Ray Wylie Hubbard was born in Oklahoma and grew up in Oak Cliff. Most famous for his song “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother,” which Jerry Jeff Walker recorded in 1974, Hubbard is a hardworking musician who is constantly on the road. A fan once told Hubbard he admired his “dedication to music,” and Hubbard told him, “I just never learned to do anything else.” Hubbard performed at the Kessler last month, and he spoke to us on the phone from his home in Wimberley.
How old were you when your family moved to Oak Cliff, and where did you live?
I was about 8 years old when we moved here, and we lived at Eighth and Adams. I went to fourth grade at John H. Reagan Elementary School. Then I went to Rosemont, Greiner and Adamson.
The ’60s garage band scene was big in Oak Cliff. Were you a part of that?
I was more into the folk scene. Michael Murphey was a senior when I was a sophomore at Adamson. And there was a fellow by the name of B.W. Stevenson. He was a freshman, I believe. Then of course Stevie Ray and Jimmie [Vaughan] went to Kimball, and they were more into the garage bands. We were more folk singers in our little world.
It sounds like Adamson was quite a creative force back then.
We didn’t have that great of a football team, but we had some really great assemblies. It was a good time. I have incredibly fond memories of growing up in Oak Cliff.
Do you still see Michael Martin Murphey or Jimmie Vaughan?
I see Michael, and I see Jimmie Vaughan every now and then. It was a great musical time there in Oak Cliff. Berry Music, that’s where everybody would hang out, at Jefferson and Tyler. It was a great little music store. I feel very fortunate that I grew up there. Going into high school, there was the greaser rock-n-roll of Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps and all that type of stuff, but by the time I graduated, the Beatles were there. So I went in wearing a pompadour and ducktails, and I left wearing a Beatle haircut.
Who were your musical influences at that time?
Bob Dylan and Michael Murphey, really, because he was the first person who came out in an assembly and said, “Here’s a song I wrote.” And I was like, “Whoa, he’s a songwriter!”
What was your first band, and where did you play?
El Fenix on Colorado is where we played our first gig. We played for the Greiner eighth-grade Pan American banquet. We weren’t very good, so we broke up during the second song.
Did you really?
We ate sherbet right before we sang, and it was very cold. I remember being very cold. It was a rough gig, but no, we made it through.
What was the name of the band?
The Coachmen. It was a folk group with Rick Fowler and Wayne Kidd. We were all from Oak Cliff. Jimmie Vaughan was in a band called the Chessmen. So the Oak Cliff Tribune would say, “The Chessmen are playing at Kidd Springs,” or wherever, and they would show our picture. They got us confused all the time.
How long were the Coachmen together?
We were together for junior and senior year of high school. Then we became Three Faces West, and we would play Oklahoma, Dallas, Austin, Colorado. All over, really. And we were together for six or seven years as Three Faces West.
What was it like growing up in Oak Cliff?
It was very different back then. In the fifth-, sixth- and seventh-grade, you could get on the bus to downtown Dallas and go to the library. It wasn’t turbulent. It got turbulent in the late ’60s … it was a changing time. But as a kid, it was a very pleasant experience.
Did you say you went to the library?
Yeah, I spent a lot of time at the Oak Cliff library, too. My dad was principal of Martin Weiss Elementary School, and he taught at Rosemont, too. He was an English teacher. So I used to read all the classics, Dickens, Hawthorne. I really enjoyed that.
So you weren’t a troublemaker?
No, I didn’t do that ’til later.
Have you always had a hometown following?
Dallas has always been good to me. There were a lot of folk clubs, and then the outlaw country thing hit, and I’ve always been able to find a gig in Dallas. And now, the Kessler? How great is that? It’s six blocks from where I grew up. I really recommend the Kessler to my musician friends. It’s a vibrant, beautiful place to play. I just really enjoy that gig.
Do you remember the Kessler as a movie theater?
I think I saw “Old Yeller” there when I was 10 or 11. I used to ride my bike down there and go to the movies. You know, you didn’t even have to put a lock on your bicycle.
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