A Conversation with Ray Wylie Hubbard
Texas music legend Ray Wylie Hubbard comes to Tulsa this Thursday, April 26 for an intimate night of music at the Blue Dome Diner at 2nd & Elgin. He’s touring in support of his new CD, The Grifter’s Hymnal. Although Hubbard penned the Jerry Jeff Walker hit, “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother”, that song is really not representative of Hubbard’s extensive catalogue. While the humor and clever turn of phrase are distinctive Hubbard trademarks, this Soper, Oklahoma born boy is much more a lyrical philosopher-poet than a sh*t kicker, blending elements of folk and blues with his country and spinning it out with a nice twist of cosmic cowboy.
Hubbard is a mentor for many young Texas musicians, and you can hear his influence in the lyrics, music and delivery of artists like The Band of Heathens, Hayes Carll, and up-and-comer Lincoln Durham (whose latest release is Hubbard produced). Hubbard says he didn’t set out to play big musical brother; it just happened that way. “I just kind of ran into these young cats that I really like, like Slaid Cleaves and Hayes Carll, and I took them out on the road with me and showed them some fingerpicking patterns…being out on the road back when they were first starting out, showed them how to handle some gigs. So, it’s not something that I’d really planned on doing, but I like these guys and I like what they’re doing. Their hearts are in the right place. I enjoyed it. It’s fun,” he told me.
“I really enjoyed getting in there with these young guys like Lincoln (Durham), and I produced The Band of Heathens. I enjoyed that because it’s kind of one of those things – in order to keep it, you got to kind of give it away,” he laughed. “I think one of the things, too, is that hanging around some of these cats like Lincoln and Slaid and Hayes, you know, it keeps me on my toes…I have to stay on my game because they’re so good, it keeps me looking over my shoulder…It keeps me aware of what’s going on, and I really like those guys…It keeps me current, I think.”
Hubbard’s sound draws from so many styles of music. I asked him what he thought about being labeled an Americana artist. “Americana is fine with me, “ he told me. “I’m not a country singer and I’m not a rock and roll guy, but I’ve been influenced by country music and rock and roll and blues, and so of all the labels, Americana, I’m comfortable with that because it encompasses the vibe, as well. It’s not just limited to one kind of music. It has all of these other influences. “
Hubbard continued, “I’m very grateful. I’m an old cat, but I feel very fortunate to have seen Lightnin’ Hopkins and Freddie King. I saw Ernest Tubb play and Gary Stewart, so it’s kind of a combination of not just the different forms of music that’s influenced me, but the great musicians in that form of music. I guess it’s the ‘character’ in their songwriting that’s influenced me.”
“Tulsa’s got a great music scene,” Hubbard commented about the upcoming show. “I was born down near Hugo, Oklahoma. We moved to Dallas when my dad became principal of an elementary school in Dallas when I was about 8 or 9. But Oklahoma is still in me. I can’t wash that off,” he laughed. “It’s always part of me. I’m really looking forward to coming up there. I’ve always had a wonderful time up there.”
For more information on this show, visit Tulsa Roots Music.
– with permission from The Current.