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Music DVD Review: Dwight Yoakam – Live From Austin Tx

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The Performance

Like Steve Earle, I first heard of Dwight Yoakam via a mid-eighties BBC documentary on what was then being called “New Country." I listened to a lot of the artists I discovered on that program — T. Graham Brown and The O’Kanes are two that spring to mind — but the only two I’m still listening to are Earle and Yoakam.

I’ve seen Steve Earle on a couple of occasions but Dwight has always eluded me, so this DVD was my first experience of seeing him performing live. I wasn’t disappointed. From the minute Dwight strides on stage in full country gear, from Stetson hat down to cowboy boots, this DVD was a delight, and it's made me even more eager to see him in the flesh.

Unlike the Earle gig in the same series, Yoakam takes time to chat with the audience, treating them to his (pretty awful) Johnny Cash impression as he reminisces about meeting the legend, before launching into a cover of "Home Of The Blues." He also regales them with his views on why woman are the stronger sex by way of introduction to "Little Ways."

The concert gets progressively better and by the time he introduces a couple of special guests, Flaco Jimenez on accordion and Buck Owens on vocals and guitar, for his number one hit "Streets of Bakersfield," the band and crowd are on a high. Owens was a big influence on Dwight and he's obviously enjoying the chance to play with his idol.

Things get even better with "Buenas Noches from a Lonely Room (She Wore Red Dresses)," a classic song that combines a couple of perennial country music favorites – a cheating woman and a six-gun. Jimenez stays on for this song and there’s a wonderful accordion/guitar “duel” with Pete Anderson.

Anderson is Dwight’s secret weapon, a brilliant guitarist who also acted as producer on many of his albums. The live setting really allows Anderson to shine, throwing in a few guitar solos that improve on the studio versions of the songs. He’s so good he really should be center stage.

"Little Sister" is a crowd favorite and Dwight milks it for all it’s worth, gyrating around the stage much to the audiences delight. It's at this point he bids them goodnight but he’s soon back for an encore.

"I Sang Dixie," performed solo with just an acoustic guitar is the highlight of the show. It paints a less than flattering portrait of Los Angeles, with an alcoholic Southerner dying on the street, ignored by all save one, who “sang Dixie while he died.” It could easily stray too far into sentimentality but Dwight keeps it real and the sparseness of the arrangement helps.

He brings the band back out for a rousing version of "This Drinkin' Will Kill Me" that allows the audience to leave on a high. But it's "Dixie" that's the concerts standout.

The DVD 

Video

Limited by the source material (it was recorded for TV broadcast) the transfer is surprisingly sharp and clear. Given the age of the show (October 1988) this is as good as it's going to get.

Audio

A big improvement over the Steve Earle disc. We get a stereo PCM track and a DTS surround mix. The PCM track is nice and clear and the DTS adds plenty of bass (something that was lacking on the Steve Earle release).

Extras 

Sadly nothing other than an option to select a song and that doesn't count as an extra in my book. 

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About Ian Woolstencroft

  • JC Mosquito

    IS this DVD only or is there an audio CD also?

    I saw Dwight a couple of years ago on tour without Anderson – sorry – can’t remember the replacemnt fella’s name – a big Hispanic fella from Tejas who rocked pretty hard.

  • http://www.minewastaller.com Ian Woolstencroft

    Thanks for the comment.

    I think all the Live From Austin Tx series are available on both DVD and CD, this one definitely is.