The country girl: Dolly Diamond
Melbourne entertainer Dolly Diamond is getting ready to head up to Daylesford’s ChillOut, and she spoke with Andrew Shaw about her plans.
Dolly Diamond is one of those people who has a unique ability to entertain – whether it be singing or hosting an evening – if you’re in Melbourne you would have seen her perform.
Her next gig is at Daylesford’s ChillOut festival over the Labour Day Long Weekend, a country festival that she says inspires and energises her. Just don’t mention those floral Laura Ashley dresses...
“I like it when people where Laura Ashley dresses,” Dolly enthuses. “It gives me something to laugh at.”
Dolly’s weekend sees her doing a lot, often with the talented Mr Luke Gallagher by her side. Her first event is a luncheon at Sault Restaurant. “They have this thing called The Slowest Lunch, where they all sit around and have a slow lunch – obviously. There’s also a lot of money-raising, we have a big auction and it’s amazing how generous people are at this auction.”
She has special techniques for extracting money from diners, too: “I think it’s because I stand there and hover over them,” she muses.
“There’s a lot to be said for that pressure that people feel. They also seem to need to compete against each other. It means more money and I like that.”
With so many entertainers in our clubs and pubs lip synching, Dolly is one a few who can actually entertain with her own voice – as she demonstrates in her ChillOut show, Dolly Diamond: More Than A Woman.
“The show’s really about paying a tribute to the women who’ve inspired me,” she says. “I mean over the years that’s been a lot of women: Judy, Liza, but there are also new people like Amy Winehouse. A little bit of Amy in there.
“I’ve worked with these guys [in her four-piece band] quite a lot now, they’re a small contingent of the big band that I work with. Having that live element, having that band, it just sounds so much better.
“I think people relish that live element and I certainly do. You can stop and start whenever you like, you know – if something catches my eye, if something gets on my nerves, I can just stop the music and destroy it.”
Originally from the UK, Dolly is a master of the cutting insult and possesses a darkly humorous wit, which means audience members need to be on their best behaviour... “But some people love sitting at the front using their mobile phone,” Dolly protests.
“Of course I encourage it... I don’t do it to be malicious, of course not. Just to enjoy myself.”
Luke and Dolly have been seen together around the traps for ages, and she admits it’s a match made in heaven. “It’s hard to do a show without him these days – you need someone to carry the costumes, at least,” she laughs. “And he’s such a wonderful performer, generally when he sings, not much more than that. He’s really like a right-hand man, and sometimes the left.”
Apart from her own show, Dolly will be hosting the main stage at Carnival Day and also going to the races at Kyneton. “I’m the in-between races entertainment. And I think I’m letting people know what the horses are. They are rather large, so I’m surprised people can’t figure that out on their own, but I’m also helping people have a punt.”
She will also appear in the Street Parade, in the past she’s been in a Mercedes, this year she’s thinking about a tractor. “I remember the first year doing it and we went round once and I said thank you, and they said, no, no, we go round a couple more times, and I said not with me. But I’m used to it now so I quite like going round a couple of times.”
And is it hard keeping herself together over such a long weekend? “It is incredibly difficult, because I do like a drink. I think the rule is one drink per hour. Yes, I’ve never kept to that rule, but that’s what I try to do.
"And I drink a lot of water. Not that weekend, but I do drink a lot of water.”
Here’s where you can experience Dolly Diamond over the ChillOut weekend:
The Slowest Lunch at Sault Restaurant, Friday, March 9
Country Races at Kyneton, Saturday, March 10
More Than A Woman, The Palais, Saturday, March 10, with special guest star Luke Gallagher
Main Stage, Carnival Day, Sunday, hosting with Luke Gallagher
See chilloutfestival.com.au for details.