WHO IS HE
The denim-clad outlaw king of modern country music, Dwight Yoakam's almost 30 years as a recording artist have been defined by a stubborn originality as much as his long string of hits.
Born in Kentucky, raised in Ohio and spit out by a glossy Nashville scene that prized anything but pure country music, Yoakam landed in Los Angeles in the early '80s, playing his hillbilly music at rock and punk clubs alongside bands like The Blasters and Los Lobos.
But Yoakam's distinctive voice—honeyed twang with plenty of vibrato—was too good for toiling off the radar and after recording an EP on his own dime, Reprise Records came calling.
Now 57, Yoakam is not only one of the most legendary country singer-songwriters of all time, but an actor whose roles tend to have a harsh realism, most notably as an abusive alcoholic in "Sling Blade." A consummate entertainer, Yoakam won the 2013 Artist of the Year Award from the Americana Music Association. Last time in Tucson, Yoakam and his electrifying band tore through 28 songs (as a special treat for Arizonans, look for Yuma's Eugene Edwards on lead guitar).
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The acoustic dwightyoakamacoustic.net is 25 songs of acoustic guitar and voice (save for a single electric guitar overdub on "Little Sister"), proving that Yoakam's talents need nothing else.
"Guitars, Cadillacs," 1986. The title hit from Yoakam's debut record is a perfect burst of Bakersfield twang and was recently ranked as No. 94 on Rolling Stone's 100 greatest country songs.
"It Won't Hurt," 1986. The third single from Yoakam's debut is an example of his fine songwriting, firmly in the booze-and-heartache realm of traditional country, but sparkling with his particular perspective and wit.
"A Thousand Miles from Nowhere," 1993. The triple platinum "This Time" found Yoakam moving away from traditionalism as he came into his own. Entrenched in heartache, loneliness and yearning, the song found its perfect visual match in a video on a train crossing the Arizona desert.
"Crazy Thing Called Love," 1999. Yoakam can sing Buck Owens' tunes as easy as breathing, and he had a hit in 1989 with Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman's "Little Sister," but this Queen cover is pure genius.
"Take Hold Of My Hand," 2012. The first track on Yoakam's latest album, "3 Pears," is proof that he's nowhere near done thrilling longtime fans or breaking through to a younger generation.
Dwight Yoakam performs at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 27 at the Fox Theatre, 17 W. Congress St. The show is sold out. 547-3040. foxtucsontheatre.com.