Asleep at the Wheel
Articles and Interviews
It's barely six weeks into 2009, and already it's been a banner year for Ray Benson. In January alone, Benson took his band, Asleep at the Wheel, to perform in Washington, D.C., during the presidential inauguration festivities. A couple of days later, he met the newest little member of western swing's most recognizable band, as Asleep at the Wheel drummer Dave Sanger and vocalist Elizabeth McQueen brought their infant daughter Lisel to Benson's Bismeaux studios for her own little debut.
It's natural for an artist to reflect on his or her career with the release of an album like "The Very Best Of Asleep At The Wheel," but for the band's leader, Ray Benson, the project offered something more a chance to not only look back, but to fix some things, too. "That was my whole point with this album," Benson says of the disc released in June by Relentless. "I knew that we could do these songs the way I had first envisioned doing them. Not all of them would be better than the others, ...
The meeting was fleeting to say the least. Asleep at the Wheel's long-time leader Ray Benson recalls his introduction to his most obvious music hero, Bob Wills, as "a spooky thing." That is quite understandable. Wills was recording an album ("For the Last Time"), which would be his last, in 1973. "We were standing in a little hallway," recalls Benson in a telephone interview from his studio in Bismeaux, Texas. "Bob was in a wheelchair. They were wheeling him out. I said, "Hey Mr. Wills, I'm Ray Benson." "He kind of grunted, and his head kind of fell down," says Benson.Wills was in failing health. ...
This wheel - Asleep At the Wheel - does indeed keep on rollin'. In this day and age, it is quite remarkable for any musical act to last 25 years. Adding the fact that the band has had practically no help from radio makes its survival astounding. Then consider that this act has won a string of Grammys, CMA awards and widespread critical acclaim, and its feats seem nearly miraculous. But after 19 albums, 25 singles and three tour buses, Asleep At The Wheel not only survives, but thrives and celebrates its 25th anniversary. ...