As boring as we are, it takes something special to get us out of the house late on a friday night. This friday, we traveled up to The Blue Door to see Ray Wylie Hubbard with special guest Terry "Buffalo" Ware. Terry, as it turns out, is my guitar/mando teacher, so this was extra fun for us. (This picture is from a previous Blue Door concert, but you can see Buffalo Ware in the background.)
Live music is one of those really interesting things. When it is ok, it is just that. During the opening act (Gurf Morlix) it was really better than ok. He was great and made this little Martin 000 come alive in this small venue. He had some interesting songs (a really funny one about Madilyn Murray O'Hare) and did a great cover of Dylan's "With God on our Side."
But when Ray came out, the experience jumped from ok to magic. I don't even know the name of his first song, but it rocked. Long fingernails and shaggy gray hair under a bandanna, Hubbard played a lot of slide blues with funny and insightful songs. He played one (I think he called it Rock and Roll) and man did it ever. Must have lasted a good ten minutes and left us breathless. His encore went from a blues song right into Guthrie's "This land is your land." Amazing.
Live music also means people, and you all know what I think about people. Directly in front of us sat a woman we dubbed (on the ride home) Barbie, but this Barbie had been out of the pom squad for a good 25 years. She still acted like the 19 year old tease, but it didn't quite work. At least for me. I grew quite annoyed with her. And in the reserved section were quite a few annoying people who talked loudly. Given the clinking sounds, we assumed there was some heavy drinking going on. But all in all, it was a good crowd.
We have seen a few live acts in the last few years. I don't recall one funnier than Ray Wylie. Impecable timing and just damn funny stories. He said that growing up in Southeastern Oklahoma, one of his grandfathers was a bootlegger. He smuggled books into Arkansas. (Thought CIL would like that one)
For a few songs, he pulled out this beautiful Martin guitar with a lot of electronics in it. He said he was often asked why he would ruin a Martin like this, but in fact, it had come from the factory like that in the early 60s. His grandfather had it and would never let Ray play it. Not even when Ray started writing songs and performing.
Finally, he was performing away from Oklahoma and heard that his grandfather was failing. He drove all night to be there. His grandmother said, "Ray, he has been asking for you, talking about this old guitar."
He paused, and you could feel that we were all in this story. He had us.
"So he sold it to me."
A good night. As Old Lodgeskins said at the end of Little Big Man, "Sometimes the magic works, and sometimes it doesn't."
Tonight the magic worked.