Santa Cruz Sentinel from Santa Cruz, California on April 18, 1986 · Page 86
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Santa Cruz Sentinel from Santa Cruz, California · Page 86

Santa Cruz, California
Issue Date:
Friday, April 18, 1986
Page 86
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6 Spotlight Sanfa Cr, c..: .. . .,.1Me, i-naav, Aoril ig, 19M 12 Spotlight Santa Cruz Sentinel Friday, April 18, 1986 Tonk f Dwight Yoakam, Joe Ely celebrate KHIP's birthday By DAVE GIN GOLD Sentinel Correspondent DWIGHT YOAKAM is a rising "tonk music" star. He describes bis band in emphatic terms: "We're a pure hillbilly band ... a honky-tonk band." Yoa karri's voice still retains some of the flavor of a Kentucky upbringing, as the singersongwriter spoke to The Sentinel by phone from his Los Angeles home. Yoakam opens a country-western "hip kicker" at 7 p.m. Sunday night at the Cocoanut Grove. Hard rockin' country star Joe Ely headlines the show, which celebrates the first birthday of radio station KHIP (93.5 FM). Yoakam has lived in Southern California for more than eight of his 29 years. listening to his debut album, "Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.," (currently driving up the country charts, as is a single, "Honky Tonk Man") one notices his more than bittersweet tone in discussing Los Angeles. "There ain't no glamour in this tinsled land of lost and wasted lives," is the way Yoakam puts it in music ... " ' V- " "S, Dwight Yoakam the song "Guitars, Cadillacs," from the album. He explains: "The song describes the universal experiences for people who move out here. It's literal ... but it's not. It's an overview of how trying it can be." It must not be all that bad. "I've lived here for almost nine years," Yoakam said. He is, in fact, very grateful to Los Angeles for his newfound stardom. He first brought his "hard country" music, as he describes it himself, to Nashville, the obvious jumping-off place for would-be country stars. But to no avail. Yoakam spoke of his experiences in Music City in the 1970s: "They told me 'You have too country a country act.' I mean, that's like saying 'You have a great blues act, but it's too bluesy,' You realize that the inmates are running the asylum." Disgruntled, but not discouraged, Yoakam "had no alternative but to do it elsewhere." Thus California, which, Yoakam said, had a more thriving country scene than did Nashville. "Rock was closer in the early '70s to what Hank Williams (Sr.) did than country," be explained, speaking of a fertile West Coast country-rock scene. Bakersfield, it turns out, had an active country music life throughout the '50s and '60s, with artists like Merle Haggard based there. And into the California country scene of the '70s, where resided Linda Rondstadt, Emmylou Harris, and the Eagles, came Pikesville, Kentucky's Dwight Yoakam. Yoakam came to know such roots-rock Los Angeles bands as the Blasters and Los Lobos. Both bands took him out on tour last year, and he credits the exposure with bringing him to the attention of major record labels. "I'll always be grateful to the rock audiences that supported us," he said. Although his music was "mislabeled 'cowpunk'," be admits that he was "associated with (that L.A. musical mini-scene) on the periphery." For anyone who has forgotten what cowpunk was supposed to be, "Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc." featues a duet between Yoakam and Maria McKee of the L.A. cowpunk band Lone Justice. His first major move was a six-song EP that be released on an independent label in 1984. Only 5,000 of the discs were pressed, and it received almost no distribution or airplay, according to Yoakam. When he was approached by Warner Brothers for a multi-record deal, Yoakam saw to it that the E.P. work was included I Joe in its entirety on his first album. "Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc." also contains four new songs, and is an excellent introduction to the considerable craft of Yoakam's hard country songs. After his fight for the re-release of the EP material, Yoakam is at least "I wouldn't be honest if I didn't say I want to get my music in front of as many people as I can." Dwight Yoakam enjoying a receptive market for his music. "Stations like KHIP, and alternative and college stations have been a great boon," be said. Mainstream country radio has "pleasantly surprised" Yoakam by taking to the record as well. "Stations gave it a chance, and that's all I could ask for," he said. Yoakam's family, who remain in Kentucky and in Ohio, originally pushed him to pursue something more stable than music, but are now thrilled at his success, and they aren't the only ones. About the success of his album, Yoakam admitted, "We thought we'd have to work a lot harder." Having Just returned from a gig in Ely New York City with Minneapolis' Husker Du, Dwight Yoakam was looking forward to bringing his show to Santa Cruz. "It's a great band," he said, of the unit he's worked with for over three years. It features guitarist Pete Anderson, a longtime Yoakam as- sociate who produced his first re cord, lending it some hot playing. The last laugh seems to belong to Yoakam, whose "Honky Tonk Man" video is being aired on the Nashville Network, as well as other video venues. "I have creative control. I can make the music I want to make." As far as future plans, he said "I wouldn't be honest if I didn't say I want to get my music in front of as many people as I can." Slated to record a new LP in September, it looks like Dwight Yoakam is getting just what he wants. Advance tickets to Dwight Yoakam and Joe Ely are available at Cymbaline Records and all BASS outlets. Tickets will also be available at the door.. '.'.'.'

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