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Truths colored with an overriding
attitude of joy and gratitude

Mary Gauthier / Ray Wylie Hubbard
City Winery Chicago
Chicago, IL
August 21, 2013
Mary Gauthier
Mary Gauthier
Mary Gauthier
Mary Gauthier
Ray Wylie Hubbard
Ray Wylie Hubbard

Review and photos by Jennifer Bronenkant

Mary Gauthier and Ray Wylie Hubbard teamed up on a few Midwest dates this month including a stop at City Winery Chicago. Although on the surface they are quite different, she writes deeply personal songs often dealing with very painful and sometimes taboo subjects and he is best known for his bar sing-a-long favorite "Up Against The Wall Red Neck Mother" and other funky and fun to sing along songs in the tradition of the best of Texas country blues based music. These two troubadours share a soulful connection in how they accept all that this life brings and outlook they choose to take. They share wild beginnings with a change to sobriety that ushered late blooming musical accomplishment. For both artists, their music often revolves around themes of the seedier side of life, the struggles of outsiders and the power of redemption.

Hubbard (67) started working in music at a young age and was a integral part of the outlaw music scene coming out of Texas in the 1970's. However, his star failed to rise to the national prominence that fellow Texans like Willie Nelson enjoyed. He went on to spend the 70's and 80's playing honky tonks around Texas and recording only occasionally. With encouragement from Stevie Ray Vaughn, Hubbard he sobered up and his life started shifting. While still mostly known in the Southwest, his new work was garnering critical acclaim and new fans. In Texas he is legendary and thanks to increased exposure through satellite radio and even an appearance on Letterman earlier this year, he is winning more fans throughout the country. This notoriety is enabling him to do more national touring like this appearance in Chicago.

A good part of the audience on this double billed show were already familiar with Hubbard enough to sing along with two of his most sing-alongable songs: the aforementioned "Red Neck Mother" and his funky 2006 number "Snake Farm." Although a good portion of said audience singers may need to invest in a metronome and tuning pipe at Hubbard's suggestion. "You know who you are," he chided the out of tune and out of time in the audience.

Hubbard is a veteran performer who knows how to quickly win over an audience with charm and humor but he may be less experienced in the long distance touring business. He has been known to ask fans on social media to loan him amps and other gear for shows he is flying to. The fans usually come through, more than happy to help out a fellow musician. For this small tour Hubbard figured out how to fly to a show without borrowing equipment. He and his son Lucas brought only one guitar each, he brought a couple of small amps and his drummer Kyle Schneider brought only a snare and cymbals and used the pelican case that carried one of the amps as a kick drum. Funky but it worked.

His one hour set included songs from the range of his long career along with a couple of numbers from his latest release "The Grifter's Hymnal," a rocking blues lp that may be the best of his career. The intimate room at this venue was perfect for Hubbard's unique Texan mix of story telling, humor and music.

Gauthier (50), a New Orleans native, got a late start to music also. Beginning as a teenage runaway, going on to culinary school and running her own successful Cajun restaurant in Boston, serious music didn't start until she sobered up after a D.U.I. conviction at 35 years old. Since then she has released six lps and garnered serious critical acclaim. She released her first live album this year "Live At Blue Rock" after she felt she had finally experienced enough live performances to be good at it.

It turns out that she is good at it. Although her songs often deal with depressing subjects like alcoholism and feeling an outsider, Gauthier approaches an audience with a warm smile on her face. In between songs she tells stories and background about the songs. She acknowledges that she usually writes when she is miserable and seems to revel in the misery of the songs so in the end, instead of maudlin her live performance is a joyful experience.

The show was greatly enhanced by Winnipeg based backing musicians Joanna Miller on the drums and Scott Nolan on guitar and piano. Gauthier and Nolan's combined guitar playing was at times hauntingly beautiful and at other times muscular and electrifying.

Gauthier covered most of her best known songs including "Your Sister Cried," "I Drink" and "Mercy Now." Gauthier connects deeply with her audience as she relays the universal feelings of struggling as an outsider and the need for mercy in one's life.

These two troubadours brought the crowd on a journey through their truths colored with an overriding attitude of joy and gratitude.


Set lists:
Ray Wylie Hubbard Set:

Rabbit
Snake Farm
Drunken Poet's Dream
Down Home Country Blues
Train Yard
Name Droppin'
Count My Blessings
Mother Blues
Up Against The Wall Red Neck Mother
Wanna Rock And Roll
The Messenger
RMary Gauthier Set:

Your Sister Cried
I Drink
Last Of The Hobo Kings
Cigarette Machine
Love And Trouble
Can't Find The Way
Another Train
Karla Faye
Wheel Inside The Wheel
Mercy Now
Mary Gauthier
Mary Gauthier
Mary Gauthier
Mary Gauthier
Ray Wylie Hubbard
Ray Wylie Hubbard
Ray Wylie Hubbard
Ray Wylie Hubbard
Ray Wylie Hubbard
Ray Wylie Hubbard
Mary Gauthier
Mary Gauthier
Ray Wylie Hubbard
Ray Wylie Hubbard
Mary Gauthier
Mary Gauthier
Ray Wylie Hubbard
Ray Wylie Hubbard

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