Dwight Yoakam - acoustic guitar; Pete Anderson - lead guitar; Ed Black - pedal steel, guitar; Jeff Donavan - drums; J.D. Foster - bass, background vocals; Brantley Kearns - fiddle, background vocals;; Another incredible New Year's Eve show, this classic Dwight Yoakam performance, captured early in his career, is one of the best shows recorded for the Silver Eagle Cross Country radio concert series. Recorded before Yoakam released his debut Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. album, the performance captures the popular country star just as he began making his mark on the music scene.
After warming up with "Can't You Hear Me Calling" (unfortunately incomplete), Yoakam and his band launch into Johnny Horton's "Honky Tonk Man." From there he glides from one honky tonk gem to the next. His bright remake of the Flatt and Scruggs standard "Down The Road" is exceptional, as is his take on Harlan Howard's "Heartaches By The Number." Yoakam was never afraid to embrace his traditional country past, especially those artists who were part of the Bakersfield movement. Accordingly, he serves up two legendary classics, Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" and Hank Williams Sr.'s "Jambalaya."
He also runs through several of his own originals including "Readin', Rightin', Rt. 23," which he wrote about his family leaving their home state of Kentucky for Columbus, Ohio, where Dwight grew up. Still, this is mostly a show of cover material, and it is evident that he and the band were still finding their way towards presenting a well-rounded show.
Yoakam was clearly a newcomer when this recording was made, and he spends a considerable amount of time educating the audience as to who they are and what this music is all about; "This is just a bunch of old Honky Tonk songs," he says at one point. Little did the audience know, they were witnessing the dawn of a career destined to be one of the more celebrated in popular country music.