Poet. Trickster. Songwriter. Ray Wylie Hubbard has twisted the mystic, the quixotic and the profane into songs for more than half a century on a journey that has crossed paths with the most acclaimed and quirky artists of our time. With a love of life, characters and a certain funky beat, the Oklahoma-born, Texas-dwelling creative saw unprecedented success of Jerry Jeff Walker-recorded “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother,” a legion of misfit fans and his first ever Austin City Limits televised performance. Reflecting on the embrace of 2020’s CO-STARRING – the all-star project that included Don Was, Joe Walsh, Ringo Starr, Ronnie Dunn, Peter Rowan, Larkin Poe and Aaron Lee Tasjan, among others – Hubbard returns with another bar-setting album. Pre-order CO-STARRING TOO ahead of the March 18 release.
“As a man of many friends,” Hubbard says laughing, “there were so very many people I just couldn’t get on the one project. So many people I wanted to do things with, but I just couldn’t. It stuck with me, and the more I thought about it, the more I thought, ‘Why not make Co-Starring Too? Beyond the pun, it’s something I thought we could do, and do with the same kind of quality.”
While the Texas Heritage Songwriters’ Hall of Famer has a signature jovial delivery, his talent and rolodex are far more serious. For his second rave-up with friends and family, the lineup boasts Rock & Roll, Country Music and Musicians Hall of Famers; Texas icons, Americana legends and upstarts making their mark, who all recognize the power of Hubbard’s cosmic snakedance. He pulled in Willie Nelson on “Stone Blind Horses” and Steve Earle on “Hellbent Horses” while creating collaborations that spoke to places and moments in American music: Red Dirt confab Wade Bowen, Randy Rogers and Cross Canadian Ragweed founder Cody Canada on “Till My Wheels Fall Off;” next wave Texas songwriters Hayes Carll, James McMurtry and Dalton Domino on “Fancy Boys;” and legendary musicos Charlie Sexton, Gurf Morlix, Jaimee Harris and Wynonna Judd on “Pretty Reckless.” Hardcore rockers Lzzy Hale and John5 tackle“Naturally Wild” next to firebrand roots writer Eliza Gilkyson and son Lucas Hubbard alongside Ringo Starr, Steve Lukather (Toto) and Ann Wilson (Heart) on “Ride or Die.”
“When you’re lucky enough to have this kind of collaborative power, you’d be a fool to not tap in,” he continues. “And when you’ve got Scott Borchetta and the Big Machine behind you, saying, ‘Whoever you’d like… What do you want to do…’? Well, I’d be a fool to not make another one of these records. They’re too fun, and because of the pandemic, it lets a lot of people stay creative when it’s hard to get out on the road.”
And true to his roadhouse roots, the man who gave the world “Snake Farm,” and “Drunken Poet’s Dream” has pulled in great bands, too. Beyond The Bluebonnets featuring Go-Go Kathy Valentine on “Only A Fool,” Kevin Russell and the Shiny Soul Sisters contribute “Groove,” The Last Bandoleros join in on “Texas Wild Side” and Band of Heathens team up for a raucous take on the Eric Church co-write “Desperate Man.”
“It’s that funky sexy cool thing, I’m chasing,” Hubbard says. “But also that groovy, gritty place where life gets real, mistakes get made and sometimes souls get saved. If we can do that, have some fun with music people that I dig, then we’ve done it. And I think we have.”