Asleep at the Wheel at the Blue Gate Performing Arts Center

 

For 50 years, Ray Benson & Asleep at the Wheel have been the chief practitioners, conspirators, and caretakers of Western swing, carrying the tradition of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys well into the 21st century, reaching both their contemporaries and the next generation of artists inspired by the great bandleader. The band has released 3 Bob Wills tribute albums “A Tribute to the Music of Bob Wills” “Ride with Bob” and “Still the King” winning five Grammy awards and selling over 600,000 copies collectively. These records featured a wide range of musical guests from country legends like George Strait, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard and Garth Brooks, to young roots artists like The Avett Brothers, Old Crow Medicine Show & Amos Lee.

2018 brought a fresh new lineup and the release of the bands newest record “New Routes” a bracing blend of original songs and vibrant cover material and some unanticipated new musical tangents, Asleep At the Wheel demonstrates convincingly it’s more relevant, enjoyable and musically nimble than any time in its 50-year history! The 6’7″ Benson has been the one constant in Asleep At the Wheel since the band’s founding in 1970 in Paw Paw, West Virginia. “I’m doing what I’m meant to do – singing and playing and writing better than I ever have. A bandleader is just someone who gathers people around them to play the best music they can play. I just try and make the best decisions possible and kick some ass every night onstage.”