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Pam Tillis brings country greatness to Dennison Theatre

Pam Tillis sparkled in a show at the Dennison Theatre
Pam Tillis sparkled in a show at the Dennison TheatreChelle S Imaging

Thanks to the Missoula County Deputy Sheriff's Association, Missoula got to experience one of country music's classiest acts, Pam Tillis. Pam is the daughter of the legendary Mel Tillis, and has amassed quite a legacy of her own.

My reminder of the incredible concert with Pam Tillis
My reminder of the incredible concert with Pam TillisBob Leggett

The show was opened by comedian Kermet Apio. Now to be honest I am super critical of most comedians who try to garner laughs by saying the most inappropriate things. To his credit, Apio was not one of those types of comedians. He was funny by being honest. As a middle-aged comedian, his sense of humor was honest and based on real-life circumstances that I could relate to, like cassettes, Muppets, growing up in the 70's-80's, etc.

Apio was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, a city I love. Since then, Apio has toured through 47 of our 50 States, as well as internationally, bringing his relatable comedy to the masses. I thoroughly enjoyed his routine, and found the time flew by. If you have the chance to see Apio, I highly recommend taking that time, especially if you grew up in the 70's-80's.

Apio gave way to Tills and her acoustic trio (Aria Styles on violin and mandolin and Mary Sue Englund on piano, violin and guitar), who mesmerized the Dennison with a barrage of some of country music's greatest songs. I had not seen Tillis in quite a few years and had forgotten how many of her songs I loved. Tillis' set reminded me and the rest of the audience how much country music owes to this songstress.

From her opening number of Mi Vida Loca, Tillis took us on a roller coaster ride through her multitude of #1 hits, including Shake the Sugar Tree, In Between Dances, Queen of Denial, Spilled Perfume, Let That Pony Run, All the Good Ones are Gone, and concluding with her biggest hit, Maybe it was Memphis. Along the way, she also covered Patsy Cline (Walking After Midnight) and the Beatles (I Wanna Hold Your Hand). She also joined with Englund to sing the powerful ballad I am a Woman, which is included on Tillis' new album with Lori Morgan.

Interspersed through the great songs was Tillis wit as she told many anecdotes about growing up in a house full of musical greatness and her interactions with many of the greats, including Roger Miller, Minnie Pearl, her father Mel and Loretta Lynn.

After the show was over, Tillis took her place in the lobby, where she spoke to everyone in attendance and signed autographs. "I'm not leaving until the last person has had their chance to talk to me," said Tillis as she finished her set. It was a beautiful reminder of the way it once was when musical artists performed. It was so good to have the chance to talk to Tillis again - it had been far too many years since our last conversation.