Vince Gill knows a thing or two about music from flat, dusty places.
The Oklahoma native who has sold more than 26 million albums, won 20 Grammy Awards and been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame celebrates California’s vast Central Valley with his new release, “Bakersfield.” The album, a duet with steel guitarist Paul Franklin, came out in July and features songs by Bakersfield Sound architects Buck Owens and Merle Haggard.
Gill spoke with The Bee by phone from his studio in Nashville, Tenn.. His “Bakersfield” tour brings him to the album’s eponymous hometown the night before it rolls into Turlock Community Theatre on Saturday.
At the time, I don’t think I could have thought about where (the music) came from and why it was different. I just think when you listen to those records and at the same time you listen to what else was going on in country music at that time it was drastically different. It was a hard-edged, honky-tonk sound. Nashville was lush and cosmopolitan in comparison. They had real crooners and real pretty stuff. But those (Bakersfield) guys were really down in the honky-tonks.
From a radio perspective, it’s the most popular music going, but the lines are really blurry these days. (“American Idol” judge) Keith Urban – I don’t think he’d mind me saying – he’s not a very country artist. He’s a great singer, songwriter and he makes great records. (“The Voice” judge) Blake Shelton comes from a more traditional place than Keith. They’re both great at what they do and a pretty great face for country music for people who might not ordinarily be interested in country music.