DWIGHT YOAKAM The Utopia Rescue Ranch Benefit Helotes Texas March 25, 2000

  I arrived with my small entourage (consisting of my husband Dylan and our friend Copper) at Floore’s Country Store at 6:00 pm. The line to get into Floore’s was a confirmed 2 miles long. The 7 pm show was General Admission so I think people arrived early to get a good spot near the stage. At 7:00 they promptly opened the gates and the people flowed in. My friend Copper and I worked the gate stamping hands and we were both very impressed with how nice the folks were. These people had been waiting in line for who knows how long and yet as they walked through the gate they took the time to say thank you for stamping their hands. Dwight’s fans were in fine form that night.
The two main opening acts were Two Tons of Steel and the Derailers. Dwight had specifically asked for these bands to open for him. They were good and got the crowd pretty well fired up. After those bands got off stage, the Geezinslaws came on for a couple of songs, then Kinky Friedman came on for a couple of songs; next Joe Ely came out and did “Hound Dog”. The Derailers set up an impromptu meet ‘n greet by the stage and lots of people took advantage of that to get autographs and shake their hands. From what I understand, this band is getting some good play on CMT and are considered up and comers.
After all the above mentioned artists had finished their parts, we all went up and helped to clear off the stage for the headliner. The crowd, ever polite, waited patiently for their hero to appear but 5 minutes stretched into 10 and 10 into 15 and finally someone started chanting “Dwight Dwight Dwight!” Cleve, the Bonefit’s reluctant emcee, got onstage and said that Dwight had arrived but he was backstage meeting with the sponsors of the event (a courtesy the sponsors had asked for, Hi Chris from Lone Star!). Of course I had to run backstage to see and there was Dwight chatting with Lone Star Chris and Nancy from the rescue ranch, as well as other people I didn’t recognize. I even brushed past Joe Ely but he was on his way out so he didn’t mind.
Anyway, FINALLY the lights dimmed and in walked Dwight’s band. Since Dwight won’t start touring til June, he had to scramble to find all his boys because when they’re not touring they all have other jobs and are scattered all over creation. I got to speak for a long time with the bass player Taras after the show and he said that he was working at a dude ranch in Arizona when he got the call to come to Helotes for the Bonefit. Even though Dwight was doing the Bonefit for free, he made sure all his boys got paid and I thought that was a very nice gesture on his part.The crowd of Dwight fans were now in a frenzy but there was no Dwight in sight yet. The Babylonian Cowboys strapped on their instruments, grinned at the fans, than started hitting the licks to “Little Sister”…now before I go on, let me say that Pete Anderson is a KICK ASS guitar player! He can flat hit those licks like nobody’s business. Dwight scored a diamond when he got Pete Anderson to front his band, lemme tell ya. The guitar player in Dylan’s band was mesmerized with Pete so that says a chingaload about the guy’s talent. He is good.
At last Dwight took the stage, and took the stage he did! He came out with his acoustic guitar and launched right into the song–he played non stop, without even a breath, for about 30 minutes straight. He had on his trademark tighttighttight faded blue jeans, pointy toed boots, a white shirt underneath a blue jean jacket, and his perfectly shaped cowboy hat.
Now I have never been a big Dwight fan–I don’t know why. I mean, I recognize that he is incredibly talented but I’ve never been into him; the show he gave in Helotes (for FREE I might add) was one of the best live shows I have ever seen. Dylan, who has seen Bob Dylan play in Berkeley in the 60’s, Johnny Cash live on a street corner in the 50’s, and Mickey Mantle hit a homerun in Yankee stadium, was blown away by Dwight’s show. He has never been a Dwight fan either but he said that this was the best live show he had ever seen since Johnny Cash, and maybe even better than Johnny Cash (BLASPHEMY!). Coming from Dylan that’s high praise. Dwight absolutely KICKED! His energy and joy were radiant. He LOVES performing and he obviously loves his fans. He commanded the stage with a power that was intoxicating.
After about 30 straight minutes going from one song right into the next, he paused to talk a little about the Utopia Rescue Ranch, the benefactors for the night’s gig. The only thing “wrong” with Dwight’s show was the dang soundman. He had the sound turned up so loud that I finally had to put in ear plugs just so I could watch the show. At one point I saw Dwight turn around and tell his roadie “the sound’s fucked”. I mean it was BLASTING. It was so loud that at times it distorted Dwight’s beautifully unique vocals. Dwight can sing like nobody’s bidness but he really needed to come off the stage and whup that sound dude. In all Dwight performed for TWO solid hours. He danced (mostly that cool spinning around he does with the guitar), he did that Dwight moonwalk thang and he paused a couple times to let the crowd finish a line or two of certain songs. Dwight knew how to work that crowd, boy. He knew exactly when to pause to let the crowd sing and he knew exactly when to jump back in and finish up. He is a man who obviously is in touch with his fans because he knew exactly what to do to please them. I can’t say enough good about the old boy and remember, I wasn’t a fan before I saw this show so this observation isn’t biased. If you have a chance to see Dwight live, don’t hesitate to jump on it because you won’t be disappointed. If he performs like this for free, he must be absolutely amazing when he’s paid and it’s all done up fancy.
He did 3 encore songs without his band; it was just him and his acoustic guitar and it was incredible. I was standing backstage when he did the encore songs–after the last song, he faded out as he was backing up–he went underneath a banner and then disappeared from the crowd’s view. As soon as he wasn’t visible to the crowd anymore, he unstrapped his guitar and handed it off to the roadie. Someone gave him a towel and he held it to his head/ear as though he were in pain (no wonder, with that blasting sound). He climbed off stage and he looked weary, kind of staggering as he walked. He was spent, it was obvious. Because Dwight doesn’t like to talk or interact after a show, he was whisked away in his limo, probably to the airport since he went to some Oscar party the next evening in LA.
For Dwight fans, he is tall and thin, but not in a sickly way. He has a very articulate voice and seems a little shy or quiet when he’s talking to people he doesn’t know. He becomes more animated when he talks to friends (he and Kinky have turned out to be very good friends and when they talked, Dwight seemed to relax a bit). Like I said earlier, I got to talk at length to the bass player Taras. He and his wife have a vintage clothing store in LA. He was talking about how he and his wife had to put their beloved 12 year-old dog to sleep and I told him about my old dog and how well he’s doing. He was a very nice man and I scored him and the band 5 Kinky t-shirts plus some bumper stickers that said “Kinky Friedman for President”.
In all, I was extremely impressed with Dwight Yoakam. I was especially impressed with how in touch he is with his fans and how hard he tries to please them. Any Dwight Yoakam fan can be proud to be his fan because he is a rare bird in this age when it’s considered hip to hate and disparage your fans. He deserves all the accolades he gets. What a great performer he is!