story by Anna VanHorn, special to The City Wire
There is country music, and then there’s Texas country music.
Steeped in traditions, Texas country features a soundtrack blending traditional roots music, Delta blues, vintage country and gospel. The music is tough and alive, supported by a lyrical backbone telling real-life stories of trying times and hard-won battles. Often peppered with wit, experience and a take-it-or-leave-it attitude, the tales told by Texas music blends seamlessly with the straightforward, no frills musical style.
Hubbard is that rare cowboy hippie hybrid, spouting a liberal attitude drenched in southern tradition. An exceptional lyricist, his keen gift for observation is enviable, and when combined with his grizzled Blues-Rock delivery, is unparalleled.
Hubbard’s foray into music began with his 1971 album, “Three Faces West,” and while not ever reaching what would be considered commercial success, he has enjoyed a long and storied career supported by loyal fans and music purists. His most well-known composition is probably the 1971 hit, made famous by Jerry Jeff Walker, “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother,” and while certainly notable, it is in no way his most defining work.
Touring almost continually since entering the music business, Hubbard has shared stages with countless legends while continuing to influence and work alongside the newest breed of Texas musicians. His curiously named 2010 album “A. Enlightenment B. Endarkenment “(Hint: There is no c), enjoyed critical acclaim while paving the way for his next album, which Hubbard is mixing.
The new release to be titled “The Grifter’s Hymnal” features a supergroup of musicians including Rick Richards, George Reiff, Aduley Freed, Billy Cassis, Lucas Hubbard, Ian McLagann, Brad Rice and Ringo Starr.
Touring in anticipation of the new release, Hubbard’s live shows promise to be every bit as impressive as his recorded works. This gritty Texas troubadour has a voice seasoned with what seems to be whisky and gasoline. The music is filled with lowdown blues riffs and greasy slide guitar licks, punctuated by lyrics of both a spiritual and sexual nature.
His ability to transition without irony from a carnal love song into a song of salvation is uncanny. His is the poetry of poverty and possibility, filled with stories of hard livin’, drinkin’ and lovin’. His forthright delivery and brilliant musicality combine to form an intimate connection with his audience, resulting in an experience that should not be missed.
Hubbard is a shinning example of the Texas country/roots music movement. He continues to grow, influence and evolve, while staying true to the traditions he helped develop. His shows in Fort Smith and Fayetteville should be no exception.