Some folks may know Ray Wylie Hubbard as the guy who wrote the progressive country anthem, “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother”. But in the Americana music scene he is known as the “Wylie Lama”. Hubbard kicks off the first in a series of Keep Austin Weird flashback articles. Real people tell real stories about a time when Austin was really weird.
The tour bus that got away, as told by Ray Wylie Hubbard:
“It was Halloween in Austin, had to be 1984 or 1985. I was playing at Raven’s Garage on 6th Street with my band. The bar is still there, but it’s called something else now.”
“We had this old bus, a GMC 4104, and we parked on a side street because 6th Street was barricaded off. Now anyone who’s been in downtown Austin on Halloween knows that 6th Street is packed with people in costume, just walking back and forth, up and down.”
“Raven’s Garage was kinda like a beer garden. If you were up on stage you could see the street. So I’m up there singing, and I can see the people outside.”
“Suddenly I recognize our tour bus going down the street. ‘Well, I guess the police told Gary (McDonald) that he had to move the bus,’ I thought. Someone in the crowd requested the song Mr. Bojangles, and I knew it well enough so I decided to do it.”
“It was then I looked into the audience and saw this guy dressed like Sherlock Holmes with a deerstalker hat and a pipe. Then I realized that guy was Gary Mc, our bus driver.”
“So if you had been in the audience that night, this is what you would have seen. I’m on stage singing, ‘I knew a man Bojangles and he... Gary Mc! The bus!’ I sling off my guitar and jump out the door with Sherlock Holmes behind me, and the band is left on stage still playin’.”
“The bus, with no driver, started rolling, busted through the barricade, made a turn on its own, and was moving down 6th street through the crowd. Now, no one was hurt. The bus made another quirky turn and stopped when it knocked down a little tree that had been planted by (the real estate firm) Trammell Crow.”
“I heard someone ask, ‘Whose bus is that?’ and Gary Mc shouted back to them, ‘I think it’s Rusty Weir’s !’ It was hilarious once we got down there. It was such a sigh of relief that no one was hurt.”
“Turns out someone had tried to get into the bus, maybe through a window, and the emergency brake had disengaged. The police gave us tickets for illegal parking and a busted headlight. And we had to buy Trammell Crow a new tree.”
The mystery of the nickname “Wylie Lama”:
The Examiner contacted both Cleaves and Carll who attribute the moniker to Michael O’Connor or Adam Carroll. O’ Connor says he first heard the name from Jeff Plankenhorn. Adam Caroll says “It may very well be that the Dalai Lama himself gave Ray that name. I hear that he is a fan of Snake Farm and Redneck Mother.”
The latest on Ray Wylie:
Hubbard hosts his 2nd Annual Grit ‘n Groove Festival in Luckenbach, Texas April 3, 2010. Advanced seats are sold out, festival admission is still available.
Hubbard’s latest recording A. Enlightenment B. Endarkenment (Hint: There is no C) hit #1 on the Americana charts and stayed there for two weeks. Buy the CD directly from “Ray Mart” if you want to help keep it weird.
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