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Dwight Yoakam returns for El Dorado concert


This article was published March 13, 2014 at 2:52 a.m.


Dwight Yoakam

Country singer-songwriter Dwight Yoakam has done a lot more than just sing and write songs and wear hats and tight jeans, especially in Arkansas. Back in 1995-96, Yoakam did some time hereabouts, around Benton, sitting on a front porch (with a guitar) and portraying a not-so-nice man in Billy Bob Thornton’s Academy Award-winning film Sling Blade.

In the movie, Yoakam’s character, Doyle Hargraves, is the “abusive, alcoholic boyfriend” of Linda Wheatley, who is portrayed by Little Rock actress Natalie Canerday. Yoakam is listed in the credits second only to Thornton.

Thornton’s film is not the only listing in Yoakam’s filmography, which also includes 25 other movies, plus seven TV roles.

But Yoakam is still playing music, which is what brings him to south Arkansas this weekend for a concert, one of only a small number so far announced for 2014 - eight shows in March, none in April and June, one in May and August and two in July. So obviously, opportunities to see the 57-year-old are few and far between.

Born in Pikeville, Ky., and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Yoakam was attracted to the stage in high school and college at Ohio State University, but it was for purposes of acting (which came in handy later). He moved to Nashville, Tenn., but found no appreciation for his talents there, so he headed west to Los Angeles, where he found appreciation for his talents in the music and movie communities. He fit into the “Bakersfield sound,” which had been pioneered by Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, and soon was part of the combined country and punk rock scenes that had him doing shows with The Blasters, X and Los Lobos.

Yoakam took charge of his own career, self-releasing the EP Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc., which was later enhanced with more cuts and released as a debut album by Reprise Records in 1986. The title cut and “Honky Tonk Man” were hit singles, and the latter song was the first country music video to get shown on MTV. His second album, Hillbilly Deluxe, was also successful, and his third, Buenas Noches From a Lonely Room, included his first No. 1 hit, “Streets of Bakersfield,” a duet with his musical idol, Owens.

There have been 10 more Yoakam studio CDs, the most recent of which, 3 Pears, came out in 2012. Between 2005 and 2012, he did not release any albums of new material, concentrating on his movie career and appearing in Wedding Crashers; The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada; Bandidas; Crank; 2:13; Four Christmases; Crank: High Voltage; Dirty Girl; The Last Rites of Ransom Pride; and Bloodworth.

He has also released four albums of cover songs, six albums of compilations and one Christmas album. His worldwide sales total 25 million albums. He has 12 gold album certifications for sales of half a million copies each and nine platinum album certifications for sales of a million copies each. Five of his albums have been No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart; he has won two Grammy Awards; and he holds the record for the most musical appearances on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno before Leno retired.

In Yoakam’s official biography, he sums up his almost three decades as a performer, saying, “You search for a sandbox and just have fun in it.”

Dwight Yoakam

Opening act: The Railers 7:30 p.m. Friday (doors at 6:30 p.m.), El Dorado Municipal Auditorium, 100 W. Eighth St., El Dorado Tickets: $60 (orchestra), $50 (parquet), $40 (loge), $30 (balcony) (870) 862-4747

Weekend, Pages 37 on 03/13/2014

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