Ray Wylie Hubbard knocks on The Blue Door 

As 2008 comes to a close, Ray Wylie Hubbard can look back at a very busy year: He co-wrote a script and scored a movie that's currently in post-production; produced albums by two other artists; is readying a new, live album recorded earlier this year; written a batch of songs for a new studio album to be recorded and released in 2009; and has hosted an ongoing live performance show broadcast by a radio station in New Braunfels, Texas.

"I'm either versatile or spreading myself too thin," Hubbard said, with the self-deprecating wit fans revere.

Hubbard said the film, "The Last Rites of Ransom Pride," was formed from a mutual admiration he shared with journalist and nonfiction writer Charles Bowden and film director Tiller Russell.

"Charles Bowden writes dark, investigative nonfiction books. I met him and love his stuff. He heard my music and sent it to Tiller and said, 'You need to hear this guy,'" Hubbard said. "So I got a phone call out of the blue from Tiller, who said, 'I heard this song, "Resurrection," and I want to do a video of it.'

"I told him that was from my record from eight years earlier and I didn't have a record deal at the time, so there's no reason to make a video of it."

BROODING STYLE
Russell persisted, so Hubbard agreed to re-record "Resurrection" during the sessions for his 2006 album, "Snake Farm," with the proviso that the new version of the song would be done in the darker, more brooding style of that album, rather than in the jauntier, more bluegrass style of the original.

The collaboration on the music video, and their shared love of the late director Sam Peckinpah's movies, led Russell and Hubbard to write their own dark Western.

"It's basically about a bunch of despicable people cussing and killing each other in Texas and Mexico in 1911 or so," Hubbard said. "It's a lot like Peckinpah " it's about big themes like honor and about a young kid coming of age, and he starts off kind of naive and at the end, he's turned into a bad guy."

Filmed over 32 days in Canada, "The Last Rites" cast includes Kris Kristofferson, Jason Priestly, Lizzie Caplan, Scott Speedman, Jon Foster (whom Hubbard called "a new Steve McQueen") and country singer Dwight Yoakum. The movie is tentatively set for release in September 2009.

Hubbard is quick, however, to deflate any perceived pomposity that might be derived from his role as a screenwriter.

"I just came up with the right cussword every once in a while," he said, with a dry, throaty chuckle.

Entwined with his work on the movie, he also found time to produce a forthcoming album by Americana act Liz and Lincoln Durham, who will be opening for Hubbard at The Blue Door.

"It's the same sort of stuff I've been writing and you hear on 'Snake Farm,'" he said. "The Blue Door is one of my favorite gigs. It's always fun, so I'm always looking forward to it." "C.G. Niebank

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