Artist Spotlight: Ray Wylie Hubbard

Ray Wylie Hubbard is the mastermind behind Grit 'n Groove Festival. This one-of-a-kind festival will be held on April 6, 2013 at Whitewater Amphitheater in New Braunfels, TX. Click here for more details.

KNBT Texas Style Music Fest - Gruene Hall - October 2011
Ray was born in Oklahoma and lived there until his family moved to Texas when he was 8 years old. He spent the rest of his boyhood years in the Oak Cliff community on the south side of Dallas. After high school graduation in 1965, he began traveling to Red River New Mexico spending his summers honing his singing and songwriting skills. He attended North Texas State University (now UNT) as an English major, and it was during this time that he allegedly spent time at Mother Blues in Dallas, met a stripper and bought a Les Paul gold top from "Jack Jones" for $500 which he apparently raised by selling his father's car on Ross Avenue; allegedly. He also met other fellow songwriters such as B.W. Stevenson, Bob Livingston and Jerry Jeff Walker during the late 60's and early 70's. In 1973 Walker cut Ray's "Up Against The Wall, Red Neck" on his live Viva Terlingua album after pressuring him to complete the song which he did on the spot during a phone call. It was this particular live album recording when Ray was first referred to as Ray "Wylie" Hubbard by Bob Livingston.

A short while later Ray formed a band and cut an album "Ray Wylie Hubbard & The Cowboy Twinkies" which could have been a huge victory and big deal for the young musician, but after becoming the victim of over production by Nashville folk; it's not something he looks back on now with a great deal of pride. Before the close of the 70's after The Cowboy Twinkies disbanded; he began touring with the Lost Gonzo Band and recorded "Off The Wall" on Willie Nelson's Lonestar label. This finally released Ray's hit song "Redneck Mother" as well as a live cut with the Lost Gonzos in full effect, but he didn't enjoy quite the success with it as Walker had at the time. Even so, to this day Redneck Mother has become one of the top requested tunes at live shows and has shared the endearing title of "albatross" with his later hit "Snake Farm". Hubbard's time with the Lost Gonzo Band helped secure their reputation as a band that both Hubbard and Walker stole from each other.

The early 1980s brought two live albums that feel a bit transitional, yet still give you a good feel for where Ray had been and where he was going. "Something About The Night" came out in 1980 and "Caught in the Act" in 1984. Neither scored Ray big praise or awards, but after these 2 albums Ray went into a period of touring, growing his fanbase and finally recovering from a multi-decade alcohol and substance abuse problem. Now I've seen his recovery attributed to some encouraging words from Stevie Ray Vaughn, but I suspect a big part of his continued sobriety was due to his marriage to "Mother Blues door girl" Judy in February of 1989.

Ray's first real record deal came in 1991 with the album "Lost Train of Thought" on which several of Rays big standards and some other great songs originally surfaced including a duet "These Eyes" with Willie Nelson and "Wanna Rock and Roll" that would begin to make regular appearances on Cross Canadian Ragweed set lists in the 90s and appeared on the "Back to Tulsa: Live and Loud At Cain's Balroom" album. Over the next few years Ray released album after album of music that exemplified the masterful songwriter, storyteller and artist he had become. Ray Wylie Hubbard had finally come into his own and earned a well deserved reputation as one of Texas' top songwriters.

In the late 90's Ray and family put down roots in Wimberley, TX and after establishing some local relationships in particular one with station owner/operator Mattson Rainer of 92.1 KNBT FM (New Braunfels Communications) in New Braunfels; they started a weekly radio program called "Roots and Branches of Americana with Ray Wylie Hubbard". Ray interviews songwriters or sometimes full bands and they perform their material live as well as promote new albums and/or touring schedules.

Back to Ray's musical resume, he has continued to release gem after gem including his all-time favorite (just kidding) "Snake Farm" which contains a song by the same title that has become highly requested although it was a bit of a novelty, and I've heard (as I mentioned earlier) it referred to as an albatross that just keeps hanging on for dear life. I happen to like "Snake Farm" and rather enjoy hearing about Ramona's keen sense of humor and the tattoos down her arm. Ray has told a story of a couple that called him from a tattoo parlor wanting to know if the mouse or the python was wearing the sailor hat because they were trying to immortalize the moment of musical history in ink.

Aside from a Vietnam Vets Fundraiser about 20 years ago, the 2009 Grit 'n Groove Fest in Luckenbach was the first music festival that Ray's name has been associated with as headliner and conceptus generalus. It was finally time to pull together a group of musicians that Ray enjoyed listening to. Not only did he have present the likes of Carrie Rodriguez, Hayes Carll, Band of Heathens and several others; he also had the "not yet 100% established" The Trishas there selling merchandise and helping with the festival. This was only 3 months after the girls made their first appearance together as a group at The Music Fest in Steamboat Springs, CO in January of 2009 during a living tribute to Savannah Welch's father, songwriter Kevin Welch. Ray has continued this amazing "one-of-a-kind" festival each year since then with exception of 2012 which he took off to promote the release of his latest amazing album "The Grifter's Hymnal". Grit 'n Groove moved to Whitewater Amphitheater in New Braunfels, TX in 2011 and thankfully for us locals in this area he decided to continue in New Braunfels this year.

See the full line up for 2013 Grit 'n Groove Festival as well as interviews with other artists on the bill, and we hope to see you there on April 6!

Ray's website
Grit 'n Groove website
Ray's Facebook page
Ray's twitter

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