REGATTA: Hubbard flies in from Texas for Regatta show
WORTHINGTON — Accomplished singer, songwriter and all-around musical talent Ray Wylie Hubbard will bring his acclaimed Americana style to the Unvarnished Music Festival stage Wednesday night. Although his work may not be as well known in Worthington, Hubbard has amassed an enormous following in his homeland of Texas and across the nation over his decades-long career.
“I was in Alaska, Florida and New York recently,” said Hubbard in a phone interview. “There are certain areas I do real well in — areas that have an Americana audience. I am an acquired taste.”
Beyond a country-wide touring schedule, Hubbard and his backup band — which consists of a drummer and two guitars (with his son, Lucas, on lead guitar) — received definitive nationwide exposure in January of last year. It turns out that David Letterman was a fan of Hubbard’s and invited him to perform on “The Late Show.” The performance was a resounding success, but is merely the latest highlight of a long and fruitful career.
Hubbard was born in Soper, Okla., but spent the majority of his formative years in Dallas, Texas.
“I was one of these Texas songwriters that started off as a folk singer, running around in the old days. I have been writing since the ’70s,” explained Hubbard. Eventually, Hubbard became immersed in the Austin, Texas, music scene.
“I feel fortunate to have seen Freddie King and Michael Martin Murphy play,” he said of his musical influences and inspirations. “Guy Clark is also important to me.”
Songwriting has always been something that Hubbard loves and holds as central to his musical expression.
“It (folk music) was a good place to start where I felt comfortable, writing lyrics that felt important to me, while also having a groove,” he explained. “I like to write lyrics that are more than ‘I woke up this morning and had the blues.’”
From an outside perspective, it may be easy to envision Hubbard as a standard country star, but he is anything but.
“I never considered myself country. In my early 40s, I got into finger picking and got into the styles of Fred McDowell,” said Hubbard.
The current musical style Hubbard and one or two of his bandmates will exhibit at the Unvarnished Music Festival is a little less mainstream.
“Right now, more than anything else, I would describe my musical style as Americana — it is more roots rock and folk blues,” he described.
Included in his music are the guitar, harmonica, slide resonator and mandolin. Hubbard said he will even “throw in electric stuff, as long as it has a cool tone.”
Come Regatta time, Hubbard plans to give Worthington a broad sampling of his music, with special attention given to his 2012 album “The Grifter’s Hymnal.”
“We probably will be playing everything,” he said. “My audience is made up of everyone from people my age to young kids who take the time to track down non-mainstream music.”
Famed Beatle Ringo Starr was invited by Hubbard to sing and play his song “Coochy Coochy” for “The Grifter’s Hymnal” as the only cover song in the album. Ringo did contribute to the cover and, as it turned out, had also been a big Hubbard fan since his 2006 album, “Snake Farm.”
Hubbard is grateful for his career and prepared to bring his soulful lyrics and rollicking, creative tunes to windy southwest Minnesota.
“I feel very fortunate, playing alternative music. Have people come on out, and we’ll have a good time,” he said.
For more information on Hubbard’s music, go to www.raywylie.com.