Ray Wylie Hubbard – Hill Country Live (New York, NY)

Ray Wylie Hubbard Hill Country
Photo by Derek Meade

“Snake Farm—sounds a little bit nasty. Snake Farm—well it pretty much is,” was Ray Wylie Hubbard’s opening salvo, and it pretty well described the deliciously naughty set which followed. Hubbard’s songs walk a line of disrespect without ever straying into unkindness, or far from humor.

Driven by airline surcharges, Hubbard brought only one guitar and used his frequent re-tunings to treat us to his inimitable stories about his life and songs. Tongue firmly in cheek, Hubbard blamed the work-release policy of Travis County for not bringing a band, but he really didn’t need more than drummer Kyle Schneider, who sang harmony and, with a bare kit and a shaker, kicked in exactly where he was needed and no more—a talent rare among drummers.

Hubbard’s solo and co-written classics like “Drunken Poet’s Dream” and “Mother Blues” had the audience on its feet, as did “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother,” which he introduced with, “It has three chords, it’s loud and politically incorrect…but careers have been built on less.”

They say, “Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.” Hubbard’s off-the-wall take on dark subjects can distract us from how brilliantly he writes.  In “The Messenger,” Hubbard lists cravings he’s left behind, quotes the Austrian poet Rilke, references Townes Van Zandt and allows us a focused look into his songwriting strength. “I’m wearing my time behind the eyes in my face…I’m not looking for diamonds, I’m just looking for what comes next.”  A shining goal, one that Hubbard consistently and easily achieves.

– Suzanne Cadgene

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