Album Reviews

Buck Owens/Dwight Yoakam: Live From Austin, TX (New West)

 

 

Buck Owens: Live From Austin, TX
Dwight Yoakam: Live From Austin, TX
New West Records

Sunday, October 23, 1988 was a date where two generations of Country stars came together on the same stage in Austin, Texas, and the performance was captured live for posterity on Austin City Limits. On that evening, Bakersfield Sound pioneer Buck Owens performed with Dwight Yoakam, a young man who had made it quite clear that he owed his sound and his style to Owens. Yoakam had become a country sensation with his debut album, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. and hit singles “Honky Tonk Man” and “Guitars, Cadillacs.”

Though Yoakam is a consummate live act, his performance this evening starts off surprisingly stiff. For opening number “Guitars, Cadillacs,” he seems nervous, distracted, and the performance is unusually shaky; following with “Smoke Along The Tracks” and “What I Don’t Know,” he starts to warm up, clowning around, a big grin coming across his face. The rest of the set, he’s in fine form, as he delivers classics “Honky Tonk Man,” “Buenos Noches From A Lonely Room,” and “Little Sister, with Owens making an appearance on their hit duet, “Streets of Bakersfield,” the master graciously handing over the reins to his pupil.

Owens, of course, had nothing to prove, and though his set is surprisingly brief, he packs in a greatest hits set in eleven songs and thirty minutes that serves his legacy quite well and doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of Owens’s brilliance. The hits are here; “Act Naturally,” “Tiger By The Tail,” “Crying Time,” and “Put Another Quarter In The Jukebox.” Yoakam makes an appearance to duet on “Under Your Spell Again,” and he’s both nervous and excited to be appearing aside his hero. Concluding with a surprisingly spry cover of Chuck Berry’s “Memphis, Tennessee,” Owens may have been in the latter part of his career, but he was absolutely no slouch.

Owens would pass away in 2006, shortly after performing a concert he had intended to cancel due to not feeling well. After learning fans had traveled hundreds of miles to see him, he decided the show must go on, and would pass away from a heart attack in his sleep. He has since become recognized for being both a pioneer and an innovator of modern country music—thanks, in part, to his pupil, Dwight Yoakam, who is still performing and recording to date. This quiet Sunday evening was one for the books.

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