Black Music Matters Festival

Asleep at the Wheel

Live – 1997 (Epic/Lucky Dog)

Reviewed by George Hauenstein

"Western Swing ain't's Asleep at the Wheel!!!!" These are the words that introduce the band that has been delighting audiences with their mix of country music, jazz and western swing for close to 30 years.

Band leader and super guitarist Ray Benson has been at the helm for the entire time and refuses to let the band's sound get stale. This thoroughly enjoyable recording includes 12 of AATW's most popular songs, including "House of Blue Lights," "Hot Rod Lincoln," "Boogie Back to Texas" and "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens."

Recorded in Las Vegas, it features Benson and the current, cracker-jack AATW line-up, some legendary alums: Lucky Oceans, Leroy Preston and Chris O'Connell, and guest appearances by the Maguire Sisters and '90's country chart toppers, Wade Hayes and Tracy Byrd. Byrd has a wonderful voice and shines on "Miles and Miles of Texas"and Bob Will's, "Ida Red.",.This is the first release on Lucky Dog, Sony's label devoted to artists not having strong Top 40 appeal. Here's hoping that Asleep at the Wheel keeps rolling along for years to come.