What would Dolly Do
The Old Museum
What would Dolly Parton do if she had some songs to share? She’d hustle up a storm and get a show happening. So, having discovered that she has an awful lot in common with her multitalented majesty Ms Parton (they both love sad songs, for instance), that’s just what Megan Cooper has done. Her return to the Queensland Cabaret Festival, “What Would Dolly Do?” sees the singer songwriter sharing some stories from her life, via the stories and songs of her song writing hero. It’s Dolly done a little differently as audiences are treated to sad songs, shimmy songs and mountain sounds with a little hip shaking on the side.
The curation of the show is its greatest strength. The transition between the songs from Dolly’s decades-long career in country music that we know (or maybe not always) and Cooper’s own songs is seamless. The essence of original numbers is so like that of Parton’s work, that the original songs sit easily alongside their more well-known counterparts. ‘Virginia Fall’, for example, (from Cooper’s debut album Ghosts, Choirs & Kings) has a lovely sound to its recall of experience of being in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains, especially in its sweet chorus sounds and distinctive whistles.
Cooper is a genuine performer whose story-telling is grounded in authenticity, which works well in an intimate venue such as that of The Old Museum. She is clearly an accomplished country singer who easily accompanies herself on guitar as required. Her light and bright vocals and occasional slight gravel, allow her to give much to her share of well-known Parton songs and her band, The Polished Flaws (Mark Angel on guitar, Brannon Crickmore on violin and Dr Bob on the double bass) also contribute considerably to the sensibility of each number. Crickmore’s strings, for example, both add to the heartbreak of ‘The Grass is Blue’ and fill the catchy country to pop crossover hit ‘Here You Come Again’ with hope.
The combination of all these elements makes for a musical treat to fill up our senses and immediately have us ready to go again, singalong song sections and all. Whether it be ‘Jolene’, ‘I Will Always Love You’ (both written on the same day) or Cooper’s own equivalents, there is much to enjoy about “What Would Dolly Do” given the respect with which its performers treat each and every of its numbers.