,” Vasquez explains. “Dolly and her band are top-notch. They are so easy to work with.”

The P.A. for this tour is provided by Morris Leasing (Nashville), for whom system tech Bryan W. Baxley (pictured to the right) works. “We're hanging 16 to 24 EAW 750 per side with 755 down-fills powered by Crown Macro-Techs, depending on the room,” he explains. “We have two EAW 750 per side stacked on top of the subs, and we have four EAW EP-3 on the downstage floor. We use SIA SmaartLive to tune the P.A. and use ourselves to shade it.

“It has been a pleasure to work for Dolly,” Baxley continues. “She's very business-like and yet very personable. She is the best!”

Front-of-house engineer Matt Naylor is using a Midas XL3, citing the board's “warm” English sound and EQ features. “I basically set the mix making sure Dolly is always on top so that it's the same, but she makes it easy because she is very consistent every night. On the main system, I am using all Klark-Teknik Helix EQs and a Manley Vari-Mu compressor. I don't use any compression on her vocal. I had an ATI inserted on her vocal but found I didn't need it — she has great vocal and mic technique. I use PreSonus comps and gates on bass guitar and drums.

“They are all pros onstage and have a good tone,” he continues, “so it's easy to get a good sound out of them; it makes my life easy out front. As far as Dolly, all you can say is, ‘Wow, what a pro!’ No attitude, always gives 100 percent onstage and is just fun to be around.”

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