To borrow a phrase from the man himself, Ray Wylie Hubbard is one "cool cat." He's a Texas music scene elder statesman, a singer songwriter, a modern day poet, a storyteller, a keen picker and an out and out funny guy. Hubbard is also quite endearing and easily wins over an audience with his charm and wit. All of these traits were front and center when he played Brooklyn this past Saturday night at Hill Country Live.
The BBQ eatery/roadhouse is an unlikely, yet intimate, setting to see some of the best music acts today and it was a certainly a pleasure to have Ray Wylie Hubbard and has band of two grace the stage. Kyle Schneider keeps the rhythm on percussion and son Lucas, (there is no doubt how proud Hubbard is to share the stage with him), skillfully handles the electric guitar.
All in, it was an hour and a half that went by way too quickly. Hubbard opened with "Rabbit" and continued with songs old and new, interspersed with the stories associated with them; sometimes telling stories, as in the case of how he came to write with Ronnie Dunn, just because he felt like it. Included on the set list were "Drunken Poet's Dream," "Count My Blessings" and "Train Ride" which he wrote with Liz Foster of The Trishas. He encouraged sing- a-longs to "Snake Farm," "Choctaw Bingo" and "Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother." He played the latter because he "didn't want people leaving disappointed if I didn't play it" as he was when he went to a Dylan concert and Dylan didn't play a song he was hoping to hear. Prior to "Wanna Rock and Roll" he stressed the importance of the first amendment, "that's why it's first," in relation to songwriting. He noted that even though people complain about lyrics in rap music, Ralph Stanley and Bill Monroe probably killed more people in their songs than Ice-T and 50 Cent; and if there wasn't such a thing as freedom of speech, his own repertoire would be cut in half!
Amid all of the fun and laughter there were also a few solemn moments, especially when Hubbard performed the track that closes The Ruffian's Misfortune (Hubbard's latest album), "Stone Blind Horses."
Early on, Hubbard told the crowd that if anyone was there seeing him for the first time they should know that he is "an acquired taste." That night, the music was something that everyone found more than palatable.