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Rockin' Out South

Ray Wylie Hubbard is my aural crack.

No explanation required

Like has happened before, I plug into the ZUNE and in mid-post about oil fields or the merits of the latest RV gadgetry I give in to the siren’s song.  I fired up RWH’s latest,The Grifter’s Hymnal, this morning and didn’t even last one track.  My addiction is a horrible beast; there was no more chance of finishing that RV related post than a cat going to college.  So under the influence of my demons and some stiff stove top coffee I offer up the following  vignettes.

Sometime back when, I trekked over to Mineola with one of the kiddos and the then-GF in tow.  I had corralled them to go see RWH at an old hotel turned kitschy scruffy by a Dallas socialite. The bill was just the old man and his early teen son upstairs in the back.  It was what reviewers would call an ‘intimate setting’ -100 folks in a classroom-sized deal with straight back chairs and high plaster ceilings. Unplugged and up close.  It was a seminal evening for me. Maybe not so much for the others; Ray would never make the first cut on American Idol you see.  Fast forward to 2012 and young Lucas Hubbard is now 18 and manages to lay down a blistering guitar track on Coricidin Bottle from the new release. Wheels within wheels, circles in circles.

Like as not there will be no estate to disburse when I lay down for that dirt nap.  If I did manage to amass an amount of worldly goods, I would probably invest it all in a rapscallion’s gambit  or bet it all on the turn of a single card.  I saw Jerry Garcia’s twin the other day and he was wearing a t-shirt emblazoned across the chest proclaiming ‘I may be old but I got to see all the cool bands.’  Yeah, even though I quit wearing billboard t shirts in public a few years back, it is about like that. My Best Girl Cait is my musical mentee.  My legacy to her is the music and perhaps a goodly portion of common sense.  We started visiting the dearth of clubs around the Dallas scene as soon as she quit playing with dolls.  I remember one early on, I doubt she was 16 yet.  The players were RWH, Lloyd Maines, Stephen Bruton and an alcohol fueled crowd. Now, a mainstay of any RWH gathering are the stories and the same songs. You better bet if you go see him live he is going to tell the story of ‘Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother’ and how he oughta be ashamed to have ever written the song —- except when he goes to the maibox twice a year and gets that royalty check. So we were sorta up close to the stage -Cait and I- in a press of people and he started the story and I knew what was fixin’  to come down.  You see, when Ray plays ‘Up Against the Wall‘  EVERYBODY sings-spontaneously.  There is no rising wave as voice after voice is joined with another. Nope, when Ray opens his mouth with that first word-everybody sings right then and loudly.  Cait looked over at me like I had just let a bird go out of my hand. It was the Classic WTF?? of all and ever WTF’s worldwide. Let the Ray Wiley Hubbard enlightenment commence for the young jedi.                              ‘Mother who has raised her son so well’ so well! so well! so well!’

It is hard for me to believe Ray Wiley is 65 years old. I was listening to him do a studio interview 6 or 7 years ago on KHYI The Range in Dallas and they asked him what he was up to.  He said he was taking guitar lessons –finger picking lessons specifically.  Said he wanted to be a better player; that he was just not satisfied-and the guy had to be pusing 60 at the time.  For some reason, I thought of Apocalypse Now where  Captain Willard (Sheen) is looking at Kurtz’ (Brando’s) resume’ and comments on the fact that Kurtz went through Airborn training at age 39 – ‘Christ, I did it when I was 20 and it almost killed me’ says Sheen.   Listen to that old Resonator sing on some tracks on this release and you will agree the lessons took.

Fast forward a year or two and Cait and I find ourselves at Love and War in Plano on a hot Sunday afternoon to see Ray Wylie.  By now Cait has got all the sing alongs down pat.  Universally, teenagers feel they are omniscient and invincible and Cait was little different.  She had grown musically to the point she was wont to argue esoteric music trivia with her aging mentor. Both of us expected nothing new under the sun that afternoon but still yet; Why not enjoy some cold beers and live music comfortable as a pair of broke in Wranglers?  Love and War has a geographic anomaly that does not lend itself to live music. It is directly beside a train track –not a half block away or a street separating the track from Love and War, not hardly.  It lays right directly next to the train tracks.  One of Ray Wylie’s staple songs is Wanna Rock and Roll –15 minutes of chaotic energy that includes Louisiana chain gang chants,  knife fights and a side step into Folsom Prison Blues.  Ray and the boys were working up a good head of steam and the crowd was fully involved, it is a good song no matter how many times you have heard it.  About the time he sang ‘I hear a train a-coming. Acoming ’round the bend.’  an MKT fast freight blasted up from the south which was our backside and layed down on those train horns.   Freaked everybody out right down to their socks.  Ray never missed a beat onstage and said ‘never underestimate the power of Texas Country Music. ‘   It was one of those moments let me tell ya.

I texted Cait…….

Me: get the new Ray Wylie ASAP

Cait: Roger that Father!

30 minutes later……

Cait:  ‘they’ll cut your throat with bass,drums and a Les Paul strat’… best lyric I’ve heard this year. This sounds like Ray Wylie 10 years ago!

Me: Gonna knock you down!

Yeah, I am a fan of Ray Wiley Hubbard but over a thousand words on a busy Monday on the gate is enough.  I won’t even go in to the Halloween in Poetry,TX story that includes lightning, thunder, goats walking upright and guys with chain saws coming down the driveway.  Go hear Ray live yourself for that one.

End Note: The Grifter’s Hymnal

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5 comments to Rockin’ Out South

  • Man, blisterin’ guitar takes all forms…might not sing along to “up against the wall,” but each to his own…

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  • Love your pics — your camera does a great job, too!

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  • Right on. We LOVE RWH and have only recently discovered him thanks to Outlaw Radio on XM. Every time he plays around TX we miss him. You’re so lucky!e

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  • i didn’t wanna peak too soon. rwh

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    • Andrew

      Hmmmmmm…. Not that I am a cynical bastard but this one makes me scratch my head. Either the real RWH has reached out to touch us– or not. Maybe we are the next No Depression — or not.

      (mumbles and walks off)

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