Friday, October 27, 2006

Yoakam finishes strong in Laredo show


Some opening acts are quickly forgotten, some eventually become stars and some make a difference.
Austin's Keith Gattis added balance to the show and drew admiration for his largely one-man effort to please the restless crowd.
Gattis' opening for Dwight Yoakam in the Laredo Entertainment Center's first Country Music concert on Oct. 16 doubled the usual 30 minutes allowed most openers with the star's delay in transit from Houston.
Gattis filled in singing and playing by himself -- with the exception of one number with singer-songwriter Ashley Monroe – switching up and low tempo songs in a Country, Rock and Blues mix.
Gattis and Monroe sang a duet in one of his final songs, upping the performance level another notch, harmonizing and alternating at the mic with blonde Tennessee native Monroe whose voice sounds somewhat like Reba McEntire and the late Tammy Wynette.
Gattis wears long blond hair and brought his sense of humor, which he threw in pinches of between songs and enjoyed some cool ones, thanking one fan for donating a large one after foaming one onto the stage.
"I've done this before: waiting on Dwight," Gattis said, who noted that he played in Yoakam's band a few years ago, demonstrating some electric guitar lines from his songs. "I'm just winging it here. I don't know what I'm going to do.
"Normally, I got a band up here with me – but, I don't tonight."
Gattis added a Bob Dylan-style harmonica while assuring the audience that Yoakam was on his way.
"He's coming," Gattis said.
"I've got to get my son to school in the morning," groaned a woman in the front row.
KRRG Disc Jockey Gino stepped on stage an hour into Gattis' performance, saying that Yoakam was on his way in a bus. Gattis played a few more songs before Gino was back at 9:50 to quickly introduce Yoakam and the main event was on before some 3,200 in the seating arrangement set up for 4,500, apologizing for running late while kicking right into some up tempo numbers from his various albums and fans wasted no time getting into his music, too.
Yoakam and his four-piece band's highly electric sound proved worth the wait.
Some couples danced and many kept beat and rhythm standing at their seats, moving hips, feet, arms and necks to familiar songs like the late Buck Owens' "Act Naturally," "Crying Time," "Together Again" and the Tejano-sounding "The Streets of Bakersfield," which he and Owens recorded together.
Yoakam’s band kept the crowd looking and listening closely with a unique blend of instruments.
The four behind Yoakam strayed from standard guitar and drum music using an electric piccolo, “stand up” base – usually found in Jazz bands -- and the accordion. The Yoakam group’s diversity ranged in appearances from his Cowpunk outfit to tuxedo and silk Rock-style jackets to a casual men’s suit and extended to some 1950s doowah-style in “Pocket of a Clown.”
Yoakam threw in Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire,” but moved toward the end with his original works. The crowd also responded well to Yoakam’s “Honky Tonk Man,” “A Thousand Miles From Nowhere,” “She Wore Red Dresses,” “It Only Hurts When I Cry,” “Little Ways,” “Guitars, Cadillacs” and “Fast As You” to close out the regular session, but the crowd stood firm for two minutes, getting him to return with two encore numbers.
The show ended a few minutes before midnight with Yoakam and accompanists Eddie Perez, Kevin Smith, Josh Green and Nick Morin disappeared.
Tour Manager Tim Aller noticed that the LEC’s ice hockey floor arrangement was much what the “Watch Out” Tour saw in several Canadian cities, but said Yoakam thought he was entering a theater because of the configuration of the seats and stage. Aller noticed the crowd responding to Yoakam’s performance, too.
“The people seemed to really love it,” he said. “I don’t know if it was just Dwight, but they seemed to know the words to the songs.”

Note: A print version, similar to this story, is available wherever distributed in Laredo in the October 2006 edition of LareDOS. A pdf version can be found online at


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