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Loretta Lynn proved iconic stature at Chastain

LorettaLynn20STORY AND PHOTOS BY MAX BLAU

If all the signs appear to be true, Tennessean country legend Loretta Lynn may be on the verge of a late-career renaissance. She’s adamantly stated recently that she’s not done making music, and she seems to have a few plans up her sleeves (including one with Merle Haggard and possibly others). All this talk aside, none of it has phased Lynn live, as evidenced by her impressive show at Chastain Park Amphitheatre Friday night.

Her focus remained entirely on her fans’ experience, giving them the best possible, drawing an audience that nearly filled up three-quarters of Chastain Park’s capacity. Her daughters, Patsy and Peggy, showed off their talents during their first few songs, while prompting the crowd to buy Loretta merchandise.

Loretta Lynn soon took her rightful place onstage, and as she made her way through her set, she stopped in between songs, chatting with her audience and imploring them to requests songs.

“What do you want to hear?,” she said. “It’s your show.”

It was a question posed at least three different times throughout the night, and resulted in Lynn’s show naturally being filled with classics. She played her staples “You Ain’t Woman Enough,” “You’re Looking at Country” and “Fist City,” as well as some deeper gospel cuts.

Dressed in one of her trademark blue gowns, Lynn mostly stood still during her set (one of her bandmates joked that was because the dress weighed more than her), sticking closely to her guns and letting her incredible voice do the talking. One of her backup singers even commented to the Tennessean singer that she sounded better than she has in a long time. She glibly snapped back, asking if he was looking for a raise.

Her band, The Coal Miners, deserved it on this particular night. The octet, led by guitarist/vocalist Bart Hanson, elevated the show’s dynamic to another level, filling in around her shortcomings as an aging artist–which includes necessary mid-performance rests and, voice aside, a relatively forgettable stage presence.

The Coal Miners picked up the slack, and harkened back to recall some of Lynn’s finer moments. Hanson filled Conway Twitty’s iconic role as the two performed “Lead Me On.” Lynn’s steel pedal player, Charlie Archer, originally played with Twitty for years, and helped accentuating numerous key moments within last night’s performance.

Toward the end of Lynn’s set, she continued her back-and-forth banter with the crowd, threatening to berate former President Jimmy Carter if he wasn’t in the audience supporting her. “I wonder if Jimmy Carter came to see me tonight,” she quipped. “If not he’s goin’ to hear from me.”

LorettaLynn34After nearly finishing her set, Lynn and her band performed the song nearly everyone had waited for–her classic single and unofficial anthem, “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” Although the rest of her set was solid–albeit relatively short and a bit unpolished–there’s nothing like a legend reaffirming one’s belief in her work with the single performance of a single song.

That’s exactly what happened during the waning moments of the 80-year-old country star’s evening in Atlanta. It’s indicative of Lynn’s music–many of her songs are simply undeniable. Above all–between the individual songs and stage banter–Loretta Lynn proved that she very likely will continue to be Queen of Country Music for a while to come.

(Check out our photo gallery from the show.)

46 comments Add your comment

Jim warren

August 25th, 2012
9:20 am

Great review and it’s respectful take on a true legend. Wish I had been there out to pay tribute to this great treasure that is Loretta Lynn.

Rick in Macon

August 25th, 2012
9:26 am

Why would anyone want that idiot Jimmy Carter in the audience?!?!?

Kat

August 25th, 2012
9:32 am

Saw her at the Cobb Energy Center last year. She’s a fantastic singer with an undeniable stage presence.

Jenny

August 25th, 2012
10:15 am

Loretta Lynn is from Kentucky not Tennessee.

Gresham Brown

August 25th, 2012
10:22 am

But what about the black people?

Ido DEE Clair

August 25th, 2012
10:25 am

Was sonya Liegh there too?

I was there

August 25th, 2012
10:42 am

Great concert from a true legend. @Gresham well what about the black people? They weren’t there because there was no rap, hip hop, vulgar language, no smell of dope, and not one single fight broke out anywhere. Yes Sonya Leigh was there.

Rod

August 25th, 2012
10:47 am

Great write up on this living legend Melissa. Was truly an honor to see Loretta Lynn at my favorite ATL venue and you could really feel the love radiating throughout the audience for her. Did not matter if you are a country western fan or not, Loretta’s voice was beautiful and legendary. It was such a perfect and intimate place to see Loretta. Had my binocs and can say that she looks amazing at 80 years old. It blows me away that anyone at the age of 80 would have enough energy to perform but we are all blessed that she does! Her classic dress was priceless but I have to say I don’t how she tolerated the heat being covered from neck to toe and long sleeves. It was funny that the band said her dress probably weighed more than her. Her twin daughters are gorgeous too and very cool how they came out to pay tribute to their mom with a compassionate introduction and honky tonk music they song. Thank you Loretta for the goose bumps and a truly, unforgettable celebration of 50 years of your music. You planted many seeds of love last night in the ATL <3

I was there

August 25th, 2012
10:52 am

Sonya must have a family and friends following, they were going nuts over her. She’s local, she’s a good singer, but head banging and leaping all over the place like a squirrel just doesn’t fit in with the queen of country. She was good filler for the first hour, that’s about it.

John

August 25th, 2012
11:55 am

Please, AJC staff-stop overusing the words “icon” and “iconic.” Those words hardly ever showed up in headlines or articles in the AJC until a few years ago; now, hardly a day goes by without someone being described as an icon or iconic. At the rate you folks are running the words into the ground, there won’t be any non-icons around in a few more years.

Bill

August 25th, 2012
12:08 pm

Loretta has lived in Tennessee for probably 50 years so I think it is OK to call her a Tennessean. It is strange to see her called that twice in the review, though. As for John’s comment, words like icon and legend are overused, but they both apply in the case of Loretta Lynn.

John II

August 25th, 2012
12:31 pm

Loretta Lynn is from Van Lear, Kentucky. Johnson County. Butcher Holler.

Get Real

August 25th, 2012
12:50 pm

What about the black people? Huh?

Marie

August 25th, 2012
1:05 pm

Did she sing anything from Van Lear Rose?

I was there

August 25th, 2012
1:16 pm

@Get Real, the subject of black people has been answered once. There were no black people there. Apparently it wasn’t their type of music. The audience was peaceful, polite, respectfully quiet so others could hear the music, and not one gunshot was heard during the entire concert.

casper09

August 25th, 2012
1:21 pm

gresham brown you know i moved here to atlanta like 12 years ago i have never forgotten the fact this atlanta is the south but really never knew they still have so many bigotsleft in this town just plain trash when it comes to black people as well as white there is enough of negativeto go around i am taken back that more folks dont call these folks out but as i said from the beginning this is atlanta

Bill

August 25th, 2012
1:28 pm

Too bad no black people at the concert last night. Black culture, people are an underrated part of country music. A black man taught Hank Williams how to play guitar. There is no more popular Opry star than Charley Pride.

I was there

August 25th, 2012
2:33 pm

casper09: Two people have minor injuries after a shooting following a rowdy concert by rapper Tyga (TY’-guh) in Nebraska. Authorities say heated words were exchanged between members of Tyga’s act and some audience members Monday night at Sokol Auditorium, south of downtown Omaha. Some garbage was thrown on stage. A brief fistfight broke out between band members and people from the audience after the show. Police say shots were fired at the band’s van and trailer from a car that followed the van for a few blocks.
——————————————-

According to police, at least thirteen people were shot outside of a nightclub in Tempe, Arizona, while waiting on rapper Nipsy Hussle to take the stage, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Now call me a bigot for stating the facts.

@Bill, Whether Charlie Pride is the greatest country singer of all time is up to each person’s view. I think he’s in the top 3, yes, but Hank Williams is No. 1. At least to me.

John (again)

August 25th, 2012
2:57 pm

I agree with Bill- although the AJC’s overuse of words like “icon” and “legend” drive me crazy (my wife says I need to get a life-she’s probably right)-Loretta Lynn has in fact earned those labels.

Bill

August 25th, 2012
3:07 pm

I’m not saying Charley is the best country singer of all time, but he is arguably the most popular current Opry star. I say this based on the audience reaction at the Opry, which is always a standing ovation and loud roars and applause. IMO George Jones is the best country singer of all time (although not any longer) and Hank is the greatest country star overall ever and one of the best songwriters in history.

susan fountain

August 25th, 2012
3:30 pm

Sonia is the next generation. Amazing. .All that critical acclaim is well warranted. Oh and btw? if you wanted to berate her, how about not misspelling her name.

TonJ

August 25th, 2012
3:43 pm

I’m black and love Loretta Lynn. I also love Crystal Gayle and Dolly Parton. I used to watch Hee Haw as a child and The Barbara Mandrell & the Mandrell Sisters Show was one of my favorites. Please try not to lump all people together based on something superficial. Black people and hip hop culture are not one in the same.

I was there

August 25th, 2012
3:59 pm

@susan fountain, maybe Sonia is the next generation. I think that’s why people like Loretta Lynn and Charlie Pride bring in such big audiences, because the old type of country music is dying out and people want to see it live before it’s gone. People like George Jones, Charlie Pride, Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, they were the greats. We will miss them. Oh, and just because someone does not like Sonia’s music does not mean they are berating her, they are just stating their opinion, just as you are allowed to do. You apparently like her, I apparently don’t, so neither one of us is wrong. I was not impressed enough by her performance to even remember how to spell her name. That’s my opinion whether you agree with me or not. TonJ and I are of opposite opinions, also, but she is allowed to voice hers, too. Deal with it.

jimbo

August 25th, 2012
4:33 pm

excellent article. loretta lynn is a tennessee musician. she’s from kentucky, but now lives in tennessee, jenny!

CMH

August 25th, 2012
5:16 pm

I truly didn’t know what to expect from an 80 year old artist but must say I was impressed with the Queen’s performance. Loretta sang her heart out, and the audience rewarded her with its love, respect, and wild applause. Her band and her daughters did a great job filling in any gaps. It was a great evening at Chastain

Kyle

August 25th, 2012
5:42 pm

I agree 100% with that statement Rick. A real patriotic country singer would quit singing and leave if that anti-American scumbag was in the audience.

Rick in Macon

August 25th, 2012
9:26 am

Why would anyone want that idiot Jimmy Carter in the audience?!?!?

Paula

August 25th, 2012
6:16 pm

I’ve seen Loretta Lynn perform in person twice, the first time just two years ago, and I became an instant fan. She holds an audience with her presence, singular voice, warmth and wit.

susan fountain

August 25th, 2012
6:51 pm

Mr or miss “i was there”. Not one word said contesting your right to an opinion. Why all all the hostility. I am a huge old school country fan and am open minded enough I can like and find attributes in either.

ragman

August 25th, 2012
8:02 pm

George Jones is still with us, He has had many health issues, but still is respected for his great ability to sing country and entertain it’s fans

Scott Anderson

August 25th, 2012
10:00 pm

just love her songs and what a sweet person she is.

Keep going LL ………….. you are fantastic !

missnadine

August 25th, 2012
10:43 pm

You do realize that Gresham Brown is no doubt a white person who just added that comment to steer everyone toward a racist debate. Of course some of you fell for it…

Bill

August 25th, 2012
11:38 pm

@ragman, I know George is still alive, but his voice is nothing like it used to be. Nothing. Frank Sinatra used to call Jones the “second best singer in the world.” (Behind himself obviously.) Jones was that good. Listen to how smooth his voice was on You Tube sometime. Listen to him do “The Grand Tour.” In a way, he reminds me of Luther Vandross in that both were so smooth. No Jones couldn’t sing like Luther. But Luther couldn’t sing like George, either.

Another thought about Loretta. Like many of today’s hip hop singers, when Loretta was in her prime, she was criticized for singing about things frowned upon by society. Such as “The Pill.” I will bet you she would get along well with today’s hip hop artists.

Bill

August 25th, 2012
11:42 pm

@TonJ: If there is one thing that black and white people can agree on, it’s that Junior Samples was funny as hell. I think Junior was from the Atlanta area. Cumming? Commerce?

Skylooper

August 26th, 2012
7:26 am

I have seen country evolve from Delmore Bro’s and Hank Penny ,and too many other greats to mention,to what today is called country .Can’t be too critical , as I was a Willie Nelson when most people didn’t understand what he was doing.Played where Brenda Gayle got her start,before the name change to Crystal .Everyone has an opinion on whos’ the greatest writer ,instrumentalist, singer , performer , etc.I am still playing four nights a week ,at the age of 77 .. Just enjoy the music ,and give each performer his due . The high point of my musical “career ?” was opening for the great Mr.Razzy Baily . Happy Sunday Morning to all , and God bless……

Skylooper

August 26th, 2012
8:50 am

Meant to say ” Country Music evolve ” and “Willie Nelson fan . “

WOW

August 26th, 2012
9:37 am

I am a huge Loretta Lynn fan and know most of her songs, I am sure her concert was awesome and she gave a great performance as usual. With that said after reading some of the comments below, it should be self explanatory why I don’t go to Loretta Lynn concerts. The ignorance that I am bound to come in contact with. Such stereotypical conversation. It’s so nice to moving in a different direction and leaving people with ignorance on their tongues to their own demise.

Hillbilly D

August 26th, 2012
11:38 pm

I think Junior was from the Atlanta area. Cumming? Commerce?

Junior was from Cumming.

a relatively forgettable stage presence.

I wasn’t at this show but stage presence is nothing more than the ability to command the audience’s attention. I’ve seen Merle Haggard come out, say good evening, sing all his songs, say goodnight, and leave the stage. While the music was playing, every eye in the house was on him and you could hear a pin drop; that’s stage presence. I saw Loretta many years ago and she had it, as well. The great ones do; they let the music speak for itself.

Courtney

August 27th, 2012
1:17 pm

Race and Music have no limitations. I am Black and I love Loretta Lynn. She is all Woman to me and that says a lot. Her music just makes you feel all sorts of things from happy to sad just like Dolly and Patsy Cline. A TRUE LEGEND!!!!

RUTH PLENCNER

August 27th, 2012
5:12 pm

I love Loretta Lynn and have seen her in concert once. I love Charlie Pride too I love Country music. Wish I could go to Nashville, but no money to go.

Peggy

August 27th, 2012
5:32 pm

Sonia Leigh was amazing! I’m surprised at the disrespect……she has shared the stage with Loretta before & Loretta CHOSE Sonia to open for her knowing full well who she is & what she brings….fans “jumping like squirrles” and all! And its not just family & friends….SL has a big following of loyal fans from coast to coast. Like Loretta fans have always sat with their legs crossed & barely tapped their feet……she was a doozy in her time just like Sonia is now. Ya think that’s why Loretta loves her? I enjoyed them both very much!

susan fountain

August 27th, 2012
6:15 pm

Here here Peggy! I ve been called way worse than JS in my time.

peggy

August 27th, 2012
6:57 pm

I was at the concert Friday night .Sonia was great.Loretta was greiat and there was some black people there. Enjoying the show.Sonia was just doing what she does.Call it jumping around A lot of performers do.
t

Larry

August 27th, 2012
7:16 pm

I was there and it was FANTASTIC!!!! The energy the audience had and the loved they showed for Loretta! The QUEEN OF COUNTRY sounded AMAZING!!!! Looked every bit like royalty! Her daughters Peggy and Patsy also gave a OUTSTANDING performce! Anyone who hasnt seen a Loretta Lynn concert is missing out! She is the bridge to the past. As for the racist comments, there were black people in the audience. There was no riots or shootings…. Everyone there to see the Queen!

Jenn

August 27th, 2012
7:29 pm

Believe it or not, I attended the concert because both Loretta and Sonia were playing together. If it had just been one or the other, I would not have driven for hours and hours to see this show. Loretta is a heroine to Sonia. I enjoyed seeing the mix of Sonia’s southern rock paired with Loretta’s old-school country. I drove to the concert listening to Sonia, and drove home listening to Loretta.Younger artists like Sonia, who pay homage to their upbringing and respect and cherish the older generation, will help keep legends like Loretta, Willie, Hank, Johnny, etc. alive in our hearts. There is no need for competition and bickering in music and between music fans. It serves no purpose other than to separate people, when the whole point of music and concerts is to bring people together. God bless.

Anne

August 27th, 2012
10:14 pm

First of all, if you knew anything about the Queen Of Country, you would know that she is not 80 years old….I was there and visit a fair amount of shows of Loretta’s whenever I am able….The show was awesome!!! I didn’t know if I would like Sonya Leigh, never heard of her but she was pretty good…..and as for the racist thingy….why bother, the review had nothing to do with that…but Loretta ain’t a racist either….but there were several OUTSIDE the arena trying to make a buck or two off her…..shame on you people, black, white, green or yellow….you disgust me…..

I was there 2

August 28th, 2012
1:59 pm

Sonia is traditional and as honest as they come. She did great. Didn’t know if may I was there or others that commented about her having family and friends at show realized her national fan club is know as the “Fam O Leigh” so in a sense they were right! LOL. Loretta didn’t disappoint and it was an overall epic show. Part of being a music lover in the truest sense is being able to find appreciation in all kinds of music and the labor that is put forth in producing music. Tolerance for something that isn’t your cup of tea defines a true lover of the art. That being said, I just have to wonder what the heck IWT was listening too as I found Sonia Leigh, amazing , on point and the real deal. Also, leaving the venue,I can’t count how many people who stopped me and asked about my shirt (SL of course baby). They had never heard or heard of her before but were all about learning more about her, her music, her story and how they could get more info (www. sonialeigh.com)