Ray Wylie Hubbard Has The Ruffian’s Misfortune

Read about ‘The Ruffian’s Misfortune’ by Ray Wylie Hubbarb




Renowned Texas singer/songwriter and larger-than-life character Ray Wylie Hubbard returns with a ‘lean ’n’ mean’ follow-up to 2012’s The Grifter’s Hymnal.  As well, the album is soon to be followed by a colourful autobiography A Life … Well, Lived.

Co-produced by Hubbard and bassist George Reiff, The Ruffian’s Misfortune showcases Hubbard’s bluesy slide alongside the twin guitar leads of Gabe Rhodes and Hubbard’s son, Lucas.

After riding a decade-long career resurgence into the national spotlight with 2012’s acclaimed The Grifter’s Hymnal and his first ever appearance on the Late Show With David Letterman (“I didn’t want to peak too soon,” quips Hubbard, 68), the iconoclastic Texas songwriter is back to continue his hot streak with The Ruffian’s Misfortune due out April 7 2015 — his sixteenth album (and third on his own Bordello Records, via Thirty Tigers).

“I used to go see Lightnin’ Hopkins and Mance Lipscomb and Freddie King, all those cats, but I never could play like them — I guess because I never took the time or effort to try — until I was in my 40’s and learned how to finger pick,” says Hubbard.  “Once I learned how to finger pick, I started going, ‘Oh, OK, this is how they did all that!’  Then I started learning open tuning, and then slide, and it was just this incredible freedom that gave all these songs a door to come through that wasn’t there before.  It was like all of a sudden having this whole other language or a whole other set of tools to add to my arsenal.”

With ten new songs packed into just under 34 minutes, The Ruffian’s Misfortune is reportedly the tightest and most focused record of Hubbard’s career.  It will also be his first record to be pressed on vinyl in more than thirty years.

“I really liked The Grifter’s Hymnal, and I think The Ruffian’s Misfortune is still kind of a part of that,” he offers, noting that he likes the way both titles would look just as fitting on a dusty old book jacket — or perhaps at the start of a silent movie — as they do on an album cover.  But the similarities don’t end there. “This record is pretty much where I am as far as trying to make records that work on a couple of different levels, by laying down a groove with cool guitar tones and vicious nasty licks with lyrics that have a little depth and weight and even a little humour thrown in, too, as life is pretty much like that.”

Most of the tracks were nailed down live in two or three takes over the course of five days at the Zone studio in Dripping Springs, Texas, right up the road from the rustic Hill Country cabin Hubbard shares with his wife, manager, and record label president, Judy.  Hubbard’s gifted 21-year-old son, Lucas — who’s been holding his own on stage with the old man since his late teens — shared lead guitar duties on the album with Gabe Rhodes, swapping leads the whole way through.  “I really wanted to have that Ron Wood/Keith Richards two-guitar vibe, you know?” explains Ray Wylie, who of course played a fair amount of guitar himself: namely, all of the slide and acoustic stuff.  The bedrock is provided by bassist/co-producer George Reiff and drummer Rick Richards, whose “deep in the pocket,” just-behind-the-beat timing has been Hubbard’s not-so-secret weapon for years on both record and stage.  Hubbard raves that Reiff and Richards make for such a potent groove machine that he’s had to share them on more than one occasion with friend (and poacher) Joe Walsh: “He called me up and went, ‘I don’t want to steal your band … but I’m going to steal your Snake Farm band,’” Hubbard recounts with a laugh.  “Which of course is a high compliment to George and Rick.”

He’s certainly got more than enough colourful anecdotes to relate — and years of insight to match — to fill a book, which is something he finally got around to tackling after persistent prodding (and a bit of editing help) from friend and music writer Thom Jurek.  After spending the better part of the last two years sifting through his memories and hashing them out on the page, Hubbard’s autobiography is off to the printer and due out this spring or summer – A Life … Well, Lived.


Read about ‘The Ruffian’s Misfortune’ by Ray Wylie Hubbarb

Read about ‘The Ruffian’s Misfortune’ by Ray Wylie Hubbarb

Read about ‘The Ruffian’s Misfortune’ by Ray Wylie Hubbarb


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Author: Rob Dickens

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