Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ray Wylie Hubbard at the Double Door Inn, Charlotte, North Carolina

Live review: Ray Wylie Hubbard, Double Door Inn, 8/9/2012

Posted by Lew Herman on Fri, Aug 10, 2012 at 4:13 PM

Ray Wylie Hubbard
Double Door
Aug. 9, 2012

Looking like an older and wiser John Lennon, Texas songster and Oklahoma-raised Ray Wylie Hubbard eased into a long set Thursday night with charm, sly humor and a dose of articulate, potent tunes on topics ranging from 19th century poetry (“Drunken Poets Dream”) to sing-along’s about reptile raising (“Snake Farm"). It was a geezer crowd, which made sense - Hubbard is well over 60 himself (“I don’t want to peak too soon”) - but there was a scattering of all ages among the dense, sellout crowd.

Best known by some for his anthem “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother,” he performed as a top-caliber showman, guitarist and talker, introducing all songs and sucking the crowd into every tune he offered. Introducing his “band” consisting solely of drummer Kyle Schneider, he moved quickly into classic form with “Snake Farm.”

He oozes charm and charisma and has written some incredibly good songs. Taking his time, some of his jaw-dropping tunes were mini raveups lasting five or 10 minutes, with his nasally voice, crackling lyrics and snaky slide guitar anchored by his rock-steady drummer and maracas player.
Hubbard's cover of James McMurtry’s “Choctaw Bingo” was spot-on, while some songs surprisingly resembled "Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream” or the talking blues of Rambling Jack Elliott. He played “Down Home Country Blues” reminiscent of fellow Oklahoman Woody Guthrie, with folksy yet outspoken political and cultural outbursts. Hubbard even quoted Guthrie’s famous statement of purpose: “To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” He’s not entirely P.C., but that’s part of his charm.

Hubbard is one of the original cosmic cowboy Texas singer/songwriters in the Jerry Jeff Walker tradition (Walker made Hubbard's "Redneck Mother" famous) In the 1970s, Hubbard was too confrontational, outrageous and ornery for the record companies and public. Often shunned, Hubbard has survived and prospered from singers who have covered his songs, “including even Cracker,” he recalls. Today, he may be even more valid than ever. If I was in charge, he’d be declared a national treasure.

Comments (20)

Showing 1-20 of 20

Probably the most overrated Texas singer-songwriter ever...do yourself a favor and seek out guys like Brian Burns, Chris Wall, Jerrod Medulla, Ronnie Spears, etc., who are actually talented.
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Posted by Jud Block on 08/10/2012 at 5:01 PM

Yeah, not hardly dude. Ray Wylie is an artisan of great, witty songs you obviously have bad taste.
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Posted by El Boz on 08/10/2012 at 6:27 PM

Thanks for the kind words Lew. Last nights sold out show must have been full of people with bad taste in music according to Judd here. I am friends with 3 of the songwriters he mentioned to check out and they are all good writers and wonderful guys who have utmost admiration and respect for Ray. I must have pissed Judd off at some point by not letting him record the show or let his band open...haaaa! Wouldn't be the first time!
Mother Hubbard
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Posted by AskMotherHubbard on 08/10/2012 at 6:45 PM via mobile 

Puhleeez, Mr. Block!! Just listened to yr Myspace page. You're like Jakob Dylan calling dad overrated. Ray Wylie -- better watch out! Tee-hee.
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Posted by brian, your savior on 08/10/2012 at 7:13 PM

"The problem with irony is not everybody gets it." - Ray Wylie Hubbard
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Posted by Mark Kemp on 08/10/2012 at 8:25 PM

Naw Mother Hubbard, you didn't piss me off, but I'm not a fan of your husband's music or his attitude concerning some of his more popular songs...I'm from Texas, so I'm quite acquainted with his work...and Mark, if Ray Wylie believes "Screw You" is ironic, then he doesn't understand irony. Brian, you're clueless my friend...that MySpace page hasn't been active for years...I'd be glad to send you a copy of my new CD, which Creative Loafing has ignored, if you want...but I want to warn you, it's more than just boogie rhythms and repeated lines...might actually cause a synapse to fire, which I'm sure you're not used to.
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Posted by Jud Block on 08/10/2012 at 9:10 PM

Well Jud you truly have no clue regarding the meaning behind his songs as "Screw you" was written as a joke and he tells the story at every gig. Yes it is meant to be tongue and cheek. Maybe there is a reason Creative Loafing has ignored your music....go figure.
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Posted by AskMotherHubbard on 08/10/2012 at 9:30 PM

I fully understand what he thinks he accomplished with that song, but if that's irony, I'll turn in my English degree...
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Posted by Jud Block on 08/10/2012 at 9:44 PM via mobile 

Jud, ya might wanna tread lightly around here, lest you find yourself included in a RWH song. Does "Jimmy Perkins" ring a bell?
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Posted by Okey Stoneburner on 08/10/2012 at 11:02 PM

Life's too short to tread lightly...speak your piece and back it up...plus, he's definitely going to end up in one of mine...so let the games begin!
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Posted by Jud Block on 08/10/2012 at 11:10 PM via mobile 

Mother Hubbard's first comment confuses me. What does being friends with 3 of the 4 artists Jud mentioned have to do with anything? I can put my hands on easily two or three hundred people I know who are friends with all four, me included. And yep, every one of those artists gives RWH props for what he's meant to Texas music. Rightful, well deserved props. None of which changes the fact that Ray's best work, much like Steve Earle's, is a long way in the rearview. The primary value he adds these days is behind the scenes: the tremendous work he does either in the studio or by actively supporting younger talent. His music these days is an acquired taste, which is not necessarily a bad thing. But simply being different, gruff, edgy, whatever one wants to call it is not enough to qualify for status as the sort of legendary performer this review seems to crown RWH as being.

Anyone reading this can say maybe Jud could/should have worded his comment better. Or picked another forum to raise the topic. But it's simply not possible to realistically argue that his core point lacks intrinsic merit. Of course, exceptions are made for family as well as those benighted souls who live in the musical and cultural wasteland known as Charlotte. Bless your hearts.
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Posted by Dave Pilot on 08/10/2012 at 11:16 PM

Dave, I disagree wholeheartedly with your statement that Ray's best work is a long way in the rear view mirror. Red Badge of Courage, South of the River and Count My Blessings from his last CD are amazing songs. He is legendary because his writing evokes emotion and because he is genuine and authentic in delivery. His co-write with Hayes Carll, Drunken Poets Dream was listed by American Songwriter Magazine as a top song. I hope you are not looking at Redneck mother as an example of his best work, because you are overlooking 30 years of some amazing songs. (There are Some Days is brilliant)

And you may not find him legendary, that is your opinion, luckily, there are people like Ringo Starr, Joe Walsh, Guy Clark, Ian McLagen and many many other notable superstars of music who find him talented and legendary enough to work with. Not to mention the fans and critics all across the country who love him for the combined talents of gruff, soulfull singer and thoughtful, authentic, songwriter as well as being a truly great human being who truly appreciates his fans.

Judd, your remark about boogie rhythms and repeated lines is funny, as that is pretty much the definition of country blues ; it leads me to wonder what your review of STevie Ray Vaughn, Muddy Waters, or Lightnin' Hopkins would be. Perhaps they too would not be considered legendary by your standards.Perhaps you are looking at the likes of Pat Green or Randy Rogers as your ideal Texas singer songwriter--if so, then yeah, I bet to you Ray Wylie Hubbard might be a bit off--and for those who truly know music, we are glad he is.
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Posted by Jodi J Tidwell on 08/11/2012 at 12:55 AM

Two things I find humorous: Both of you are writers who are unsuccessful as writers yet quick to judge someone who could eat a bowl of alphabet soup and shit better lyrics than either one of you.
Second, you choose to make mean spirited comments about someone on a comment section of an article which is a review of a live show which neither of you attended. I understand not having a taste for RWH, I certainly don't like a lot of what I hear out there but don't troll sites with the intention of spewing arrogance and judgement.
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Posted by AskMotherHubbard on 08/11/2012 at 1:01 AM

Fair points, Jodi, and clearly you're one of the ones his stuff works for. Music is indeed a subjective beast. For my money, two of the four artists Jud originally mentioned consistently write songs that Ray's cannot touch on any level. The other two are better singers by far, but that is definitively a subjective opinion and open to discussion.

If we're going to define legendary status by who a given artist works with, though, we're going to open up a whole big can of worms. Willie Nelson proves all the time that he'll work with anybody who's opening up a checkbook. And I love Willie, don't get me wrong. But an artist claiming that working with him legitimizes their craft is potentially well off base.

It's funny that you brought up Pat Green and Randy Rogers, by the way. Here in Texas, those two -- and frankly the bulk of the Red Dirt followers these days -- play well with the Ballcap Nation and are viewed with disdain by anyone who appreciates what Blaze Foley used to put out. At the online publication I write for, we specifically look for artists like a Brian Burns, a Houston Marchman, a Jackson Taylor or even a Mike Ness whose art is worth appreciating. For Carolina equivalents, see David Childers or The Backsliders back in the day. We leave the entertainers anybody canmindlessly enjoy (see Fowler, Kevin) to the big glossy print outfits like Texas Music magazine that'll write a glowing review for anybody willing to pay the promotional fee.

I respect the hell out of Ray Wylie Hubbard for what he's accomplished, what he's done, and what he continues to do aside from recording. And I listen to all of his records, because as a music writer it's my job to do so. But his stuff doesn't make the cut for airplay in my truck, and aside from the occasional times he's popped in at Luckenbach when I happen to be around over the years, I wouldn't spend my time listening to him for free. None of which means he shouldn't be relevant to you, or that his music can't move your soul. If it does, great. In the grand scheme of things, though, when we're talking about timeless songs borne of souls poured out on six-strings and able to withstand the test of time, it's tough not to argue that Ray is overrated. That's not the same thing as saying he sucks, or isn't worthwhile. If anything, it just points out that there are plenty of others out there worth a long look.
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Posted by Dave Pilot on 08/11/2012 at 1:16 AM

Mother Hubbard, please explain how you've arrived at the conclusion that I am unsuccessful as a writer. You've sparked my curiosity.

You are correct, however, that Ray can shit out a better lyric than I can any day. Which is why I do not, and have not ever, claimed or attempted to be a songwriter.

The troll comment, though, is funny and I appreciate the laugh. Maybe we'll wind up in the same venue one day and I can buy you a Lone Star.
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Posted by Dave Pilot on 08/11/2012 at 1:23 AM

Jodi, naw, I'm more of a Kevin Fowler or Jason Aldean fan; hell, basically anyone who sings about ammo, sexy trucks and tractors, I'm there...I'll have to look into this "country blues" you speak of...

Mother Hubbard, I'm finding it amusing that you're taking these opinions -- and remember that's all they are -- so hard...makes me think we've hit on a sore spot for you...this can't be the first time RWH has had a critical comment made about him, right?...why, you've made numerous ones about me just in this thread alone, and I know for a fact that you've never heard my music or lyrics...anyway, it's been fun, but life does, indeed, go one...here's to all the RWH defenders, y'all are true fans...hope to see y'all at a show sometime.
Posted by Jud Block on 08/11/2012 at 8:00 AM

FYI Dave, I'm from Texas... I live in Texas. I frequent Luckenbach and I listen to a large selection of Texas music.

I can't stand anyone thinking I'm not and that is my last word on this.

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Posted by Jodi J Tidwell on 08/11/2012 at 12:10 PM

Bueno, Jodi. I'm not hard to find on Facebook. Say hi anytime. Maybe my wife and I will run into you at Luckenbach sometime, or anywhere else around Texas from the Back Porch in Port A all the way up north of Fort Worth where we live. You've got a great way of voicing your opinions, which means you're interesting, so even if we disagree it'd be good to talk music over a cold one sometime.

It's funny - and somewhat indicative of the pseudo-scene in Charlotte - that the opinionated voices on this comment thread come from Texas and Oklahoma. At least it's a blessing that where we live, on the right side of the Red River, there's a broad music net that runs from Janis to Buddy, Waylon to Stevie Ray, Norah to Sir Doug, Blaze and Townes to ZZ Top.

Take good care.
Posted by Dave Pilot on 08/11/2012 at 7:54 PM

Dave: First you praise Charlotte singer/songwriter David Childers (and rightly so) as part of your not-so-subtle validation of the glorious publication you write for and dismissal of another publication, and then you dis Charlotte for its "pseudo-scene" (whatever that means) and its inability to offer up enough opinions in this thread. You want opinionated from this side of the Red River? How about this: You are one arrogant fuck.
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Posted by brian, your savior on 08/12/2012 at 11:56 PM

Why go out of your way to comment on a show you did not attend? I was there, it was packed with young and old (o.k. mostly older). It was a good show. Everyone stayed until the end and left smiling. Charlotte is not Austin, but why would you be trashing a live music venue if that is where your bread is buttered. I can assure you the next time I see Jud Block playing in the area I will remember you only for your negative comments.
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Posted by Spider Murphy on 08/13/2012 at 5:00 PM


You are welcome, Mother Hubbard! Most of the peeps attending had decent taste. And hardly any left early. Paraphrasing  A. Lincoln and B. Dylan:
"You can't please all the people, all the time.

("You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time") 


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