Ramblin' Rhodes

Stroll down memory lane with music columnist Don Rhodes.

Ramblin' Rhodes: Songwriters Hubbard, Crowell headed to Imperial

TODD WOLFSON/SPECIAL
Songwriters Ray Wylie Hubbard (above) and Rodney Crowell will perform at Imperial Theatre on Feb. 14 to close out the 2013-14 Southern Soul & Song series.
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Don’t you just love those country songs with their funny real titles?

You know, like Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road (Loudon Wainwright III), I Want To Know You Before I Make Love To You (Conway Twitty), Would You Lay With Me In A Field of Stone (David Alan Coe, Tayna Tucker), (My) D-I-V-O-R-C-E (Is Becoming Final Today) (Tammy Wynette) and Take This Job And Shove It (Johnny Paycheck).

Well, another of those classic funny song titles that has become a popular bar sing-along is Up Against The Wall, Redneck Mother made famous by Jerry Jeff Walker in 1973.

Ray Wylie Hubbard, who wrote that hit recording, most likely will sing it when he comes to Augusta next week. Hubbard will appear with singer/songwriter Rodney Crowell at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, at the Imperial Theatre for the Morris Museum of Art’s Budweiser True Southern Soul & Song Series.

Tickets are $27, $22 and $15. Call (706) 722-8341 or visit imperialtheatre.com.

Hubbard was born in Hugo, Okla., and grew up in nearby Soper before he moved at an early age to Texas where he became an integral figure in the early southwest Texas music scene.

The Web site for the Freight and Salvage Coffee House in Berkeley, Calif., noted of Hubbard’s upcoming appearance last September:

“Ray Wylie Hubbard is a Texas original. He’s old enough to collect retirement, but he’s still writing songs, recording, performing, producing, touring, and scoring movies, and he still has the same wily spirit that has been his trademark since he wrote Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother. . . .”

The music Web site do512.com noted, “Ray Wylie Hubbard has risen over the last decade to elder statesman stature within the Texas music scene as well as earning his place as one of the most esteemed songwriters within American roots music.”

Crowell, a native of Houston, Texas, has written or co-written a long string of hit songs including Leavin’ Louisiana in the Broad Daylight (The Oak Ridge Boys), I Ain’t Living Long Like This (Waylon Jennings), ’Til I Gain Control Again (Crystal Gayle), Long Hard Road (The Sharecropper’s Dream and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), I Don’t Know Why You Don’t Want Me (by his former wife Roseanne Cash), Somewhere Tonight (Highway 101), Please Remember Me (Tim McGraw) and Ashes By Now (Lee Ann Womack and Emmylou Harris).

He also recorded hit versions of his own songs including I Couldn’t Leave You If I Tried, She’s Crazy for Leavin’ and also After All This Time, which won Crowell a Grammy Award in 1989 for Best Country Song of the year.

One song he wrote that Augustans particularly will remember is Voila An America Dream that contains these lines:

“I beg your pardon momma what did you say? My mind was drifting on a Martinque day. It’s not that I’m not interested you see. Augusta, Georgia, is just no place to be.”

The song first appeared on Crowell’s 1978 debut album Ain’t Living Long Like This. It became a major hit single two years later when the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band recorded it with Linda Ronstadt.

Crowell told me in 2011, “It was just poetic license simply creating that character in the song that didn’t have any money to go anywhere. I could just have easily used Knoxville, Tennessee, but for some reason Augusta popped in my head. It was just the sound of the words.”

RUDE PATRONS CONTINUED: Once again, rude patrons could be found in Imperial Theatre when two great artists, Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott, performed recently for the Southern Soul & Song series.

One nicely dressed couple in the far left floor side of the Imperial decided it was entirely all right to use their electronic devices to their heart’s content no matter if it disturbed those around them. The woman constantly was texting and checking messages on her very bright phone while her husband used his iPad to film the show.

Everyone who has been to any of the Morris concert series knows that museum director Kevin Grogan at every show repeats the same pre-show mantra: “Audio and video recording are not permitted at this performance. Photography is, but flash photography is not.”

And he always adds, “Silence your cell phones” and often adds half-jokingly, “If you wanted to spend the evening on the phone, then you shouldn’t have wasted good money on concert tickets.”

It is not Grogan’s job to enforce the rules. That’s the responsibility of Imperial Theatre management. That also goes for the management of all other entertainment venues in the area.

Arts groups and theatrical management folks may not want to offend patrons by taking action when they are out of line, but if they don’t it’s a sure bet their regular customers are going to stop coming to the shows.

“I’ve known for some time that the balconies are just not as well patrolled as they should be, and the ushers get next to no training about this sort of thing particularly,” Grogran told me.

The Augusta National makes patrons check their electronic devices at the gate or bans them forever if they catch the offenders with them. Maybe arts groups in Augusta need to take the same affirmative attitude.

UPCOMING NOTABLE HAPPENINGS:

• Jeff Barnes, Four Kings of Country show, 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, at Greenbrier High School Auditorium, to benefit the Greenbrier Navy Junior Reserve Officer training corps unit; $10 for adults and $7 for students reserved by calling (706) 650-4040, ext. 4190, daytime or (706) 394-3916 evenings.

• Free reception, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, for the Entertainment History of North Augusta exhibit at the McDuffie Museum of History, 121 Main St., in Thomson, Ga. Jason B. Smith will autograph copies of his book based on a Smithsonian Institute touring exhibit at the McDuffie Museum about the roots of country music.

• WRDW-TV in North Augusta will host a free reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, in the Augusta Museum of History, Reynolds at Sixth Streets, observing its 60th broadcast anniversary. Current and former WRDW on-air personalities will be there along with historic station photos on display.


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