Nothing brings people together like live music. If you need proof, look no further than the gathering at The Shed in Maryville, Tennessee, on May 22. A motley crew gathered to see Ray Wylie Hubbard do his thing.
Ray Wylie Hubbard has been bringing his blend of country, rock, and blues to the masses for decades. During that time, he has gathered an eclectic following. In short, he’s a national treasure. The emcee at the venue introduced him as the greatest American troubadour. I think that might be the most fitting description that you could hang on the veteran musician.
Before we get into Hubbard’s performance, though, we’re going to start where the show started.
Dallas Moore Poured the Gas
If you’ve been to a live show, you know how opening acts usually go. They’re the soundtrack to your trip to the bar and your long wait for the main event. Dallas Moore, on the other hand, was much more than that. He stepped onto the stage alone. It was just him and his six string. He proceeded to beat the hell out of that guitar for about 45 minutes. It was, without a doubt, the shortest 45 minutes I’ve ever witnessed.
While we were there to see Ray Wylie Hubbard, many of us left the venue as fans of Dallas Moore. He played a few of his older songs and a selection of tunes from his latest release, The Rain. The original that really got the crowd’s attention was “Locked Down and Loaded.” The quarantine-inspired tune resonated deeply with everyone in attendance. Check out the tune below:
Dallas Moore’s songwriting is spectacular. The only thing more impressive was his flat-picking. The guy might play acoustic outlaw country but when he breaks off into a solo, it sounds like he was raised on bluegrass. Moore plays blindingly fast solos that would put most folks at your local bluegrass jam to shame.
To me, though, the highlight of his set was his cover of Billy Joe Shaver’s “Live Forever.” Not only did he nail the song, but he also called for applause for Billy Joe. The tribute to the original Honky Tonk Hero hit me right in my heart.
If you get the chance to see this ol’ boy, don’t miss it.
Ray Wylie Hubbard Burned the Place Down
Ray Wylie Hubbard opened the show with “Rabbit,” with no real preamble. Then, he took us to the “Snake Farm.” It was clear that he had the entire audience in the palm of his hand. The ol’ Wylie Lama knows how to work a crowd.
Over the course of his set, Ray Wylie Hubbard played everybody’s favorites. The crowd danced to “Snake Farm.” When he played “Tell the Devil I’m Getting There as Fast as I Can,” lighters and phone screens were in the air. Then, “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother,” turned into a singalong.
It was at that moment that you could really see the togetherness that Hubbard fostered at this show. There we were, a bunch of people who may have never been in the same place for any other reason, singing in unison. It was also at that moment that many people in attendance realized just how much they had missed live music.
Ray Wylie Hubbard brought us all together. For a couple of hours, we were all one big dysfunctional family. He introduced us all to his son, Lucas, who plays lead guitar in the band. For a moment, he wasn’t an iconic cult figure. He was a proud father, bragging on his son and talking about how grateful he was to share the stage with his boy.
As for those in attendance, we laughed, sang, and drank together. As one. We forgot all of our problems and differences. The world melted away.
Nothing brings people together like live music. Few can cast a wider net that Ray Wylie Hubbard.