Will HullabaLOU give Dwight Yoakam his biggest home-state audience ever? The Pikeville, Ky.-born country icon (appearing Sunday, July 25, at 7:25 p.m. at the Fleur de Lis Stage) has traveled a lot musically as well as geographically in more than 25 years performing and recording, but he’s never forgotten his roots. It’s a sucker’s bet that he won’t break out either his fine cover of the old country hit “Louisville” or his beautiful ode to growing up in Eastern Kentucky, “Bury Me.” But there’ll also be the hits, and Yoakam’s had plenty of those — twangy or rocking, mournfully intimate or sweepingly cinematic.
LEO: Last fall, you were heard to say that you were contemplating the possibilities of making statements with EPs or singles instead of full albums.
Dwight Yoakam: It remains to be seen — but recently, the Nashville labels have started looking at that. They’ve released Blake Shelton’s six-song EP. My original Guitars, Cadillacs, etc, etc. was a big ol’ 12-inch vinyl released in ’84 on Oak Records, and it was actually a six-song EP. Sony purchased those masters; we cut four more sides … and re-released it worldwide in spring of ’86 as a 10-song LP. So it would be kind of a weird “full circle” — but nobody really has a hard answer for that. I do think people are back to (emphasizing) individual tracks.
LEO: You were singing about heartbreak and life on the road right from the start — but now with three decades of the road behind you, do some of the songs come more naturally? Do they feel different inside of you?
DY: Yes. A quick yes! (laughs) Or as my granddaddy, Luther Tibbs, might’ve said — he’d probably spit up ahead of it ’n’ all, then gone “Yup.”
LEO: Some recent YouTube videos show you covering Gordon Lightfoot and Bee Gees. You once experimented with a big-band version of “Tired of Waiting for You.” But are there more recent songs, any recent songwriters, you’d like to try?
DY: For me, it’s a sonic thing as much as it is songwriting. Jack White’s material has captured me from the beginning, because it adheres to an age-old tradition of pop music: a two-and-a-half or three-minute riff song. He’s really astute and extremely capable. It’s a tough thing to do, to write something that has layered meanings in two or three minutes. The school where everybody could go to on that is the guys in the Brill Building, with Gerry Goffin and Carole King. But there are people out there (still) doing things: Kings of Leon have also made some great music recently. But I’m going to leave out somebody I like — that’s off the top of my head.
LEO: Thank you for your time. Hope you enjoy playing HullabaLOU.
DY: My dad’s in Louisville — he’s lived there for 27, 28 years. I’ll get to see family that comes up from southern Tennessee and some from Ohio.
Other bright spots on the HullabaLOU stage
Voted one of the greatest artists of all time by Rolling Stone, Al Green has used his impressive range and expressive voice to make stirring, soulful music over the years. His latest studio album was nothing short of what was to be expected from the soul legend. A collaboration with a handful of younger artists and produced by Questlove from The Roots, 2008’s Lay It Down was nominated for four Grammy Awards — winning two.
Following a dispute with a girlfriend that led to his serious injury and her suicide — the woman seriously burned him with a pot of scalding grits before shooting herself — Green took the incident as a sign from God. Focusing on his faith, Green became an ordained Baptist minister and purchased a church in Memphis, where he often leads worship on Sundays to this day. After a hiatus from secular music, he’s returning to a renewed fanbase with a sense of what real music is. Green graces the stage with his soulful mechanics on the second night of HullabaLOU, Saturday, July 24, at 7 p.m. Hear more at www.algreenmusic.com. —Whitney Spencer
Born in Butcher Holler, Ky., Loretta Lynn has taken the journey from poverty-stricken to American icon with class and success. The daughter of Ted Web, a coal miner and farmer, Lynn was discovered in 1961 during a talent contest is Tacoma, Wash., by Norm Burley. She achieved success with her very first single, “Honky Tonk Girl.” For more than four decades since, Lynn has churned out hits that often touch on major issues in her life, including marriage and childrearing. Her most recent album in 2004, Van Lear Rose, won her a Grammy for Best Country Album, as well as Best Country Collaboration on “Portland, Oregon” with Jack White. Rose proved Lynn’s lasting effect on a country music industry she helped create. Beginning with the honky-tonk genre and transitioning into a more daring sound for country music, Lynn was a strong voice behind women’s empowerment in the years when it was taboo, especially with her 1975 single “The Pill.” Her famous “Coal Miner’s Daughter” spawned a best-selling autobiography and an Oscar-winning film starring Sissy Spacek (1980). Lynn performs at HullabaLOU on Sunday, July 25, at 5:45 p.m. at the Fleur de Lis stage. Hear more at www.lorettalynn.com. —WS
SEE MORE: www.hullabaloufest.com