Ray Wylie Hubbard
As a general rule, Ray Wylie Hubbard doesn’t really cater to nostalgia. Although he’s been credited (or blamed, as he’s prone to put it dryly) for penning one of the defining anthems of the entire 1970s progressive country movement, the Oklahoma-born, Texas-reared living legend has spent the last quarter century in constant pursuit of new artistic vistas and challenges, reinventing and redefining his musical identity every step of the way. Always a generous performer, he’ll still serve up that “obligatory encore” (all together now: “And it’s up against the wall, REDNECK MOTHER!”) with characteristic good humor, but he certainly hasn’t earned his laurels as one of the most respected artists in modern Americana — not to mention in the storied pantheon of Texas poet troubadours — by living in the past.
Over the course of a dozen acclaimed albums going back to his early ’90s comeback, he has distinguished himself time and again as both a songwriter’s songwriter par excellence and as one of the gnarliest, grittiest Texas groovers this side of Lightnin’ Hopkins. Case in point: This year’s The Ruffian’s Misfortune, a record praised by American Songwriter as “a lean, mean set that wraps up in just over a half hour but whose raw reverberations last long after.”