Written by Samuel Barker
Sep 26, 2013 at 06:30 PM
ImageDiscovery Green has really been outdoing itself with their Thursday Night Concert Series. They’ve been pulling in some stellar acts, filling up the lawn and showing everyone a good time. If you’ve looked through this site, you see we’ve made it out to quite a few of them. Luckily, I finally got to make it out to one on a special night, Ray Wylie Hubbard was in town.

For quite a while I’ve been trying to catch Hubbard live, but his schedule and mine tend to run parallel, so it just never seems to fall in place. Outside of seeing the top of his head at Cactus in-store about 3 years ago, I have no stories of seeing one of Texas’ finest songwriters and musicians live.

I missed the train of Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother and the lore of that song. My first exposure to Hubbard was the Snake Farm album and I was hooked ever since. The great finger picking blues stylings, witty lyrics and country-tinged rock sound make Hubbard something to hear…and eventually see.

After the opening act, Shinyribs, left the stage, Hubbard and his band, Kyle Snider on drums and Jon Michael on bass, took over and never looked back.

From the opening tune, Snake Farm, Hubbard did not miss a beat. He rolled through crowd favorites like Drunken Poet’s Dream (written with local boy Hayes Carll), Count My Blessings and, of course, Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother. The between song banter, complete with stories and hilarious jokes, was almost as good as the tunes were.

The audience did its part to give back to Hubbard and company. Folks danced and filled the walkway in front of the stage to sing the songs back to the band, though not always to their best abilities. During Up Against the Wall, Hubbard dropped out on a final chorus to let the audience sing along but the audience had a hard time finding the beat when the drums dropped out. Hubbard told the folks to save any money they would spend on his music and pick up a pitch pipe and/or metronome to help. This was one of the best shared laughs of the evening.

Train Yard, written by Hubbard and Liz Foster of the Trishas, had another joke attached that sent the folks giggling. While I’d hate to give away the punchline, let’s just say Hubbard would be the life of the party as a female.

ImageIt was moments like this that show how well Hubbard understands folks. He can create songs that captivate the audience, capture moments of their lives and weave them all together with tales that leave them laughing and thinking at the same time. That’s one hell of a way to complete at set, let me tell you.

The night began winding down with a sing-along version of Screw You, We’re From Texas, which everyone finally got right. The audience danced, high-fived and smiled while screaming back the words to Hubbard.

Finally, the band kicked it into high gear with a searing version of Wanna Rock n’ Roll. Hubbard put the pickup in his acoustic to work on this tune and turned up the gain. Snider pounded his minimalist drumset and made it sound huge. This was the perfect way to shut the night down, everyone rocked along and everything was left on the stage…

Except, Hubbard came back for one more tune, a cover of James McMurty’s Choctaw Bingo. In fact, he never even walked completely off the stage, he smiled at the audience and kicked right into the song as Snider and Michael rushed back to the stage.

The audience sounded like they were singing along, Hubbard and his band plowed through the song and rocked it out like you’d hope they would following the killer end of the set. But, the last verse of the song is a bit…how should we put this?…colorful? lust-filled?

Regardless, Hubbard saw the kids dancing and knew it might be a bit much, so he asked the audience to sing the verse so he wouldn’t be alone in the act…He stepped back from the mic and the first line of the verse rang through clear with each following line getting more mumbled, stumbled and outright ignored.

While stumbling into the finish line may be a downer for some people, it added the comic relief that completed the night. Hubbard and the band tore through the final chorus, we all had a great laugh and everyone left knowing there was no better place to be that night. Isn’t that all you REALLY want from a show?