Ray Wylie Hubbard celebrated his 70th Birthday Bash with special guests Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams
Most people celebrate a birthday by going out to eat, throwing a party, or attending a concert. If you’re an entertainer, though, you work on your big day. And when you turn 70 and Texans regard you as a state treasure, you have a birthday bash and let the party come to you.
That happened Thursday night at the intimate Kessler Theater in Dallas. A full house was on hand on the first night of a two-night gig to give best wishes as Ray Wylie Hubbard became a septuagenarian.
Getting the party started was Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams. The husband-and-wife duo livened up the early-arriving crowd with robust vocals from Teresa and superb musical backing from Larry.
Campbell played many years with Bob Dylan and then Levon Helm, adding immense musical knowledge along the way. Teresa has a country/blues/folk/gospel voice that delighted the crowd. â€œYou’re Running Wild,â€ â€œYou’ll Never Again Be Mine,â€ and â€œKeep Your Lamp Trimmedâ€ all showcased their individual abilities and their tight chemistry together.
The Birthday Boy then came out and immediately began entertaining with â€œRabbitâ€ and the singalong song â€œSnake Farm.â€ He told a story of reading a book of French poetry that had the moral of â€œYou get more attention burning down the barn than carrying out the trash,â€ which led to â€œDrunken Poet’s Dream.â€
Ray has learned how to put together a show of music, stories, and making the audience feel like they were right there with him during some of his illicit escapades. That feeling carried into â€œDown Home Country Bluesâ€ and â€œTrain Yard.â€
â€œMississippi Flushâ€ told how a royal flush is the best possible hand in poker, but any five cards and a small revolver beats it every time. â€œMother Bluesâ€ was about the famous, or infamous, nightclub in Dallas where the real party started after the club closed. He even ended up marrying the door girl from there.
The beautiful Liz Foster from The Trishas then came onstage to help sing â€œCount My Blessings.â€ Her country-blues voice combined wonderfully with Ray’s, and Lucas Hubbard’s guitar solo turned this into a jam. Hubbard’s son continued to strum the blues on â€œMeeting Mr. Musselwhite.â€
Talking about mortality and stating, â€œI hope God grades on a curve,â€ RWH and band played the darker â€œStone Blind Horses.â€ The theme quickly turned around as a song he wrote with Cody Canada, â€œCooler-N-Hellâ€ lightened the mood. It segued into â€œCrazy Mama,â€ a crowd-sung song that Ray said was â€œMost righteous!â€
One of the ultimate singalong songs was his signature hit â€œ(Up Against The Wall) Redneck Motherâ€ to the ecstatic crowd. Ending at this point would have capped a remarkable evening, but were the band kept playing.
An audience-led chorus of â€œHappy Birthday To You!â€ preceded the great concert song â€œWanna Rock And Roll,â€ a hit for Cross Canadian Ragweed. It morphed into another big hit, â€œJohn The Revelator,â€ with its guitar solo and jam that kept the crowd at a fever pitch.
Ray finished the set with a story about his grandmother being a fortune-teller for carnivals that was the basis for â€œThe Messenger.â€ It’s poignant lyrics, and laid-back melody showed the depth and range of the skilled writer and singer.
Hubbard didn’t even make it completely off the stage before the crowd’s demand of an encore brought him back to the microphone. â€œChoctaw Bingoâ€ was a continuous story set to music that covered the gamut of rural life everywhere.
Another signature song and unofficial state anthem was the final number, â€œScrew You, We’re From Texas.â€ Lucas jammed on guitar and drummer Kyle Snyder laid down what Ray called â€œa groove beat you can hammer nails withâ€ to end the Birthday Bash.
Hubbard is an entertainer in the true Texas style. His songs always tell a story and can be either touching or light-hearted. He’s not above telling a few tall tales between songs, either.
After one of his shows, you feel like you’ve not only experienced part of his life but met many of the people who’ve been an influence on him. You also find that being a Texas Troubadour is more than being a musician, it’s a way of life.
Ray tours regularly and you can catch him as he’s currently scheduled to play until Christmas.
Thanks to Jeff, Karen, and Garrett at Kessler Theater as they always go above and beyond to help.
Joe Guzman of National Rock Review was on hand to capture the event.
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Event Date: 10-Nov-2016