The Texas Show: October 24, 2002
This is mainly written so I can very clearly remember one of the happiest days of my life. But I’d like to share it with anyone who cares to read about it.
I had been trying for nearly two weeks to get tickets for “The Texas Show”, a CMT Special being filmed at the RiverBend Centre in Austin, Texas. To me going meant more than mere words can express… For one, I have been a Dolly fan since before I can remember (and had never seen her live), and for another, she was going to be in my hometown, only about twenty minutes from my house! The depressing part was that in order to go you had to WIN tickets from KVET (or KASE) radio station. Winning things has never been something I revel at, especially anything dealing with the radio. So sure, the tickets were free, but not knowing if you’ll be able to go is gut wrenching when you‘re a big fan.
I tried everyday for two solid weeks to get tickets. I posted on message boards in advance, even went to chat rooms, begging people to sell their tickets, and, of course, I called and called in on the radio, yet only managed to get busy signals. Still, I just knew I had to be there.
My stomach was in a knot from the day I heard she was coming here. Part of me was so excited, it couldn’t be true (as corny as that may sound), but the other part of me was dying inside… what if I couldn’t be there? Couldn’t see her?
I went up there the day before, it was a pretty day and the River Bend Centre was gorgeous. All serene and peaceful. I sat there on some steps the day before. Reading and wishing another fan would wander by. I don’t really know why I went a day early. Maybe to just be close to her. Or maybe I was hoping to catch a glimpse of her bus, to maybe hear them rehearsing inside. Yet I only saw workers milling about with heavy equipment. I felt out of place and like I didn’t know what I was doing. I left an hour later.
Sleep didn’t come easy the night before, I had so much on my mind, what if’s and such. My alarm sounded at 6:00 a.m… I had planned to turn on the radio and listen one last time to see if they were giving tickets away. Almost immediately, Sam and Bob (the morning DJs) announced there were no more to give away. So, I went back to sleep.
It was raining really hard.
I kept hitting the “snooze” button, not wanting to face the concert day still having no tickets. I wasn’t even sure if I was going to go up there.
I rolled out of bed late, at around 1:00. I got online, still in my pajamas. Checked my e mail, Belinda, another huge fan had sent me another sweet e mail, telling me to not lose faith. Then I talked to Jerry online, he urged me to go.
So, hard as it was I got dressed and did my makeup. Stopped in the rain for gas on the way. I got there around 3:00. Yet again, I saw no one. No line of early-bird fans, nothing. So I sat in my car, I read a book and sipped a Mountain Dew.
Stuff finally started happening about 30 minutes later. I saw two guys who obviously didn’t know what they were doing or going. I knew they didn’t work there. I saw them go into the building, odd, I thought, the doors are not locked. They came back out a few minutes later, started walking down by the church (River Bend Centre is a part of the big church). I finally got the nerve to get out and approach them. I asked if they were there for the concert. “No,” the said, “We’re just looking around at the church… but there’s a band playing inside, we just went in there.” I couldn’t believe people were allowed in to watch them rehearse!
I thanked them, wanting to say “Don’t you know that’s Dolly Parton in there?!” I don’t think they even realized it was actually her.
When I opened the big doors I heard her voice, she was laughing and someone was randomly plucking around on a guitar. When I entered my eyes had to adjust, the room was pretty big, yet it was not as big as I had imagined. The stage looked smokey, like someone had been toying around with a fog machine. And the lights were brilliantly colored. There were a lot of people in there watching, I sat down and then all I could see was her. For a brief moment.
That is until some blonde lady with a walkie-talkie tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I was “a part of the show”. I told her no, “Oh, well, you’re not supposed to be in here yet.” She basically followed me to the door where I lingered for a minute listening to Dolly, who was still giggling on the microphone.
She also got another fan from the top row. He was just sitting quietly, watching the show. I suddenly felt really bad for ruining it for me. She obviously had taken no notice until I walked in, ugh. He began asking her questions about where the line would be forming, she kept getting interrupted by the walkie-talkie. She called and asked for security to guard the doors so no one else would come in. Then she said something about Dolly getting on her bus soon.
The man and I walked outside, we sat down outside the entrance and started talking. He is a big Dolly fan and also enjoys attending “Austin City Limits”. He won his tickets on the radio but had already given them out. He told me to stay positive and that he had a feeling I’d wind up getting in.
I was just so happy to have even see her, however briefly.
We sat there a little longer when a nice looking dark headed man walked up. He immediately asked my name, I told him and he said “Belinda told me about you, I’m Todd.” I was really happy to meet him, I had heard a lot about him through my friend Belinda. We shook hands, he squatted down next to us. We made small talk for a few moments before I mentioned Dolly’s bus and what the walkie-talkie lady had said about her boarding it soon.
Todd said he knew where her bus was parked… The other man said he’d hold our place in line if we went to look. So, up the hill we went, we hopped in my car then drove around to the back where her bus (as well as “Asleep at the Wheel”s) was parked. There was a sign that said “no parking” but we parked anyway. We tried to blend in, as crew and band members were constantly walking by. We just knew they’d come ask us to leave at any time.
After waiting for what seemed like hours we decided we had better go back and see how long the line was. As we got out we saw Don Warden getting something from the bus’ storage area. We ran back to the car, hoping she’d exit the building soon. Todd goes to a lot of her special events, she knows him by face and would have very likely chatted for a while if we could have seen her and got her attention.
We decided to leave my car back there, that way I’d have a change of seeing her leave after the concert, plus I knew it would be harder to park now that it was only an hour and 15 minutes before they would start letting people inside.
We walked all the way back to where the concert was to be held. To our great horror we saw they had decided to make the other entrance the main entrance. So much for being first (not that it mattered for me at this point anyway). Todd’s friend Karen was waiting in line, she was near the front. So he joined her. I stood by the other guy until the rest of his party got there.
I just couldn’t get the nerve to ask people if they were willing to sell their tickets. I just hate doing stuff like that, but it was for Dolly, I finally made myself.
I switched places in line three times, constantly going to the end of the line until it got longer. Then the CMT people started separating everyone, random people were chosen and were given little blue tickets. If you got a blue ticket you were lucky because you got to sit in the front row. One of the ladies tried to give me one but I explained to her I didn’t have a ticket anyway… and if I had taken it I would have been moved to another line. Everything happens for a reason and now I’m glad I didn’t take that little blue ticket.
The line started to move rapidly. I was about to give up. I was waving a $100 bill, trying to tempt someone into selling me theirs. People thought about it but usually the other person they were with talked them out of it. People were amazed at how bad I wanted in there, how I was willing to give $100 cash straight up for a ticket which had been given out for free. People started walking past me (with the line), I was about to turn away in tears when I lady caught my eye. She caught my eye because she looked like Dolly’s mother. She was small, with dark hair and glasses, an older lady. I could tell she was about to speak to me before her mouth even opened. We were shifting towards the door when she did, “You need a ticket?” My mouth dropped, she was an angel. Before I could say much the ticket was being pressed into my hand. I tried to give her the $100, she wouldn’t take it. I was blubbering, tears of joy came to my eyes and my heart was beating so fast. I kept thanking her and calling her an angel.
Thirty seconds later we were in the door.
We got separated in the crowd and I never saw her again.
I wound up sitting four rows from the stage. Center. The only drawback of this seat was one of the cameramen was posted to the right of me, on the row in front. It really wasn’t that bad though… I was only like 20 to 25 feet away from the people on stage. The couple I sat next to were so awesome and sweet. We talked a long time and I swapped addresses with them so I can send them a copy of “Wild Texas Wind”. We talked about how special of an event it was for me, and our respect and love for Dolly and Willie Nelson.
The next hour seemed to drag. They started at 8:00 on the dot.
We all had to fill out these little questionnaire’s and turn them in to the “ushers”, they asked questions about us and all. We were told one would be chosen during the filming and Bruce Robinson would write a song about that audience member before the end of the show.
The morning DJs of KVET, Sam and Bob came out and announced some comedian. The comedian came out and explained about the show. That no one can get up for restroom breaks once filming begins. We also met the director (whom I couldn’t decide if I liked or hated), then they made us do a lot of clapping that they said they’d use randomly for the special. Then he finally announced the host for the evening, Ray Benson. Ray came out, he was really cool. Really tall, too.
He has a very distinct voice.
They showed us a clip of Willie Nelson, it was cute, hard to explain, but cute. It will be in the special.
Then Ray started his opening monologue, they had to re-take the scene though because Ray said “As we all know Texas is the Capital of Austin”, rather than the other way around. He was so funny when the Director cut him off, too. He made jokes about it and all.
After his monologue he announced Vince Gill. Vince came out, he sang a song he wrote about Texas (he said he wrote it the other day). Then he sang a very blues-ish song. Then Ray and Vince sang “Corina Corina”, he named his baby girl after that song. It was so cute because near the last two verses of the song his daughter came toddling onstage. He picked her up and danced around with her. The Ray kissed her little cheek at the end of the song.
Then he announced Bruce Robinson (who is married to Kelly Willis and wrote the new song by the Dixie Chicks called “Traveling Soldier”), Bruce came out… then they announced the person whose name was chosen in the drawing. (During this time they had to re-take a few things) They made the poor girl (who was named Melissa) go sit up there and elaborate on her brief life story. She was so embarrassed that my cheeks got red just looking at her. Poor thing.
Then Bruce went off to write the song and they did something called “Cowboy Poetry”. It was really Cowgirl poetry because it was a girl who recited her poem, which was funny and called “Spotted Ass”. Then Ray recited his own little funny version of a poem and everyone laughed.
Something that greatly amused the audience was the makeup girls. They were always rushing out to put powder on his nose or wipe off his brow. He’s so tall that it was just very funny. And he lived it up, of course, at one point dropping to his knees, then getting up and saying he had not done that since he proposed.
He also referred to some odd statue of what appeared to be Siamese-longhorns joined at the head. They had big horns and Ray said that earlier Dolly had said it was the horniest thing she’d seen all night. Then they had to re-take that scene because, “the sensors got a hold of it.” The next guest was a fiddler, he’s a local who is very, very good. I’ve forgotten his name. It’s no small wonder, I was still freaking out that I had gotten in.
Finally he announced Dolly!
She came walking out in this gorgeous magenta and orange sparkly number. Now, I have been told many times that Dolly is a very small human being but I never fathomed she was THAT small. And I knew she could light up a room but I never knew she could set off fireworks. She was so bubbly and animated, she glowed.
Seeing her in person so close absolutely took my breath away. It was as if I had lived my whole life for that one moment.
She said something about how everyone had been telling her to sing her old songs so she started out with “an old favorite” Jolene. It was fabulous, she sounded so wonderful in person. After Jolene she started in on her story about how Jolene really existed (she cannot seem to decide if Jolene is fictional or not!) She went on to say back in the day Jolene “had this long red hair and even longer legs. Well, she had everything I didn’t! But, you know, I saw her recently and she’s just not holding up very well.” Then she laughed, “But then again, I have a lot of very talented Doctor’s keeping me looking young!”
Next she sang “the song that means the most to me”, Coat of Many Colors.
You could hear the teardrops in her voice as she sang.
Next Vince joined her, they sang “I Will Always Love You”, it was precious, they have great stage chemistry. She held his hand through much of the song.
Then Ray came out and said he was jealous that she sang with Vince and not him, since they had, in fact, written a lot of songs together. Dolly said there’s no way she’d sing with him standing up (since he’s so tall), so he pulled up a barstool and she stood next to him. They sang “Leave That Cowboy Alone”, it was really cute, she kept poking him on the knee during certain points. Then, he accidentally started singing her part, she started laughing during the song, saying, “Hey, that’s my part, get off of it!”
After the song they did a little skit… Ray showed her a HUGE book, saying it was a sequel to “Wild Texas Wind” (which was a movie they filmed together in Austin in 1991) that he’d written. It was huge, she nearly toppled over when he handed it to her. It was just a big joke. She also spoke briefly about how she loves Austin and how she enjoyed her time there while they filmed the movie.
Then she left the stage.
Ray stood up, “Okay now, ya’ll don’t leave now… Dolly will be back soon and she’ll sing about twenty more songs”, he laughed.
Vince came back out, they did a little joke-skit. Got more makeup put on and said a bunch of funny lines that will definitely not be on the special. Ray said “Ya’ll will probably see the special and hate it and say it was a lot better behind the scenes, just don’t tell your friends that.” There was a lot of laughter - everyone was enjoying themselves.
Then they had problems with one of the microphones… finally it was fixed, they called out Bruce again. Then Melissa back on stage (who was dying again of embarrassment). He sang her a little song about herself and everyone clapped, it was cute.
Then they did the grand finale, which was all of them coming back on stage and singing “On the Road Again”. At the end Ray kissed the top of Dolly’s head. It was precious. Then they all bowed.
But it wasn’t over, the director made them do another take of it, which everyone was very happy about. There was a major standing ovation.
Then it was over.
Luckily I snuck in my digital camera and got some pretty good shots (considering I had to hide my camera and couldn’t get very good angles)
I found Todd and Karen, we talked for about five minutes before making our way out of the building. We planned to go find her bus again, I wanted a picture of it.
She high tailed it out of there. It was no where to be seen.
Todd and Karen said they could read her lips (the got in the front row) she kept saying “I’m really about to be on the road again”.
I hugged both Todd and Karen goodbye and headed home.
I just feel so fortunate to have met such nice people and to have finally accomplished one of my dreams, which was seeing Dolly live.
I am thanking my lucky stars and my angels for allowing me to be there.
I am so blessed!