Dwight Yoakam Comes Roaring Back in Big Sky Country

Bonafide living country music legend Dwight Yoakam brought a little bit of Bakersfield to Big Sky Country in Montana Friday evening (7-16) as he took the stage as one of the headliners of this weekend’s Under The Big Sky Fest. With ample pent up energy for the prolonged quarantine, and playing one of his first massive shows back compared to limited capacity theaters and casinos, Yoakam and his band were in rare form, and left faces melted, and hearts full.

Even at 64-years-old now, Dwight is still squeezing into tight jeans, and moving around on stage like he’s 17, swinging hips, thrusting his haunches behind his guitar, and spinning around on his boot heels. Dwight Yoakam doesn’t play music, he makes sweet love to it, and his voice is still caramel, with all of the whoops and yodels still at his beck and call like it’s 1986.

As much Dwight Yoakam comes across as ageless aside from the grey flowing out from beneath his signature cowboy hat pulled down so low you just get occasional peaks at his eyes, as time has gone on Dwight has also embraced his role as a country elder and a conduit for country music from previous eras even more than he did in his early career with Buck Owens and others.

The beginning of his set started off with numerous classics and covers, including “Keep on the Sunny Side,” and an extended run through the catalog of Merle Haggard including “Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down” and “Swinging Doors.” Dwight also told a story of hanging out on Willie Nelson’s bus (yes, one of those stories), and peering through the smoke and haze to find out that Willie’s favorite song from Merle Haggard was actually “Okie From Muskogee,” which Dwight played along with Ray Wylie Hubbard’s semi answer song, “Up Against The Wall Redneck Mother,” giving the Wylie Llama a nice shout out along with it.

And of course Buck Owens got his due with Dwight performing “Streets of Bakersfield,” and launching into the Buck Owens theme song “Buckaroo” in between the passages of Dwight’s own “Turn It On, Turn It Up, Turn It Loose.”

It’s easy to get swept up in the moments when watching a country music legend do their thing on stage. But Dwight wasn’t just going through the motions, he was grinning from ear to ear, and it felt like a performance for the record. “Fourteen days turned into fourteen months…” he said, happy as everyone else was to finally be among like-minded souls enjoying the gift of music together.

“Everybody stay safe,” Dwight said as he walked off the stage. “But let’s get back to living.”

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Stay tuned for a complete recap of Under The Big Sky Fest, and you can follow Saving Country Music on Instagram for regular live updates.

A (mostly) complete setlist:

1. Keep on the Sunny Side
2. Little Sister
3. Streets of Bakersfield
4. Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down
5. Swinging Doors
6. Up Against The Wall Redneck Mother
7. Okie From Muskogee
8. I Got You (dedicated to his new wife)
9. I’ll Be Gone
10. Blame The Vain
11. You’re The One
12. Turn It On, Turn It Up, Turn It Loose
13. Buckaroo
14. Honky Tonk Man
15. Thousand Miles from Nowhere
16. Little Ways
17. Guitars, Cadillacs
18. Fast As You
19. Suspicious Minds (Encore)

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