Wednesday night was a long time coming for both Ray Wylie Hubbard and the Grand Ole Opry. The celebrated Texas troubadour made his debut on the legendary Nashville live-radio program with a sly reply after country star Pam Tillis introduced him: "Thank you, Pam, for the nice introduction. I can hardly wait to hear me."
Hubbard then launched into probably one of the most un-Opry-like songs ever performed on the Opryland stage: "Snake Farm," his catchy little country-blues ditty about a tourist attraction along Interstate 35 between Austin and San Antonio.
Soon enough, much of the crowd was singing along: "Snake Farm, it just sounds nasty/ Snake farm, it pretty much is."
Backed by a band that included his son Lucas Hubbard on guitar, Ray Wylie rolled through a three-song set that also included "The Messenger (from 1994's "Loco Gringo's Lament") and "Loose" (from 2010's "A. Enlightentment B. Endarkenment. (Hint: There Is No C)."
READ MORE: Our 2017 interview with Ray Wylie Hubbard
Now that Ray Wylie has played the Opry, all that's left is… "Austin City Limits"? Hubbard, 72, is almost certainly the most prominent legacy act from the TV show's 1970s origins to have never had his own episode. About a decade ago, his friend Hayes Carll brought Hubbard onstage for a song as part of Carll's first taping of the show.
Carll talks about that experience in "The Messenger: The Songwriting Legacy of Ray Wylie Hubbard," a new book from author Brian T. Atkinson due out Aug. 16 on Texas A&M University Press. It follows Hubbard's 2015 autobiography, "A Life, Well, Lived," written with Thom Jurek.
Hubbard, who made his usual appearance at Willie Nelson's Fourth of July Picnic a couple of weeks ago, next plays Austin on Aug. 24 as part of Bat Fest, which takes over the Congress Avenue bridge from 4 p.m. to midnight.
LISTEN — American-Statesman's Peter Blackstock talks about Willie Nelson's Picnic on Austin360 Radio: