Americana iconoclast Ray Wylie Hubbard may be 68, but don’t let that make you think he has slowed down in any way. Set to be released on April 7 on his own Bordello Records, Hubbard’s latest album, The Ruffian’s Misfortune, is evidence that the sexagenarian still has his foot on the gas pedal.
Three decades or so into a legendary career in folk, progressive country, and honky-tonk music, Hubbard finally learned how to play the blues in his 40s. That turn of the century discovery has fueled his late-career renaissance, from 2001’s Eternal and Lowdown to 2012’s The Grifter’s Hymnal—an album which earned him his first ever appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman. The Ruffian’s Misfortune continues in that vein, with Hubbard’s slide playing supported by the twin lead guitars of Gabe Rhodes and Hubbard’s 21-year-old son Lucas laying down what the elder Hubbard describes as “vicious nasty licks.”
Underneath it all, Hubbard remains a storyteller, filling the album’s ten songs with his usual motley cast of wayward souls—gamblers, drunks, rocker chicks, and a car thief among them. Indeed, Hubbard is also preparing to tell his own story with his autobiography A Life…Well, Lived set to be released shortly after The Ruffian’s Misfortune.
Hubbard cites Pinetop Perkins playing into his 90s as a source of inspiration, so The Ruffian’s Misfortune and A Life…Well, Lived are the latest chapters in a life and career that may very well continue for another two decades.