Think Austin legend Guy Clark married to “Dimples”-era John Lee Hooker. Also think in terms of the first hit that he penned for Jerry Jeff Walker back in his early ‘70s heyday, “Up against the Wall, Redneck Mother,” and his current role as something of the grand sage of Texas Americana.
“I like to look at both enlightenment and ‘endarkenment.’ I feel comfortable observing each,” he has said of his outlook, which fuels his astute lyrics and gets propelled into song by his rock-solid guitar-playing. “I really feel like I gave up the right to judge anybody a long time ago. With my behavior back in my 20s and 30s, I don’t have that right. I really don’t.”
Hubbard has been recording albums since 1971. When he made a movie based on his 2006 album Snake Farm, he got the likes of Dwight Yoakum and Kris Kristofferson, friends and fans, to appear in it. When he tours, stars from all genres of music come out to hear his straightforward songs, which are deeply observational and almost novelistic in their effects yet fun and memorable as well. No wonder that he’s playing Saturday night at Levon’s place: He’s their kind of people.
“There’s this line I’d heard my grandmother say when I was a kid: ‘Heaven pours down rain and lightning bolts.’ That line kind of sums it all up for me as far as everything, really: Heaven is this beautiful place, and yet it pours down rain and lightning bolts on both the just and the unjust. So, being mindful of this, I was reminded of one of my wife Judy’s spiritualisms: ‘The days I can keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, those are good days,’” he noted wryly in an interview granted before the release of his latest album, A. Enlightenment, B. Endarkenment (Hint: There Is No C). “When it’s all said and done and the record is released, whether I ride through the streets in a chariot with rose petals falling upon me and thousands cheering my name or I find myself standing against a wall being asked if I want a cigarette and a blindfold, I am extremely grateful for each of these songs. And if the truth be known, after every song I write I always say ‘Thanks.’”
Is anyone reminded of that character that Jeff Bridges was awarded for playing? Now conjure old Bad Blake without the sentimentality and sappy ballads, with a gruffer, more hit-the-spot voice and sensibility. Think Ray Wylie Hubbard.
For information on the Saturday, July 30 reservations-only (and standing-room-only) Rambles concert at Levon Helm’s, visit www.levonhelm.com/midnight_ramble. For information on the Sunday, July 31 show at the Bearsville Theater, located on Tinker Street/Route 212 on the west side of Woodstock, call (845) 679-4406 or visit www.bearsvilletheater.com. Tickets for the Bearsville gig are $25 general admission, and available online or at the show. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the concert begins at 8 o’clock.