Tribute shows come in different packages. When the show is neatly packed it is first-class entertainment. When it is not, the audience can feel a bit cheated.
Not only must the performer(s) get the voice(s) down, but they must also nail the mannerisms and the quirkiness of those they are emulating.
That is not always easy. In fact, it is much harder than one might think. But, to get an idea of a nicely wrapped package, tightly wound with all the bells and whistles, check out Dolly & Kenny Together Again. As in Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers.
A recent show at the Wild Rose Casino in Clinton, Iowa, proved the point. When done right, it is a superb night of entertainment - and this was. Kudos go to the artists as well as the staff at the Wild Rose for making this a night to remember.
One never knows how these shows will go, especially with two artists set to perform. Meanwhile, the storied histories of both Rogers and Parton adds to the suspense and raises a few questions. How could they put it all in 90 minutes? Who would perform first? Will they come close to sounding like the originals? How will they look?
Those questions were answered and lifted the tribute show to another level. They not only looked like them, they did perfect the mannerisms and had the voices down pat. The crowd soaked it up and, as the stars noted after the show during a discussion, "it fit the demographic perfectly." Yes, the Wild Rose Casino does that well.
Dolly started, then Kenny, and then they joined each other on stage. Now, before simply using Kenny and Dolly all the time, they are Mark Hinds and Wendy T. They are seasoned performers who have done this act all over the world. Meanwhile, Wendy T also takes on Reba, among others, on other shows.
They have this act down and it played as a trip down memory lane, with the zest and personality of the two stars. A very entertaining aspect of the show is the ease of the artists as they talk with the audience, tell stories and sing all those hits. Whether it was "9 to 5," "Jolene" or "I Will Always Love You," she knocked it out of the casino. And whether it was "Lady," The Gambler" or "Coward of the County," he sold it and the audience never folded. Oh, let's not forget those duets which even included the ones not done with Dolly. Wendy T was up to the task for those as well.
After the show, it was noted by that the original Kenny has indeed used Mark, and Dolly loves the work of Wendy. They also play across the street from Dollywood in Tennessee, so their act is not lost on the performers they emulate.
Next up at the Wild Rose Casino in Clinton, Iowa, is a Beatles tribute show on Nov. 24; then on New Year's Eve, another tribute show is on tap. More later on that.
American English - The Complete Beatles Tribute
American English in concert perform songs covering the entire career of the Beatles from 1963-1970. With precise attention to every musical detail, along with costume changes, vintage instruments, and special effects, American English magically creates "The Complete Beatles Tribute"! See them on Saturday, Nov. 24 at 8 p.m. Don't forget to ask about those great deals on a hotel room. Book that New Year's Eve show right away.
Wild Rose Casino & Resort
777 Wild Rose Drive
Clinton, Iowa 52732
Toll Free: 800-457-9975
NOTE: Tim O'Brien hosts a Classic Country radio show on WZZT 102.7FM and an entertainment show on AM 1240 WSDR, both based in Sterling, Illinois - every weekday. He also owns and operates the O'Brien News Service. He spent several years working and living in Hollywood, bringing his experiences there to his work here.