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REVIEW: Loretta Lynn brings 50 years of music to Penticton

Penticton amongst country royalty with Loretta Lynn at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Country legend Loretta Lynn performed at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton on Oct. 22.

Penticton was amongst royalty Tuesday as the Queen of Country, Loretta Lynn, worked through five decades of hits.

The honky tonk girl was a long way from her birthplace of Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, when she hit the stage in Penticton at the South Okanagan Events Centre on Tuesday but she looked right at home, greeted by a standing ovation. Lynn brought class with her white ball gown adorned in sparkling rhinestones, a charming wit and a truckload of songs the audience loved.

"This is your show whatever you want to hear holler it out. It doesn't mean I'm going to sing it, it just gives you a good chance to holler," said Lynn, bringing a round of laughter from the audience. "We all need something to holler about."

Having just suffered two broken ribs about a month and a half ago, no one was the wiser. The 81-year-old poked fun at herself for a slight slip-up on the lyrics to Blue Kentucky Girl and apologized for having a bit of a cold. Her bandmates teased they would sell her Kleenex on eBay later.

Lynn said she started her career just across the border from Vancouver singing in Bill's Tavern and it was a Canadian who set her up to go to Los Angeles to cut her first single with Zero Records.

"And that is exactly what it made us, zero," she said.

From those grassroots blossomed a long and storied career. One in which she released songs that forged the way for independent women in country music. Lynn shared songs that touched on so many topics of her real life and pushed boundaries in a conservative world including a medley of The Pill and One's On The Way. In 1975 The Pill touched on a risque subject at the time and it was banned from a number of radio stations.

Paying homage to her partnership with Conway Twitty, that produced hit after hit and became one of the most successful duos in country music history, Lynn sang Lead Me On with guitarist/singer Bart Hansen.

Theshow which lasted just over and hour long, included Lynn's daughters Peggy and Patsy singing a few tunes off their latest album. Her Coal Miner's band, with players who have been with her for over 30 years, also shared the spotlight.

Celebrating 50 years in the business on this tour, Lynn is showing no signs of slowing down. In September she announced a slew of projects set for release, including one with Jack White (The White Stripes). It would be a reunion for the pair as White produced, sang and played various instruments on Lynn's 2004 record Van Lear Rose. Among her other projects are a Christmas album, a record of "mountain songs" and a religious album.

Lynn touched on some of those gospel songs with Everyone Wants to Go to Heaven and Where No One Stands Alone. She finished her set with the classic Coal Miner's Daughter and gracefully exited the stage to a roaring audience.

There is plenty to be said about the accolades and history Lynn has in the business, but she says it best herself, "If you're lookin' at me, you're lookin' at country."

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