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If you love classic and contemporary Texas folk and country, you’re in for a double treat this week with both Ray Wylie Hubbard and Robert Earl Keen at local clubs.
Hubbard, who hasn’t been here in several years, plays Juanita’s Cantina Ballroom on Thursday. Keen, who visited last year, is back in Little Rock, this time at the new Revolution Room next to Rumba Restaurant at 300 President Clinton Ave. on Friday, Aug. 25. That big show also includes country rockers Reckless Kelly, and tickets are $25.
Tickets for Hubbard’s 9 p.m. show are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Hubbard will also play Fayetteville’s Dickson Theater on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Hubbard, who along with Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings helped found the Texas outlaw country movement, recently released the album “Snake Farm.” He’s just returned to the states after playing London, Edinburgh and Glasgow with Van Morrison and others.
How’s he doing? “Better than I deserve,” he answered from his Texas home before the trip to Great Britain. “I’m really excited about the record coming out. I worked with Gurf Morlix on it and I’m really happy about that.”
Hubbard may be best known among the bar crowd as the songwriter of “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother,” but others in his catalog have been recorded by many of the big names in music. He’s also been cited as an inspiration by nearly every Texan, and many others, who ever picked up a guitar.
The new song “Snake Farm,” he said, is typical of how he might find the inspiration for a song.
“You never know. I just have to kind of be conscious of what’s going to trigger it,” he said. “I went by this snake farm, and ughh, it sounded nasty and I wrote that in 30 minutes. Some of them take a little longer and some of them answer the phone.
“The real key is I keep trying to learn new things, and that usually triggers a song.”
Hubbard’s pursuits, he says, include learning to play bottleneck guitar, which he picked up eight years ago. “I try to play with musicians who are better than me, and sometimes I drag them down to my level.”
Morlix, producer on “Snake Farm,” played with Lucinda Williams for eight years. “He’s a sweet ol’ record producer,” Hubbard said. Hubbard’s 13-year-old son, Lucas, plays lead guitar, though school’s starting now and he won’t be with the band playing Thursday. “I taught him a little bit,” Hubbard said, crediting Cody Canada, Seth Gaines and Morlix as others who gave the youngster some pointers.
Morlix says Hubbard’s “Snake Farm” is the songwriter’s best work to date. Hubbard said he appreciated the thought. “I feel really good about it. I’m pretty happy when they rhyme. It was an opportunity for us to get back into roots rock, and it’s gnarly. I’m really happy with it.”
Yes, he’ll probably work in a rendition of “Redneck Mother” in a set that he’ll wing, he said, with some newer work mixed in. “It’s a good hole card to have,” Hubbard said of the famed song. “People don’t necessarily yell out requests at my shows, but I do it. It’s one of those songs that refuses to die.”
Hubbard says he’s got another half an album already written that will probably be released next year. “I think we’ll go back and record in November. I’ve got about six done and about four more that I need to finish.”