Valley hosts country concerts
Two shows featuring two generations of country artists come to two area venues in the next two days.
Dwight Yoakam performs tonight at Packard Music Hall while Luke Combs headlines the Covelli Centre on Friday.
The Packard concert will be Yoakam’s first concert in Trumbull County but not for lack of trying. The Kentucky-born, Ohio-raised musician was booked for a show at Eastwood Field (then Cafaro Field) 10 days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It wasn’t the travel restrictions following 9/11 that postponed the show; a torrential rainstorm washed out the performance.
Since the release of his debut album, “Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc.” in 1986, Yoakam has won two Grammy Awards and the Academy of Country Music’s Cliffe Stone Pioneer Award as well as being named Artist of the Year by the American Music Awards.
His country hits include “Honky Tonk Man,” “Streets of Bakersfield,” “I Sang Dixie,” “You’re the One,” “Ain’t That Lonely Yet,” “A Thousand Miles from Nowhere” and “Fast as You.”
Yoakam told Dan Rather that Merle Haggard was a major influence on him as a songwriter, and recent setlists have included a few Haggard cover songs. Songs by Buck Owens, and another major influence and his “Streets of Bakersfield” collaborator, also have been featured in recent shows.
For much of his career, he’s taken breaks for touring for acting gigs, appearing in such films as “Sling Blade,” “Panic Room” and “Wedding Crashers.” He also directed, cowrote and starred in the 2000 western “South of Heaven, West of Hell.”
He also has his own signature model Martin acoustic guitar, which retails for about $6,000.
Combs wasn’t born when Yoakam performed alongside Steve Earle and Randy Travis on the 1987 Grammy Awards to represent what was then “new” country, but the 27-year-old performer hit country radio like a “Hurricane” with his first single, which topped the country airplay chart in 2016.
Combs told Nashville Scene last month, “We don’t really know what it is about that song. I don’t think we ever thought when we wrote it that it would not only be something that almost everybody has heard, but be something that would kind of kick my career off and be our first No. 1. But songs have a way of having a life of their own, I guess. If they get out to the right people at the right time, they can really have an amazing journey. It’s taken me on an amazing journey. But I never would have thought that it would be what it is now.”
He followed it up with another No. 1 single, “When It Rains It Pours.”
The Youngstown show is part of Combs’ Don’t Tempt Me with a Good Time tour, which started with two sold-out shows at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, home of the Grand Ole Opry. Combs made his Opry debut last year.
“I don’t get nervous — ever — but I was nervous,” he told People magazine. “I sang at halftime at a Vikings game for 70,000 people and I wasn’t nervous, but the first time on that stage, I was nervous.”
Opening the show will be Ashley McBryde, whose new album, “Girl Going Nowhere,” will be released March 30. The single, “American Scandal,” is out now.