Ray Wylie Hubbard | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Ray Wylie Hubbard 

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Back in the distant 70s Ray Wylie Hubbard was among the first wave of Texas country outsiders, outlaws like Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Billie Joe Shaver. But after Jerry Jeff Walker scored a hit with Hubbard's "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother," Hubbard faded into relative obscurity, his name unknown outside of Texas. After nearly two decades of roughneck honky-tonks, hard drinking, and lots of drugs, he's back and a changed man thanks to marriage and children. A self-released 1993 album first signaled the shift to a more contemplative style of writing, but it's last year's impressive Loco Gringo's Lament (Dejadisc) that deserves notice. On this gorgeous rootsy affair some of Austin's finest musicians deliver a resonant, mostly acoustic purity, but Hubbard's songs--highly literate character studies and stirring narratives with arresting imagery and turns of phrase--earn the real attention. While the booze-fueled jealousy of "Wanna Rock and Roll" alludes to his reckless past ("Through the blues and the smoke I saw on the dance floor / She was with another man / The dead man's name was Louie Dupree"), most of the songs meditate on surviving the everyday tribulations of a hard-knock life. These tunes radiate a realistic darkness--one that it's possible to see through. At this appearance, his Chicago debut, Hubbard will perform with guitarist Terry "Buffalo" Ware. Saturday, 8 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 525-2508.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Jennifer Jaqua.

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