Live: Ray Wylie Hubbard, Houston
Texas has a boxcar full of “legendary” singer/songwriters, and folks in other parts of the country may have heard of some of them. Ray Wylie Hubbard has been around for a while, he’s kind of an elder statesman of the Lone Star singer/songwriter contingent. Saturday he offered a great little in-store performance at Houston’s Cactus Music and Video to showcase his latest album, A. Enlightenment B. Endarkenment (Hint: There Is No C).
“The world’s worst album title,” he cracked, as he launched into “Drunken Poet’s Dream” from the new album. The song, co-written with Houston singer/songwriter Hayes Carll, talks about a woman who likes “being naked and gazed upon,” before it flips down the list of writer’s “inspirations” that make for great literature (and shot livers).
Ray explained that he originally started making the album with Gurf Morlix, but Morlix had another commitment and told Hubbard to produce it himself. Hubbard enlisted the help of Texas musician/producer George Reiff, and finished the album. Just when Hubbard thought it was done, Reiff said “You know what this album needs?” “Don’t tell me, it’s done, I don’t want to hear it,” Hubbard said. “It needs a rock anthem.”
So Hubbard went home and wrote “Loose,” which is a jangly rock anthem on the album but had a lazy lope in its acoustic in-store setting. He also did “Down Home Country Blues,” which celebrates the country bluesmen of yore and proclaims “Muddy Waters is as deep as William Blake.” And he completed his four-song contractual obligation with “Whoop and Holler,” which pretty much sounds like the title.
Ray tossed in a fifth song, the ringer “Snake Farm,” which he admitted has become a bit of a crowd pleaser. I’m sorry I didn’t take any photos at the in-store, I had my hands full with a glass of that nice, cold (and free) St. Arnold beer.
Ray mentioned his big upcoming event (in addition to his current tour), which is the second annual Grit and Groove festival in legendary Luckenbach, Texas, on Saturday, April 3. He pointed out that’s Easter weekend but between “the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, you got the festival.” In addition to Ray, performers will include Hayes Carll and James McMurtry.
If you need a dose of good Texas music to warm your winter, you can’t go wrong with Ray Wylie Hubbard’s new album. He has a bunch of hot guitarists trading off nasty electric licks, and the songs are bluesy-rootsy as you can get. And yeah, the title’s terrible but the album rocks.
YouTube: “Snake Farm” from 2006