Written by James Killen
While the White Oak Music Hall is not a brand new venue, the 2018 “LSD” tour was the first event that got me out to check it out. You don’t often find an outdoor venue that you could describe as intimate, but WOMH is just the right size to draw a high dollar show like this one and not throw fans into a maelstrom of drunken fans and oblivious gyrating tweakers. The administration of the facility was professional without being overbearing. I will look forward to seeing more shows there.
Certainly a great venue is a plus, but the show was an amazing amalgamation of American music. King Leg, from Las Angeles by way of Nashville, thanks to Dwight Yoakum’s tutelage opened the show with a thirty minute set. They started off with the 1950’s country standard, “There Stands the Glass”, before rolling into four originals, “Wanted”, “Great Outdoors”, “Your Picture” and “Walking Again”. The music set the tone for this blend of rock and country that was to be the fare this evening. Bryan Joyce’s voice had a hint of Roy Orbison’s influence, while the drummer did some Keith Moon beat downs and the lead guitar even tossed in a Pete Townsend windmill or two. Leg ended their set with Little Richard’s oft covered “Lucille”.
Steve Earle opened up his set with the title track to his latest disc, “So You Wanna Be an Outlaw”, followed by “Lookin’ For a Woman” and “Firebreak Line” from the same CD. He dedicated “Devil’s Right Hand” to the kids protesting school shootings as he began playing some of his older songs. He continued with “Someday” which he segued into “Guitartown”. Steve next did a duet with Eleanor Whitmore of the Mastersons on “Cause I’m Still in Love with You”. Lucinda Williams came up briefly to sing back up on “You’re Still Standing There”.
Earle grabbed his mandolin next to play the Celtic toned “Gallway Girl”, moving to the electric mandolin for the obligatory “Copperhead Road”, and then on to “Something About a Monday”. The Dukes momentum began to peak as they rolled into the psychedelic country-rock, “Fixin’ to Die” which soon morphed into “Hey Joe”. Ever the rebel, Steve took the opportunity to work in a statement against Trump’s border wall and call for his indictment.
Lucinda Williams led off with Randy Weeks’ “I Can’t Let Go” before introducing “I Lost It” as a reply to a 1980’s bumper sticker that said “I Found It”. She was joined by Steve Earle on harmonica for her song about Blaze Foley, “Drunken Angel”. Then came “Lake Charles” and “Changed the Locks”. Ms. Williams went into “Essence” which is one of those emotionally charged songs in which she puts herself and her voice out on full display.
Not to be left behind on the political front, Lucinda followed up with “Foolishness” not calling out anyone by name, but dissing hate, racism and walls. She wrapped up her set with “Joy” and “Honey Bee” as the sun went down.
The evening’s headliner, Dwight Yoakum, took the stage by storm, wasting no time in getting to the music. He started off with “Little Queenie”, “Come Back Home”, “Little Sister” and “Streets of Bakersfield”, pausing scarcely a beat between those rock-a-billy country songs. He stopped long enough to dedicate “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down” to Merle and a new song “Pretty Horses” to the Southern California country rock bands of the 60’s like Poco and the Flying Burrito Brothers. He also introduced one that he wrote with Chris Stapleton, “Then Came Monday”.
Yoakum’s mastery of the stage and showmanship was in full force as he taunted and teased the crowd while he turned up the honkytonk heat. He fired off “I’ll be Gone”, “I’m Back Again”, “Lonely, Crazy and Blue” and “1000 Miles from Nowhere” in rapid succession. He wrapped up the set with “Little Ways”, “Guitars, Cadillacs and Hillbilly Music” and “Fast as You” with the audience singing along. The evening ended with all of the artists making the stage for a grand encore.
Houston’s show from the “LSD’ tour was an evening charged with amazing talent, great songs and a high energy vibe. Each of the artists brought his own style and kept the show moving. It might have gone on all night, I would guess, but for the 10 PM deadline for the outdoor music in the residential area of North Main. I would easily rank this show as the best one that I’ve seen this summer. (Thanks to Jason Killen for the photos from the show).