RAY WYLIE HUBBARD
For longer than you’ve been alive, original country punk Ray Wylie Hubbard has been singing about a poor West Virginia redneck who’s “not responsible for what he’s doing, because his mother made him what he is.” Hubbard’s “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother” may be a great barroom sing-along, but it isn’t necessarily one of his greatest songs. The 65-year-old troubadour is a storyteller of deep and wide-ranging talent who’s inspired a legion of younger fellow Texans like Hayes Carll and Ryan Bingham. Hubbard brings a grizzled wit and allegorical grandeur to the unmanageable lives of miscreants, addicts, gamblers and poets. For instance, in “Drunken Poet’s Dream,” he telescopes a lifetime of daily debauchery in a single line: “Whiskey bottles are scattered like last night’s clothes; cigarettes, papers and Oreos.” His latest, The Grifter’s Hymnal, finds one protagonist wondering how he wound up on “New Year’s Eve at the Gates of Hell.” Hubbard’s “Redneck Mothers” may not be his greatest, but there isn’t much more in life I’d like to see than this scruffy Texas outlaw, in a Charlotte bar, metaphorically throwing a bunch of greasy Tea Party “patriots” up against a wall.