Dwight Yoakam didn’t invent the Bakersfield Sound; they say that was Wynn Stewart. And he wasn’t its biggest star; that’d be Buck Owens or maybe Merle Haggard.
But Yoakam sure did keep it alive during the 1980s and 1990s, even as the new Nashville sound of Garth Brooks and Shania Twain drifted further from country’s honky-tonk dance hall roots. The Bakersfield Sound is now deep into its 60s and still alive and well thanks to Yoakam.
For those of us who prefer a little boogie-
woogie in our traditional country — as opposed to, say, the lush strings of 1960s Nashville or the slick, urban-cowboy influence of 1980s and 1990s Nashville — that’s enough reason to recommend Yoakam, who plays the Yakima Valley SunDome on Tuesday. But there’s a lot more to him than torchbearer or traditionalist.
He’s an immediately identifiable singer, a dynamic live performer and a songwriter of plainspoken profundity. Early in his career, he earned the respect of his idol, Owens. And now, more than three decades in, he has been cited as a favorite of the generation that followed him, including guys like Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell.
Yoakam has become the stuff of legend. He’s lent his talents as an actor to such disparate films as “Sling Blade” and “Logan Lucky,” the former a difficult 1996 drama in which he plays a hell of a villain, the latter a light but energetic heist comedy in which he plays a prison warden. And he’s lent his name to the Dwight Yoakam’s Bakersfield Biscuits brand.
Now, I don’t know if the biscuits are any good or not. But the movies are. And, to be honest, I don’t care if the biscuits taste like sawdust, and Yoakam never makes another film appearance; this is the man who wrote and sang “A Thousand Miles from Nowhere.” This is the man who bridged the gap between Buck Owens and Sturgill Simpson. He’s earned my affection already.
If you go
What: Dwight Yoakam
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Yakima Valley SunDome at State Fair Park, 1301 S. Fair Ave.
Tickets: $29, $44, $59, $74, $99