Asleep at the Wheel to release new tribute to Bob Wills
Asleep at the Wheel has always been quick to sing the praises of Bob Wills, but it'll do so in a whole different way (again) with the upcoming album, "Still the King: Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys."
The aforementioned project will role out March 3, 2015 on Bismeaux Records, and is the Texas swing band's third salute to the late King of Western swing, following 1993's "Tribute to the Music of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys," and 1999's "A Ride With Bob." With 22 tracks on the upcoming project, "Still the King" will include Wills signatures like "Trouble in Mind," "Time Changes Everything" and "Faded Love" … just to name a few.
Asleep at the Wheel gets plenty of company on this album, including the Avett Brothers, Old Crow Medicine Show, Pokey LaFarge and Kat Edmonson, all rising stars. Then there are the bigger names chipping in like George Strait, Jamey Johnson, Willie Nelson, Brad Paisley, Merle Haggard, Buddy Miller, Vince Gill's Time Jumpers and so many more.
Beyond "Still the King," Ray Benson told Rolling Stone he already has another giant of Texas music in mind for his next project. He intends on recording a tribute to the bluesman T-Bone Walker. "I see it being a Nat King Cole-Natalie Cole 'Unforgettable' kind of thing with every great contemporary rock and blues guitarist," he said. "Steve, Billy Gibbons, Jimmie Vaughan, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Duke Robillard. Anybody who's into it, I'll welcome 'em in. Give me a couple of years and I'll make that happen."
Hear "A LIttle Piece" of Ray Benson
He's practically a Texas musical institution and has been the longtime frontman of the legendary Western Swing band Asleep at the Wheel. But Ray Benson's latest musical project, which dropped January 21, just happens to be a solo endeavor with a friend or two along for the ride.
If you've heard the aforementioned album, you'll know that Benson duets with none other than Willie Nelson on the tune "It Ain't You," which puts a little twang on the project called "A Little Piece." The song is a Waylon Jennings/Gary Nicholson composition (there's the name-dropping again) that had never been recorded. The album also includes the haunting "Killed by a .45," and a cover of Randy Newman's "Marie."
Benson produced the album with son Sam Seifert and Lloyd Maines, using a backing band that included Asleep at the Wheel co-founder Floyd Domino, along with longtime Wheel drummer Dave Sanger and bassist Glenn Fukunaga. Consider it a warmup to the band's upcoming third tribute album to the King of Western Swing Bob Wills, which is due out this fall.
In the meantime, Benson and Asleep at the Wheel are plenty busy. Their ambitious tour schedule is not only booked through 2014, they've already got dates penciled in for 2015 (including The Country Music Cruise in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida). A mini-documentary was also recently released which "chronicles the improbable four-decade transformation" of the band into 9 time Grammy winners and cultural icons.
Asleep at the Wheel the Kings of Texas Swing (Updated January 16, 2013)
Their name may not hold the same weight as bands like Alabama, The Eagles or even The Oak Ridge Boys. But Asleep at the Wheel has been a rare force in the music industry since the 1970's, helping to preserve the classic sounds of country and western swing.
Formed in Paw Paw, West Virginia in 1969 by Ray Benson and Lucky Oceans, Asleep at the Wheel needed just one mention in Rolling Stone magazine to land its first record deal. Their debut album, "Comin' Right at Ya," bowed in 1973. The following year they were on the road (again) at the request of Willie Nelson and put down roots in Austin, Texas.
It wasn't long after their move to the Lone Star State that Asleep at the Wheel was doing the "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie" right up the country charts. It was their first single to hit the country charts, followed by their highest charting release, "The Letter That Johnny Walker Read." By 1977, the band was voted Best Country Western Band by Rolling Stone Magazine and was awarded the Touring Band of the Year by the Academy of Country Music.
Even as time passed and pop stars and crossover artists worked their way into country music, Asleep at the Wheel remained relevant. In 2000, they were nominated by the Country Music Association for Vocal Event of the Year for "Roly Poly" with the Dixie Chicks. In 2009, the group collaborated with the Nelson to release "Willie and the Wheel." It was nominated for a 2010 Grammy Award for Best Americana Album.
Asleep at the Wheel has earned numerous awards throughout their career. Most notably, the group was given The Texas Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996. They are still one of the household names in country music, and have a full slate of tour dates booked for 2013. "A Ride With Bob," a musical about the life of Bob Wills, plays the Zach Topfer Theatre in Austin through February 24. The band also has private and public dates booked through August.
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date city state venue 3/4/2011 Red Bank NJ Count Basie Theatre 3/5/2011 Fairfield CT Quick Center for the Arts 3/9/2011 New York NY B.B. King Blues Club & Grill 3/10/2011 Stroudsburg PA Sherman Theater 3/25/2011 Phoenix AZ Rhythm Room 4/14/2011 Wilmington DE World Cafe Live at the Queen 4/22/2011 Duluth GA Wild Bill's 9/10/2011 Webster MA Indian Ranch 9/16/2011 Austin TX Zilker Park 9/16/2011 Austin TX Zilker Park 9/28/2011 Ann Arbor MI The Ark 10/17/2011 Austin TX Frank Erwin Center 12/17/2011 Austin TX Paramount Theatre
date city state venue 1/30/2010 Chandler AZ Chandler Center for the Arts 5/7/2010 Austin TX Nutty Brown Cafe 6/26/2010 Houston TX House of Blues - Houston 8/1/2010 Evanston IL SPACE 8/2/2010 Evanston IL SPACE 9/3/2010 Du Quoin IL Duquoin State Fair 9/4/2010 Fort Worth TX Billy Bob's Texas
date city state venue 10/24/2009 Nashville IN Little Nashville Opry