Yoakam plants California bluegrass with Swimmin’ Pools

Country icon comes to Victoria with a fresh bluegrass take on his country legacy in his hip pocket

Dwight Yoakam plays the Save On Foods Centre in Victoria on Saturday

Dwight Yoakam was never one to run with the country crowd.

With his latest album, Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars, Yoakam finally produced a bluegrass record, taking inspiration from the state of Kentucky in which he was born as well as influential musicians in his life, such as Earl Scruggs and Ralph Stanley.

Yoakam spent four days in Nashville laying down tracks for the album, and completed vocal work in California at Hollywood’s Capitol Studios. Pulling those two cities into the album allowed Yoakam to capture California’s influence on country music.

“This album really is that hybrid expression of a journey – and it’s the American journey,” Yoakam said, on his website. “It’s the Dust Bowl ’30s era blowing colloquial music out to California with all the Okie/Arkie/Texan migrants. Folks from Kansas and Nebraska and the plains all ended up out here and brought with ’em their cultural elements. Without that, you don’t have Buck Owens out here, and you don’t have Merle Haggard, perhaps, in the way that we knew him.”

Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars contains 11 tracks from Yoakam’s previous albums, but only two were chart hits.

He puts a new twist on his old material, capturing an authentic bluegrass sound, which he’s played with since his first album more than 30 years ago. Guitars, Cadillacs, from that debut record, is one of the two hits – the other being Please Please Baby – on the new album that get treated to a reinvention from Yoakam.

The latest album also includes a cover of Prince’s Purple Rain, which, according to his website, Yoakam says was never intended to be part of the album – at the news of Prince’s death, Yoakam entered the studio and told the musicians he felt that they needed to play the song.

“We cut it, and I didn’t think about it again, because I thought the emotion of it just got everybody wanting to express something,” Yoakam said. “I didn’t think it was going to be on the record. But months later, I put it on and realized how those guys really played with their hearts that day.”

Yoakam has released more than 20 albums and seen more than 30 songs on the country music charts, selling more than 25 million albums worldwide.

Yoakam performs at Victoria’s Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre Saturday (Oct. 29). Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; show at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets range in price from $49.50 to $79.50. For tickets, please call 250-220-7777.

For more information on Yoakam, please visit www.dwightyoakam.com.

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