Ray Wylie Hubbard – Grit & Groove Festival – 2013

Starting your own music festival isn’t an easy task, just ask Willie Nelson. It took him over a decade before his July 4th Picnic’s became anything more than an unorganized mess. Ray Wylie Hubbard has performed at practically every one of Willie’s picnics so he knows a thing or two about this sort of event. “I’ve always wanted to do a festival with people I really respect,” explained Ray, calling from his house in Wimberley. “People I admire and like to hang out with. So we put together the first one in Luckenbach and basically invited all of my friends. I’m very fortunate that I’m friends with all of these people and also love their music. After the first went so well, we just continued on with that vibe. Once we got Joe Walsh to play at one, we had to move it to Whitewater Amphitheater to handle the bigger crowds.”

Hubbard is easily one of the most humble artists in the business despite his icon status among fellow musicians. His body of work can easily hold its own when compared with such legendary songwriters as Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark or even Bob Dylan. The thing that sets him apart from the others is his unique sense of humor. One listen to ‘Mother Blues’ on his latest CD ‘Grifter’s Hymnal’ and you will understand exactly what I mean. The fact that he has such stars as Joe Walsh and Ringo Starr as friends doesn’t seem to faze him at all. “Every now and then I’ll get a little star struck,” admits Ray, “but then I realize they are just normal people that happen to be famous.” He and Walsh are so close that Ray’s band are currently on tour with Joe. “He called me up last year,” recalls Hubbard, “and said, ‘I don’t want to steal your band, but I want to steal your band. My guys are friends of mine so I didn’t want to stand in the way of them getting to play with Joe.” This is the reason Ray is so respected among his peers, he’s a friend first and band leader second.

He hand picks the bands that perform at his ‘Grit & Groove’ Festival. “I call them myself and see if they want to play. If they do, then we contact their agents and work out the details. I really like the lineup this year; I have a lot of respect for them as artists. Especially as songwriters, they all have a really solid fan base.” We both agreed that they all have a career in the music business for as long as they want. The artists scheduled to perform include Hayes Carll, Ben Kweller, Dirty River Boys, Wheeler Brothers, Uncle Lucius, The Trisha’s, Dustin Welch and Sons of Fathers. Each group or solo artist is at the top of their game, so this year’s festival will be a fantastic taste of the best on the Texas music scene.

Hubbard is a lover of old school music and can talk at length about all of his favorite albums. “When we got ready to record ‘Grifter’s Hymnal,’ I told the band, I want to make an album, not just a collection of songs. I want it to sound like the first Buffalo Springfield album or the first Black Crowes or the first album by the Byrds. Those first albums were great; those guys went in the studio and played. We recorded it at the Edythe Bates Old Chapel in Round Top and we all just plugged directly into the amps and didn’t use any pedals or effects. Even though we used Pro Tools, we didn’t embellish anything. I think it came across sonically just like we planned. You may not like the songs but you have to admit it sounds really good.”

The festival starts at 2pm on Saturday at Whitewater Amphitheater and tickets are available online at whitewaterrocks.com for $27.70 plus a service charge. For more info about Ray Wylie Hubbard, see his website at raywylie.com.

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