Iconic rockabilly/cowpunk crooner Dwight Yoakam is touring in support of his acclaimed album ‘3 Pears’
The evolution of country music has been schizophrenic the last 30 years, going from traditional to bland pop to neo-traditional to a harder rock edge and back again with no seeming rhyme or reason. These days Nashville seems dominated by the guys doing country rock and the ladies pure pop.
However, there are some artists who have stood their ground as the changes swirled around them,determined to let their musical inspiration be dictated by what their heart tells them is right.
One of the most brilliant of these country artists is Dwight Yoakam, who ironically enough, managed to stay true to himself by bypassing Nashville and going west to southern California, where he developed his own unique twist on the Bakersfield sound of roadhouse rockabilly and wailing laments about pain and heartache. He not only found success with the cowpunk movement, but also as an acclaimed character actor in such movies as Sling Blade, Crank, Panic Room and The Newton Boys.
Now he is back with an acclaimed new album, 3 Pears, his first one of new music in seven years, and a tour that stops at the Golden Nugget this Saturday, Jan. 26.
A few years back he talked about his career with Atlantic City Weekly and his work toward a new album.
“It sounds trite to say I can’t label what I do. Certainly it’s country music, but I know it has transcended that at various times. I’ve been writing of lot of things recently for an upcoming album that I hope to do this year that is beyond [the country] boundary.”
He also noted that his acting career was also based on an interest in acting that paralleled his interest in making music.
“I did theater growing up, nothing sophisticated, high school, but then I set it aside. I did a play when I first got to California and realized that actors are at the mercy of opportunity, that it’s a struggle, so I focused on my first love, my music.”
"When I really decided I wanted to do this, it was during The Highwaymen tour. I was probably about 15; that’s when country became like rock ’n’ roll to me. I remember Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson. It was nothing fancy they were doing but it was very hardcore."
Dwight Yoakam is out on tour with new music for the first time in a while, seven years to be exact, and that gave his concert last night at the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City an extra spark. Not that Yoakam has ever needed added motivation to be engaged and dynamic on-stage.
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This is exactly why I spend my working vacation every year at the Toronto International Film Festival. The 35th TIFF takes place this year from Sept. 9-19. This will be my 23rd trip to cover the global cinematic feast. The festival has grown from an understated, unpretentious celebration of emerging filmmakers, to a film festival that officially launches the Oscar buzz season
Dwight Yoakam ignored the conventions of the “get them back to the tables” casino show. He walked out on the Circus Maximus stage at Caesars and proceeded to put on a two-hour plus show that by my count included over 35 songs.
Singer-songwriter Dwight Yoakam, who headlines at Caesars this Friday, was the original cowpunk crooner, a visionary who never was a Nashville insider. After he was rejected by the Nashville set in the early 1980s, during one of Music City’s bland pop periods, he went to California, following the trail blazed by his musical heroes Merle Haggard and Buck Owens and developed his own unique twist on the Bakersfield sound of roadhouse rockabilly and wailing laments about pain and heartache.