Ray Wylie Hubbard, revisited

Back in January 2006, I was skiing with Caroline and Megan (I only had one Megan in my life at that time) at Stevens Pass. I decided to cut across a bend on the easy groomed trail we were on, and found myself in deep powder. Being the lousy intermediate skier that I am, I buried my right tip in the snow and snagged an unseen rock or branch that was lurking beneath the snow. My ski stopped suddenly, and I was launched forward into a face-plant. By the time my lovely daughters quit laughing at me, I realized that something was very wrong. I had broken my ankle.

24 hours after my ski patrol toboggan ride down the mountain, I was at home with my foot in a cast, watching TV, and wondering what I was going to do for the next 6-8 weeks of no load bearing on that foot. I discovered the Sopranos on HBO and binge-watched (before binge-watching was fashionable) the first two seasons in just a few days. Then I managed to rent another season from the local (now long gone) video store. What next? I read a book or two, and then decided enough was enough. I was going to go on a road trip.

A good friend of mine was dying in Jackson, MS, and I wanted to see him before he shed his mortal coil. I had acquaintances in New Orleans, and I figured that while was in the area, I do some disaster tourism five months after Katrina. And on the way there, I could easily plan my route to go through Austin, TX and see some of my favorite musicians. I checked out the schedules of a few of them and saw that RWH was playing at the Old Quarter Cafe in Galveston in the time frame that I’d be in the area.

After a week or so of cross-country driving, I was in Austin. I saw Ruthie Foster and Eliza Gilkyson, among others, and then went to Galveston. I found the venue, but it wasn’t open yet. I hung around until Wrecks Ball (look him up, he’s an old friend of Townes Van Zandt) showed up and opened up the place. He told me the show was sold out, but I played the injured-fan-from-Seattle card. He relented and let me in. The Old Quarter was a pretty small venue at the time, so I managed to get up close and personal to RWH, and chatted with him between sets. He even autographed one of my crutches.

I carried on with my trip to New Orleans. It was shocking. At that time, there were still appliances and furniture from gutted houses on the streets and lots filled with flooded cars. (I have pictures from that trip somewhere, but I couldn’t find them) Then it was on to Jackson, where I spent a couple of days with my old friend Mark. (He died a month later).

A month later, I was back home again, and finally got rid of the cast. Life went back to normal, or as normal as it ever gets for me.

Fast-forward 10+ years. RWH played at the Tractor last night, and even though he was showing his age, his voice was great, and he put on a fabulous show. He played a lot of old stuff, some new stuff, and kept us well-entertained with his between-song chatter. He closed the show with one of my favorites, The Messenger.

And true groupie that I am, I approached him after the show, and got a photo with him.


Life is good.

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