The son of a gas-station owner and a key-punch operator, Dwight Yoakam was born in Pikeville, Kentucky, and raised in Columbus, Ohio, where he sang and played guitar with local garage bands. Yoakim wanted to play honky tonk, but the country music circuit had gravitated toward pop "urban cowboy" music, so in 1977 he moved to Los Angeles, California, where Los Lobos, X and other bands were marrying cowpunk with roots rock and punk rock. Yoakim has recorded more than 21 albums and compilations, charted more than 30 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, and sold more than 25 million records. On September 23, 2016, Yoakam will release his first exclusively-bluegrass album comprised of bluegrass covers of many of his biggest hits; it will be entitled Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars, perhaps paralleling his life path to the Beverley Hillbillies.
Later this year Yoakim will turn 60 years old, and his concert tonight at Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors AmericanaFest reflected in part the music of his childhood. Backed by his sequin-suited musicians, Brian Whelan on keyboards and guitar, Eugene Edwards on lead guitar, Jonathan Clark on bass, and Mitch Marine on drums, Yoakim sang 11 cover songs originally recorded by the likes of Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Johnny Horton. Opening with "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (and Loud, Loud Music)," Yoakim also performed nine songs from his own early career, including "A Thousand Miles from Nowhere", "Honky Tonk Man" and "Guitars, Cadillacs," plus four more recent songs. When the songs leaned towards traditional country music, Yoakim's rich hillbilly vocals crooned like silk, but his most driving songs were the rockabilly-inspired numbers. Yoakam is mostly associated with West Coast country, early cowpunk, and the Bakersfield Sound, but his concert successfully spanned the width of roots rock genres.
Visit Dwight Yoakim at www.dwightyoakam.com.