Ray Benson has not spent his life Asleep on the Wheel. For the previous 40 years, he and his iconic band have been rolling alongside Route 66 and different main highways throughout the nation, performing in venues starting from dance halls to live performance halls, on tv and in movie and choosing up 9 Grammy Awards and buckets of nominations alongside the best way. It appears simply yesterday that he and his present roster of Western Swing kings and a queen had their starting with the band he fashioned in Paw Paw, West Virginia to open in 1970 for Alice Cooper and Scorching Tuna.
After a brief keep in Frisco, Benson's good pal Willie Nelson urged him to settle in Austin, Texas. It was the right place to hone his love of nation into the Greatest Nation & Western Band, an honor bestowed upon the Wheel by Rolling Stone journal in 1977. Over time, Benson has labored with practically 100 excellent musicians, a lot of which returned to Austin final week for the official 40th Anniversary Reunion Live performance. Amongst them have been Nelson and Leon Rausch, who vocals on the Wheel's newest launch, "It's a Good Day," retain the timbre and character which have set him aside since he joined Bob Willis and his Texas Playboys in 1958. Rausch's suggestion that the Wheel document "Get Your Kicks on Route 66" led to 4 completely different variations in 4 a long time and nonetheless lures followers to find what stays of the well-known highway. Leon has been a great pal for a few years, and when he hit his 80th birthday Ray instructed him he didn’t need to wait till he's 90 to characteristic him on a recording. "It's A Good Day" is proof that the timing is ideal.
Throughout the previous 40 years, the Wheel has had some nice surprises. All the Grammy Awards have particular which means, however the first one in 1978 was the largest shock. That they had no concept they'd win and have been enjoying in Lubbock, Texas once they discovered about it.
Now that Benson and Texas are embedded collectively in historical past, it's arduous to imagine that he grew up in suburban Philadelphia and performed basketball at William Penn Constitution, a Quaker college, earlier than steering his love of roots music on the lengthy drive throughout 4 a long time. One of many culminating moments was receiving the American Music Awards of 2009 for "Lifetime Achievement in Efficiency."
Benson's distinctive Western Swing pays homage to blues, jazz, boogie-woogie and folks with equal vigor. All of it harks again to rising up in Philadelphia and listening to the massive number of music pouring out of the native radio. He recollects flipping the dialogs to catch such favorites because the Kingston Trio, Woody Guthrie and the Carter Household.
At 9, he and his sister carried out folks music for associates and neighbors and by highschool he was enjoying tuba within the marching band and bass fiddle within the orchestra. By incorporating his favourite music types, fiddling pyrotechnics and honky-tonk piano, he created toxicating, upbeat, danceable music that propels Wheel followers to their ft.
5 years in the past, he added the title of dramatist to his quite a few skills by co-writing a musical drama commemorating the 100th birthday of his idol, Bob Wills. "A Journey with Bob: The Bob Wills Musical" performed on the Kennedy Middle, San Francisco and venues all through the US and Texas. It continues to tour this 12 months to the delight of followers and newcomers to the world of Western Swing.
"Willie & the Wheel," the recording with Willie Nelson that received a Grammy nomination for the brand new class of Greatest Americana Album, was so profitable that Benson plans "Willie & The Wheel II" for launch in 2011.
"Wherever we play, we would like folks to recollect our musics, within the plural," Benson mentioned. "We play the whole lot from the 30s to the current and hope that younger folks uncover it once they get by means of listening to pop music. That occurs about age 30 once they discover us and the actual music."