Ray Wylie Hubbard

"I was into more the lifestyle of a wild visionary than actually learning the craft of it," explains Ray Wylie Hubbard. "I didn't do that until my 40s." The Okie songwriter got a huge break when Jerry Jeff Walker turned "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother" into the 1973 hit, but all Hubbard remembers is drinking beer and peeing a lot. Two decades ago, when he finally got sober and started working as hard as he was living, his creative fortunes turned.

Nine albums later, he's one of Texas' most celebrated songwriters, riding a streak of great albums nearly as long as Alejandro Escovedo's. His gruff country blues wit shows up on tracks like "Screw You, We're From Texas" while his hard-bitten wisdom is as direct as "Heartaches and Grease." His last album, 2010's A. Enlightenment B. Endarkenment (Hint: There is No C), chases salvation right into dissipation and dissolution, from the mescal-soaked "Drunken Poet's Dream" through the steadfast rebellion of "Loose" and spooky bluegrass closer "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse." It's possibly his finest work. The busy fellow's also hosted three Grit 'n Groove music fests, produced the first Band of Heathens album and is currently writing a TV pilot set in a country music bar.

—Chris Parker


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