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Dwight Yoakam at Annenberg Space for Photography, Saturday August 8th 2015

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Dwight Yoakam


Dwight Yoakam following X at the Annenberg Space for Photography during another KCRW-curated free concert, was not that surprising… after all, John Doe and Exene Cervenka’s respective solo careers are venturing into country, Exene is still wearing her cowboy boots, both acts are pure Los Angeles products and Yoakam’s career even finds its roots in the punk rock scene when he was sharing the stage with the Blasters, Los Lobos, and even X.

Dwight Yoakam gave us quite an arena show on Saturday night, with a long set of honky-tonk and rock songs, putting some rhinestone in country, literally, as his denim vest was decorated with a sparkling music notes on the back and each member of his band was shining in black sparkling vests.

Dwight Yoakam is an iconic performer and songwriter with about 21 studio albums and compilations (including 12 Gold and 9 Platinum albums) several Grammy Awards and tons of nominations since the 80’s, and it shows when you see him live, he is a star whom Johnny cash himself has called his ‘favorite country singer’, and the entire show sounded like a well-oiled machine. He was barely stopping between songs, getting a new guitar almost each time he was starting a new tune, linking up his songs in a non-stop country party, mixing his famous honky-tonk sound with some Tex Mex flavors, bluesy rock and some pure Cash-like gems… well he even covered ‘Ring of Fire’, darkening the song without its Mexican horns and making the famous tune his.

Even though I did not particularly know his repertoire, every song he played was hitting familiar territories, well-served by his nasal baritone… this is country music as I like it, diverse and real, and damn sexy… there even was a bit of Elvis in all this, and his cover of ‘Suspicious Minds’ during the encore was not the only connection, Yoakam‘s music often felt the King’s presence, something just reinforced by the energetic guitar action and ample gesture of his young lead guitarist, who was showing some King-worthy hip moves all-set long. And the best part of all this? It is probably the fact that I hear his new song ‘Second Hand Heart’ (off his last album) on my favorite LA radio station as often as any hot young band’s current hit… When Nashville has turned toward crappy mellow suave mainstream, Dwight Yoakam sounds like the keeper of the genre. Last night, far from being dusty, he was amazingly making the connection between Elvis, Cash and someone like Beck, who coproduced his 2012 album.

With his boot-cut tight jeans, and over-sized cowboy hat, he was looking at the audience the most static way, before doing one of his famous leg moves, turning on himself on one foot like the most perfect tourniquet. He did this many times, with a remarkable precision, like a veteran of the scene, like a rockstar he truly is.

Many pictures of the show here.


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