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Musician has penchant for paradox

Musician has penchant for paradox


Texas troubadour Ray Wylie Hubbard is a singer/songwriter who has been making albums since 1971 and earlier this year released his 15th collection of original music.

The Oklahoma-born and Dallas-reared former folk singer turned country artist, is perhaps best known for having penned "Up Against The Wall, Redneck Mother," famously recorded in 1973 by Jerry Jeff Walker.

Though sadly not as well known nor successful as those of kindred spirit and style -- Walker, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and David Allen Coe -- Hubbard is a renegade warbler who has always walked his own path.

Hubbard has an incredible gift for observation and capturing those observations in words that reflect the yin and yang of things; the paradox, the both sides of a story, situation or experience.

That is even suggested in the title of his latest album, "A. Enlightenment, B. Endarkenment (Hint: There is no C)," the 12-song set is the long-awaited follow up to his 2006 CD, "Snake Farm."

During Hubbard's childhood, his grandmother used to say "Heaven pours down rain and lightning bolts".

"That one line kind of sums it all up for me. Heaven is this beautiful place and yet it pours down rain and lightning bolts on both the just and the unjust," Hubbard said. "I like to look at both enlightenment and endarkenment. I feel comfortable observing each."

The album's title was inspired by a song called "Drunken Poet's Dream," written about Hubbard's favorite classic scribe, Edgar Allen Poe.

"(This song) is my way of honoring Poe's ‘The Raven,' my favorite poem of all time," he said. " I re-read it and as I was laying in bed one night, began thinking 'Here's Poe, he's drinking, he's just lost the most precious thing in his life and all that.' I couldn't use a raven, so I used a black sparrow (in the song)."

Two songs on the album -- "Whoop And Hollar" and "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" -- deal with the need for salvation and redemption.

While other notable numbers include: the tale of a dead prostitute ("Loose"); living life in fear of being literally whisked away ("Tornado Ripe"); and the self-explanatory experience of dealing with winged critters "with a sting like unrighteous hellfire" ("Wasp's Nest").

Along with being a songwriter and performer, Hubbard hosts a weekly Tuesday radio show, "Roots & Branches," that promotes new and established American music artists.

Since the release of "Snake Farm" four years ago, the New Braunfels, Texas, resident has added something new to his resume; having tested his chops as a screenwriter by creating an outlaw western set in the year 1912, so as to blend the Old West with modern times.

"It's set (then), so that we can have a Buick, a motorcycle and automatic weapons as well as horses," he revealed.

Seems that even while working in other creative mediums, Hubbard can not escape from his penchant for the paradox.

Ray Wylie Hubbard, 8 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Shuba's, 3159 N. Southport, Chicago

COST: $15

FYI: (773) 525-2508



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