ride

Asleep At The Wheel @ Boulder Theater | 7/24

Can a wheel reinvent itself while it’s still rolling?

Sounds like an impossible task -- but you never want to say “impossible” to Asleep at the Wheel, the famed western-swing, boogie, and roots-music outfit that’s, amazingly, still on the upswing. That’s saying something, too, considering the group’s been around for nearly 40 years, turning out an incredible 25+ albums while playing an unrelenting schedule of one-nighters that would make a vaudevillian dizzy.

“In terms of how many people we played for, what we accomplished, and how much money we made – well, we didn’t make any money – this year was absolutely our best year ever,” says Wheel founder and front man Ray Benson with a chuckle.

And even as the Wheel rolled on, the reinvention had begun. You could see and hear it in their live shows, where new vocalist Elizabeth McQueen invited comparison with the classic female vocalists of the band’s earlier era, and fiddler-singer Jason Roberts gave the band a second male lead voice to complement Benson’s immediately identifiable baritone.

These days, the reinvented Wheel is also rolling down a couple of new avenues. One involves to the critically acclaimed musical play, A Ride With Bob, which stars Benson as himself -- encountering the ghost of Bob Wills on a tour bus – Roberts as the young Wills, and McQueen as Minnie Pearl and other famed entertainment figures, with the rest of the band members featured as well. Originally designed as a one-off celebration of Wills’ 100th birthday in ’05, A Ride With Bob quickly took on a life of its own and, notes Benson, “it’s absolutely a part of what we do now.” Another success has been the adaptation of the Wheel’s repertoire for pops symphony. Performances with Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth & Amarillo symphonies have drawn record crowds.

The Wheel’s new look is also spotlighted in several new discs – the first called, appropriately enough, Reinventing the Wheel. The 12-cut celebration of American – particularly Southwestern – music features guest appearances by gospel’s Blind Boys of Alabama (with a splendid reworking of the old Wills tune “The Devil Ain’t Lazy”) and banjoist Rolf Sieker, along with lead vocals by McQueen and Roberts as well as Benson, whose voice has been synonymous with Asleep at the Wheel for decades.

The second is 2009’s Willie and the Wheel; a collaboration with Willie Nelson that was originally envisioned by famed producer Jerry Wexler in the 1970s. Unfortunately before they had a chance to cut it, Nelson had left Atlantic Records. But over the ensuing decades Wexler kept the idea alive and even gave Ray his entire collection of western swing vinyl that included his notes on song choices and treatments. In late 2007 the idea was revived and Jerry and Ray reconnected by phone. Always the producer with a vision, Jerry was involved in every way. He insisted that some of the tracks should include horns as well as a return to traditional fiddles and lap steel guitar associated with western swing. As the sessions concluded and Willie finished his vocals the tracks were sent to Jerry. “To my delight and relief,” says Ray, “he loved them.” In fact, Wexler heard most of the finished tracks prior to his passing in August 2008. "Jerry wanted us to do this album and I'm glad we got to do it for him, “says Willie Nelson. “And that he heard it before he passed on."

The success of the Willie and the Wheel album release was quickly followed up by a tour and even a taping of the 35th anniversary of Austin City Limits for PBS (for broadcast in Fall of 2009), a fitting double-bill as Willie had taped the pilot and Asleep at the Wheel appeared in the very first regular episode of the legendary live music television program.

And now in contemplating the 40th anniversary of Asleep at the Wheel in 2010, Ray remains focused on the original concept. “I carried the load for many, many years, but I’ve always just wanted to have a band, as opposed to Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel,” Benson explains. “That’s what we had in the ‘70s – a band, a revue kind of deal, which was the whole concept. But trying to replace a Chris O’Connell was very difficult. And then Elizabeth walks up, and boom – here’s my girl singer. And then I kept pushing Jason, both through the play and through the band, saying, `Man, you’ve got talent. You can sing. You’ve got the golden ear – just apply it to your singing and songwriting.’”


Roberts, who’s been the Wheel’s full-time fiddler since early ’96, welcomed the opportunity to be a part of the revamped, revue-style Wheel. “I think everybody got a chance to put their two cents in, and bring to the table what they had, ” he adds. “God bless Ray Benson for allowing us to do that..”

Adds McQueen, “One of the things about Asleep at the Wheel is that they always have great musicians. That’s what they’re known for. So for them to ask me to join and then to keep me in the band, and to let me step out a little more and stand in the shoes of Chris O’Connell and Maryann Price, who were amazing singers – that’s an incredible honor. It’s above and beyond my greatest expectations.”

So, whether your next encounter with Asleep at the Wheel is at a dance or concert, or backing up Willie Nelson via the new disc, or at a live production of A Ride with Bob, you’ll be witnessing something very special -- a band that’s not only been entertaining audiences with its own genre-busting music for four decades, but also a group that’s never been afraid to try something new -- including a reinvention, inspired by the past, that rolls joyously toward a long and shining future.

More Info / Buy Tickets

-

Date/Time: July 24, 2011, 8:00 pm

Audience: All Ages

Seating: All Seated Reserved/GA

Ticket Availability: Yes

General Admission: $32.00

Reserved Tickets: $37.50

Gold Circle: $48.50

The Black Ryder Announce Tour Dates With The Cult

Straight from the land of OZ, The Black Ryder are set to release their full length Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride on September 21st via Mexican Summer. Harping a comforting 90's sound of rhinestone drone, this amazing record is a true trip from start to finish and will be released digitally, on CD, and vinyl.
Previously released only in Australia in 2009, Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride is chock full of brooding vocals and dark mysterious paths on a pitch black open road. Complimented with comfort by a tambourine beat of dreams, singer Aimee Nash's voice is a soothing romp, effortlessly partnered with guitarist Scott Van Ryper. TBR is a carefully thought out process of melody, sound, texture, time, space, dynamics, mood, and effect. Says Nash "It is a labor of love that is carefully constructed with particular emphasis on melody, harmony, and placement. This makes more sense to me than trying to draw comparisons or categorizing ourselves into any one genre or style of music." Standouts like "All That We See" and "Gone without Feeling"  are psychedelic markers of calm on this strong debut.
Whilst this collection of recorded works was all done by the band themselves, The Black Ryder has had the great pleasure of working with Peter Hayes & Leah Shapiro of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and Graham Bonnar (ex-Swervedriver). The band made their live debut on the B.R.M.C Australian tour (January 2008) and have since opened for The Raveonettes, The Brian Jonestown Massacre & The Charlatans.

TOUR DATES
(More TBA)
Sept 14 - 4th + B - San Diego
Sept 16 - Palm - Las Vegas
Sept 19 - Warfield Theatre - San Francisco
Sept 21 - Showbox Sodo - Seattle
Sept 22 - The Knitting Factory - Spokane
Sept 24 - Salt Air Pavilion - Salt Lake City
Sept 25 - Ogden Theatre - Denver

The Bridge Ride 'Blind Man's Hill' Coast To Coast On Winter Tour

The Bridge- for the Grateful Web

Baltimore's favorite sons, The Bridge, head out for a 30-city, coast-to-coast, U.S tour this month that stretches through the end of February. The band begins with dates in the mid-Atlantic region before heading south for shows in Alabama, Louisiana and Texas, next making a full run up the West Coast to Washington before winding down to Colorado. The Bridge are touring behind Blind Man's Hill, their brand new album on Hyena Records.  The 12-track collection hit number seven this week on Americana Radio chart, while the six piece unit is coming off a sold out New Year's Eve show with the Rebirth Brass Band in Baltimore. After playing numerous summer festivals last year, as well as dates with Mike Gordon, Little Feat and Dark Star Orchestra, The Bridge have a growing word-of-mouth buzz based on word of their incendiary live performances. But while The Bridge's sets are often laced with fierce improvisations that touch on numerous corners of American roots music, it's the songwriting of founding members Cris Jacobs and Kenny Liner, resonating with odes to honey bees, poison wine and lives born to ramble, that is the cornerstone to their antique charm.

Upcoming tour dates for The Bridge are:

January 21 / Dante's / Frostburg, MD
January 22 / Club Cafe / Pittsburgh, PA
January 23 / The V Club / Huntington, WV
January 24 / 123 Pleasant Street / Morgantown, WV
January 28 / The Lantern / Blacksburg, VA
January 29 / Boone Saloon / Boone, NC
January 30 / Smith's Olde Bar / Atlanta, GA
January 31 / Mellow Mushroom / Tuscaloosa, AL
February 4 / The Blue Nile / New Orleans, LA
February 5 / Cactus Music / Houston, TX (Free In-Store)
February 5 / The Continental / Houston, TX
February 6 / House Of Blues / Dallas, TX
February 7 / Stubb's BBQ / Austin, TX
February 10 / Winston's / San Diego, CA
February 11 / The Mint / Los Angeles, CA
February 12 / Don Quixote's / Santa Cruz, CA
February 13 / The Hopmonk Tavern / Sebastapol, CA
February 14 / Boom Boom Room / San Francisco, CA
February 15 / Sweetwater / Mill Valley, CA
February 17 / Humboldt Brews / Arcata, CA
February 18 / Indigo / Eugene, OR (w/ JFJO)
February 19 / The Goodfoot / Portland, OR
February 20 / The Wild Buffalo / Bellingham, WA
February 21 / Tost Lounge / Seattle, WA
February 22 / John's Alley / Moscow, ID
February 23 / John's Alley / Moscow, ID
February 24 / Top Hat / Missoula, MT
February 26 / Hodi's Half Note / Fort Collins, CO
February 27 / Quixote's / Denver, CO
February 28 / B-Side Lounge / Boulder, CO

Last Ride Bluesfest @ The Seven Clans Casino | 2007

For several years, the Seven Clans Casino and Hotel outside of Thief River Falls has sponsored an outdoor bluesfest. It began with one short evening of music and has morphed into two days of blues goodness, usually for no cost.