There are times when the stars align and an iconic musician plays at an iconic venue. That was the case last Friday night when musical legend, Ray Wylie Hubbard played the equally iconic Cain’s Ballroom. A diverse crowd attended the show, with twenty-somethings perching on bleachers and couples in their twilight years crowding around tables set-up on the dance floor.
Opening the show was Travis Linville. If you’re not familiar with Travis Linville, you should be. He’s a talented musician who is a staple in the Oklahoma music scene, having produced albums for John Fullbright and Carter Sampson, as well as giving guitar lessons in years past to Parker Millsap. When he’s not producing or singing, you often find him playing guitar with Hayes Carll, something he’s been doing off and on for the past decade. Linville’s set included the songs, “Up Ahead”, “Bar Room”, “Out on a Wire”, “Rising Sun” a cover of “Black Flag Blues” and the song with the most interesting story of the night was, “Shoulder to the Wheel”. Linville told the story of auditioning for the movie Rudderless, which was filmed in Oklahoma and directed by William H. Macy. He played a musician in the film and his second interview involved auditioning in front of Macy, in which he played the tune, “Shoulder to the Wheel”. Minus the cover of “Black Flag Blues”, Linville’s set came from two of his albums, Out on a Wire and his latest album, released in 2017, Up Ahead. Travis Linville comes off as likeable with personal anecdotes about his songs and his talent is obvious as he alternates between playing harmonica and slide guitar.
Travis Linville has two more solo dates of the year, both in Oklahoma, so if you want to catch him at a later date, keep checking his tour dates here: http://www.travislinvillemusic.com/tour/
After one of the briefest intermissions I’ve experienced to date, Ray Wylie Hubbard took the stage. The fans that had gathered at the stage for Travis Linville’s set, pushed even closer to the stage, filling in gaps and hoping to be as close as possible to catch a legend in action. With a practiced eye taking in the crowd, Ray Wylie Hubbard opened the set with the song, “Rabbit” and flowing seamlessly into one of his best known songs, “Snake Farm”, which inspired an enthusiastic sing-a-long from the crowd. Other songs in the set included “Drunken Poets Dream” a co-write with Hayes Carll, “Down Home Country Blues”, “Train Yard” and “Name Droppin”. Introducing the song, “Mississippi Flush”, Hubbard reflected on the fact he was inspired to write the song from his time as a preteen in southeastern Oklahoma, shuttling his father around after a night spent gambling and drinking. It’s the personal stories that musicians tell that are often my favorite parts of concerts, and until that moment, I had no idea Ray Wylie Hubbard had even been born or had lived in Oklahoma. One of my favorite moments of the evening was Hubbard calling himself an “acquired taste” and that the “following song should weed out any that aren’t really fans” before launching into the song, “Mother Blues” and the lyrics “when I was a young man, about 21 years old y’all, all I wanted was a stripper girlfriend and a gold top Les Paul”. Watching the crowd react to each new song was a treat in itself, as some stood with beers raised in the air, while others would grab their significant other or best friend and head out to the dance floor. If you’re like me and for some reason haven’t attended a Ray Wylie Hubbard show, do yourself a favor and buy a ticket. He’s always got a stellar opening act and the combination of his storytelling and musicianship are more than worth the ticket cost.
Catch Ray Wylie Hubbard on tour through the end of December, you can find his tour dates here: https://raywylie.com/tour/