Country crooner Dwight Yoakam has made his mark on national — and international — audiences for the better half of two decades. And it seems that his throwback Bakersfield sound, tall hat and tight, tight jeans have made quite the mark on Austin, too.
On his most recent trip through town, which included a two-show engagement at ACL Live, Yoakam got more than just his customary time in the spotlight. He was also made an “honorary citizen” of the Live Music Capital of the World on Friday, July 13.
Born in Kentucky and raised in Ohio, Yoakam has been a California resident since the mid-80s when his twangy, “too country for Nashville” sound brought 60s-style honky-tonk to a new generation. He's produced widely accessible albums, from freshman release Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc., to his latest self-produced 3 Pearls, but Yoakam has never called Austin "home."
It isn’t a stretch for a trailblazer like Dwight Yoakam to be welcomed as one of our own. Austin's music history is rooted in genre-bending outlaws — Janis Joplin, Doug Sahm, Townes VanZandt — who, like Yoakam, took less-traveled roads to create unique styles of music. Yoakam’s influence is also felt in Austin, where music that might be “too country” elsewhere is championed and finds a home among the rootsy, rockabilly scene.
Over the years, Dwight sightings have been a welcome occurrence for Austinites who still dig solid country music that's the opposite of the overproduced, radio-friendly sound waves coming from Tennessee. Yoakam has played a host of Austin gigs, including famed early-career appearances on Austin City Limits in 1986 and 1989.
“Mr. Yoakam embodies the essence of what live music is about,” said City of Austin Music Program Manager, Don Pitts. “With his participation in iconic Austin staples such as the Austin City Limits music program and his multiple visits over the years, we are delighted to see him return and are proud to name him an honorary Austinite.”
With his new citizenship, Yoakam joins the ranks of an eclectic group of honorary Austinites that includes Tim Curry, Adam West and Chuck Norris.
Yoakam is currently on a national tour that includes a few more dates in Texas. There are no Austin shows on his calendar, but if you do happen to see him, make sure you give a warm, Texas welcome to Austin's newest "Honky Tonk Man."