Wednesday 16 Apr

Dustin Prinz - Eleven

Few musicians take the time to master their instrument in the way that Oklahoma City singer-songwriter Dustin Prinz has; he’s a guitar virtuoso in every sense of the word, and Eleven gives him the chance to show just how far he can push that skill.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Horse Thief – Fear in Bliss

Listening to Horse Thief’s previous release — the haphazardly melodramatic Grow Deep, Grow Wild — felt like a chore. Whatever potential the Oklahoma City folk-pop act demonstrated on the EP was obscured behind a formulaic, contrived and ultimately hollow cloud. But it at least offered a glimmer of promise for a band consisting of, frankly, five pretty talented dudes. Critics saw it; the band’s management saw it; its current label, Bella Union, saw it; and its increasingly fervid fan base saw it.
04/08/2014 | Comments 0

Colourmusic — May You Marry Rich

There’s always a sense of danger when debuting songs in a live setting and playing them well. Without having heard the studio versions, expectations are set according to the live incarnations. But capturing the breadth of free-flowing atmosphere and sheer volume on a disc, vinyl or digital file isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially for a band as vociferous as Colourmusic.
04/01/2014 | Comments 0

Em and the MotherSuperiors — Churches into Theaters

As titles go, Churches into Theaters is an apt descriptor for the debut album from Oklahoma City rockers Em and the MotherSuperiors. It’s a reverential record, one that shares the gospel of classic rock, blues and soul but embraces the need to refashion it for modern times, channeling The Dead Weather, Grace Potter and Cage the Elephant along the way.
03/25/2014 | Comments 0

Rachel Brashear — Revolution

Rachel Brashear’s second EP, Revolution, starts with a kick to the shins.
03/18/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Music · Music · Ray’s way

Ray’s way

Free of drugs and drink, Ray Wylie Hubbard now keeps his creative fires stoked by giving back to the music community

Chris Parker January 18th, 2011

Born in the tiny Oklahoma town of Soper, singer/songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard moved to Texas as a kid and became one of its deans of songwriters, if by a rather circuitous route.

Ray Wylie Hubbard and John Fullbright
8 p.m. Friday-Saturday
The Blue Door
2805 N. McKinley
$25 advance, $30 door

He received his big break via Jerry Jeff Walker, who turned his track, “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother,” into a hit in 1973. That inaugurated a 15-year stretch of good times and wild partying (or vice versa) for Hubbard that ended only when he got sober.

Now in the process of writing his memoirs, the 64-year-old countryrocker has had time to reflect on those crazy days.

“I wrote some songs and played and had some great gigs and a great time, but I look now as I’ve gotten older, what have I really contributed?” said Hubbard, who celebrates The Blue Door’s 19th anniversary with shows on Friday and Saturday. “I don’t feel like I really contributed a lot. Now that I got clean and sober and wrote these songs, I’m kind of giving something back.”

This time last year, he released his 14th studio album, the darkly redemptive “A. Enlightenment B. Endarkenment (Hint: There is No C),” whose title track describes fate’s capricious nature over a raw, sinister, bluesy drone. It sounds like one of Clint Eastwood’s spaghetti Westerns, but given an honest, sun-scorched, dusty-tumbleweed grime. Which was pretty much its inspiration.

A few years back, Hubbard and documentarian Russell Tiller wrote a Western, “The Last Rites of Ransom Pride,” “about a bunch of despicable people cussing and killing each other in Texas in 1912,” to hear him tell it. Released in 2009, it was a “really exciting and really heartbreaking” experience for Hubbard, who was eased out of his role writing the movie’s score after Hollywood suits got involved.

While disappointing, it provided a basis for the last album, giving him the songs “Black Wings,” “Opium” and “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” as well as an bluesy undercurrent that echoes the hardbitten resilience of those old-school outlaws.

Having worked with Texas mainstays Lloyd Maines and Gurf Morlix on previous efforts, Hubbard produced the disc himself, drawing heavily on the lessons they taught him.

“The thing I’ve learned from Lloyd and Gurf is four qualities: You got to have taste, even on guitar licks; it has to have tone and a groove; but it’s got to have a little grit to it, too,” Hubbard said.

He enjoyed the experience so much, he’s been trying his hand on the knobs for other acts, including Band of Heathens. He’s planning to go into the studio this year with roots rocker Lincoln Durham and folk rocker Charlie Shafter. Hubbard said Shafter’s songs recall the power of Townes Van Zandt.

But that’s not all. Beside the producing, memoir-writing, hosting a series of writing workshops with Kevin Welch, writing a TV pilot, and working this summer on a new album, Hubbard is also pulling together his third annual “Grit & Groove” music festival, scheduled for April 2 in New Braunfels, Texas, featuring James McMurtry and The Black Crowes, among others.

He’s not just giving back, but heaping on the goodness.

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