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A Vintage ‘Dolly!’ Brings the Classic ‘Trio’ Back to Life
December 26, 2016  | By David Hinckley  | 2 comments
 

Fans of Trio, the fleeting musical collaboration among Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt, can find a rare glimpse of the group in action Monday night on getTV.

GetTV, a retro network that mines TV and movie history for less-seen programs, will air six episodes of the syndicated 1976-77 variety show Dolly!, 8-11 p.m. ET Monday.

One of those episodes, airing at 9 p.m., is devoted almost entirely to host Parton performing with Harris and Ronstadt – a decade before the first of their two Trio albums was released.

Accordingly, they aren’t plugging material from any release, just singing songs they all clearly enjoy.

Any collaboration like this usually arouses some suspicion that it’s a commercial calculation. In this case, there’s little sense of that.

They were fellow singers who discovered their voices sounded really good together and who liked to sing the same kinds of songs, rooted in a charming blend of folk, country, pop, rock and gospel.

This music harks back to the now-mythical era when musical entertainment meant singing on the back porch, and it’s easy to draw a direct line from the songs Parton, Harris (right), and Ronstadt are singing here back to the Carter Family and other female vocal groups.

The Trio music also wasn’t the product of studio tricks or enhancement. As they prove when they sing live here, that’s just what they sound like.

Dolly! was a syndicated show that ran just half an hour, and probably 20 minutes of this episode have the three women singing.

Parton starts it off, interestingly, by singing “Silver Threads and Golden Needles,” which Ronstadt had recorded not too much earlier. Ronstadt and Harris join her at the end of the song.

Harris then sings Parton’s “Blue Ridge Mountain Boy,” and Ronstadt sings a tune she had previously recorded, Hank Williams’s “I Can’t Help It.”

They regroup for “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind” and a lovely rendition of the old mountain weeper “The Sweetest Gift.”

Ronstadt (right) doesn’t say much, which is consistent with her stage persona in those days. Harris says a few words, leaving most of the talking to Parton. They step away from the music only for a brief joke skit at the end.

The songs, in any case, will make you want to pull out your old Trio albums, which were released in 1987 and 1999. Or buy them. They’re a rock-solid musical investment.

The rest of the Dolly! fest airing Monday includes shows that feature Kenny Rogers at 8 p.m., Tennessee Ernie Ford at 8:30 p.m., Anne Murray at 10 p.m. and Lynn Anderson at 10:30 p.m.

And then there’s 9:30 when Parton hosts a sing-along featuring most of her family.

That’s a whole haywagon full of voices, and the show underscores how skillfully Parton has branded herself over the years as the plucky product of a hardscrabble upbringing from a giant family in the rural South.

Some of the shows get hokey, but they’re perfect holiday fare, warm and nostalgic. Just don’t tune in too late to miss the Trio.

 
 
 
 
 
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2 Comments
 
 
Mac
Complete set (well,almost) of the trio's studio recordings,which make up Trio(1987) and Trio II(1999)along with 20 alternate and unreleased tracks,came out on Rhino this past fall. The three discs could have been presented on two,but both Trio albums total just over 80 minutes(by 11 seconds) total and labels don't like to go near that threshold for timing on a single disc because some CD players will reject them.
Jan 5, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
mark isenberg
And normally on Mondays,it's some vintage variety show like Judy Garland,Cher and Merv Griffin and if you want a really great NYC drama from the late 80s,the Equalizer airs weekdays at 5pm.
Dec 26, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
 
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