Who would have thought that a six-foot-seven-inch Jewish hippie from Philadelphia would have started one of the best “fringe” western swing bands of its time, and still keep comin’ right at ya! More than forty years, twenty-five albums, and nine Grammy Awards later, Asleep at the Wheel is still drawing crowds around the world, led by the one and only Ray Benson. Join us this Wednesday, November 18 at 7PM as this Texas music legend shares the story of his music, his band and his life with us here at BookPeople. After he talks, he’ll sign copies of his new memoir Comin’ Right at Ya: How a Jewish Yankee Hippie Went Country, Or, the Often Outrageous History of Asleep at the Wheel.
Always doing what he wanted to do, Benson has been dedicated to the industry as a deal maker, hustler, a mover, and a shaker. Even while his band has gone through over 90 members over it’s forty years he just keeps on proving to be an icon of Western Swing.
Early on Asleep at the Wheel landed a gig opening for Alice Cooper and Hot Tuna in Washington, DC in 1970. It was the band’s first big show. At the height of Vietnam, many Americans were using their choice of music to express their stance on the conflict in southeast Asia. “We wanted to break that mold,” said Benson. “We were concerned more with this amazing roots music, which we felt was being lost amid the politics. We were too country for the rock folks and we were too long-haired for the country folks. But everybody got over it once the music started playing.”
Benson and Asleep at the wheel have tried to maintain the ‘boot scootin’ brought to us by Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, the king of Western Swing. They have worked with Willie Nelson, George Strait, Merle Haggard, the Avett Brothers and many, many more.
Throughout their four decades the Wheel has driven the genre to the edge, explored new territories, picked up new passengers along the way and crisscrossed the country to the delight of fans and critics alike. And there’s no chance of slowing down now.
The speaking portion of this event is free & open to the public. Tickets are required to join the signing line. Tickets are only available with the purchase of a copy of Comin’ Right at Ya from BookPeople. Check out the event page for guidelines and to purchase your copy of Comin’ Right at Ya.