|Michael P. Nordberg|
The Daily Courier
The twist that California musicians put on country music will resonate across the stage when "Last Stop, Bakersfield" rolls into town for a concert Sunday at the Elks Opera House.
This brand of melodies has "staying power," said Danny Krieger, guitarist and singer, who sings the praises of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens, the legendaries who sparked the Bakersfield sounds in the late 1950s.
What makes this era of music stand out yet today is largely because of Haggard's soulful renditions and Owens' "great storytelling, sense of humor and tight harmony."
"The Bakersfield sound has influenced so many bands that it's hard to pin down," Krieger said. And its force on the music scene even reached such greats as the Beatles whose famed Ringo Starr sang Owens' tune "Act Naturally" on the Ed Sullivan show. Grateful Dead sang Haggard's "Mama Tried" and "Sing Me Back Home," which became staples of the group's live shows.
Haggard's and Owens' influence "goes all over the map, a pretty wide spectrum," Krieger said.
He and Michael P. Nordberg are headliners for the Sunday Lonely Street Productions show, which starts at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $30 to $36. Call the box office at 777-1370 or visit www.elksoperahouse.com to get tickets in advance or buy them at the door an hour before the performance.
Krieger's life as a musician goes back to when he was about 12 years old. "Like so many people my age, I started strumming the guitar in the 1960s. When the Beatles came out, that's when I got serious and was really into the blues players of the time. That was my first love.
"I was influenced by the white skinny British guys," he said, as well as American blues musicians Muddy Waters and Albert King.
This enthusiasm for the Brits, though, prompted Krieger's move to England where he joined a pop band, Christie, that had "one huge hit," 'Yellow River.'" After two years of touring Europe and South America, Krieger came home, played with a number of different bands, was in and out of Tucson and in the late to mid-1980s, he finally "threw everything in the back of my Pinto and drove to Tucson" for good.
"Last Stop, Bakersfield" promises the best of Haggard and Owens, Krieger said, and this suits him just fine.
"I'm a rock and roller," he said, "but some of this country stuff I just adore."