Some country singers look Western from their Stetson-clad heads to their cowboy-booted toes but are simply an empty facade. Keith Whitley cut his musical teeth on Lefty Frizzell and Hank Williams. When he sings country, you don't see it, you hear it.
After winning a bout with the bottle and surviving a broken marriage and the loss of his brother in a motorcycle accident, Whitley is on the rise with a hit album, "Don't Close Your Eyes."Appearing in concert Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. at the Westerner, Whitley will showcase his hot new album as well as five Top 20 and three Top 10 singles. Tickets are $12 in advance, available at the Westerner, Country Joe's Records and all Sound-Off locations; $14 at the door.
Whitley's "overnight" success really started when he was 14. After 10 years of country music, Whitley turned to bluegrass "as a way to get into a band" and became so adept he was invited, at age 15, to join Ralph Stanley's Clinch Mountain Boys along with Ricky Scaggs who lived nearby.
After receiving national recognition as a bluegrass artist, Whitley joined a new group, "Country Store." One year later a country/
bluegrass fusion band, "J.D. Crowe & the New South," was on his agenda.
While Scaggs went on to country stardom, Whitley found himself locked into a bluegrass image that was tough to shed.
With the release of "Don't Close Your Eyes," Whitley has found his voice and his audience. Newly married to Lorrie Morgan, he sings his mournful ballads from memory now.