Doyle Dykes is a monument to the country guitar and fingerpicking, in the lineage of his mentor Chet Atkins. Known as the "white wolf" in Nashville, he has played with everyone, and his virtuosity is matched only by his sense of well-articulated melody and unstoppable chord voicing. You could put a cigar box guitar in his hand and he’d make it sound like an orchestra. He is simply one of those players that you need to know about if you’re an acoustic guitar player.
Born into a musical family in Jacksonville, Fla., Dykes is widely lauded for his distinct “piano-esque” approach to finger style technique. His first musical influences came out of the church, where he spent his formative years. Throughout the course of his brilliant career, Dykes has performed in theaters and churches, as well as at bluegrass festivals and major conventions across the globe, in addition to several appearances at the Grand Ole Opry. The list of artists with whom Doyle has shared the stage includes Les Paul, Peter Frampton, Chet Atkins, Vince Gill, John Fogerty, Tommy Emmanuel and many others.
On one of Dykes’ albums, aptly named “Chameleon,” he takes off into so many areas it’s hard to believe the same musician is playing a dense, almost symphonic, number, inspired arrangements of music by U2 and Coldplay, “Music of the Night” and “Over the Rainbow.”
And all of it has such feeling and musicality, minus any cheap showiness. Most solo guitarists talk between their numbers. At a Leo Kottke concert, for example, you’re bound to hear bizarre episodes from his life that may or may not have a connection with the previous or next piece.
At a Doyle Dykes concert — like the one Nov. 7 at Buck Owens' Crystal Palace — you’ll also hear stories, some of them as strange as those of Kottke, but in a different way.
“There are certain things in life that you just can’t calculate or explain,” Dykes said. “A lot of my stories are almost hard to believe, but they happened.”
Dykes has been the recipient of many awards and distinctions over the years, including having been honored with a brick in the Wall of Fame at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, England, and twice being named instrumentalist of the year by the International Country Gospel Music Association (which subsequently inducted Dykes into its Hall of Fame). This year, his peers voted him thumbpicker of the year for the second time from the National Thumbpickers Hall of Fame. For guitar players, this is just about as good as it gets.
Joining Dykes for his Bakersfield show is four-time Grammy Award-winning multi-instrumentalist Andy Leftwich. Also hailing from Nashville, he began playing the fiddle at the age of 6, entering his first contest at 7, and winning the National Championship for Beginners at the age of 12. Adding mandolin and guitar to his arsenal, Leftwich began playing professionally at the age of 15, joining Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder in 2001.
Dykes' Nov. 7 show marks the third Guitar Masters appearance for the artist, and he’s thrilled to be playing the Palace. “I was invited to play there shortly after they opened,” recalled Dykes in a recent conversation from his Nashville home. “I got to meet Buck, and that was pretty special for me!”
Whether to a guitar player or music enthusiast, Doyle Dykes’ music will make a lasting impression on anyone given the opportunity to listen.