Asleep At The Wheel
It all started in 1970 when Ray Benson formed a group with the goal of helping to revive American roots music. 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."
A few years later, the band was coaxed into moving to California by Commander Cody, leader of Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen. Then the band’s big break came when Van Morrison mentioned them in an interview with Rolling Stone, saying, "There's some relatively unknown group around that I really dig, Asleep at the Wheel. They play great country music.” After that, the record offers started coming in and The Wheel got rolling.
The musicianship of Asleep at the Wheel has become the stuff of legends. Reuter’s pegged The Wheel as "one of the best live acts in the business." Taking a page from Bob Wills’ book, the band has constantly toured at a national level throughout its history, with anywhere from 7-15 of the finest players Ray Benson could talk into jumping in the bus to play a string of dates. The alumni roster is well over 80+ members and includes an impressive list of musicians who have gone on to perform with artists such as Bob Dylan, George Strait, Van Morrison, Lyle Lovett, Ryan Adams, and many more. A quick scan of awards, such as "Touring Band of the Year" (CMAs, 1976) and "Lifetime Achievement in Performance" (Americana Music Awards 2009), not to mention their near dominance of the Grammy "Country Instrumental" category over the years (they have won ten Grammys overall), reflects the reputation of the band’s musicianship. Currently the band consists of Ray Benson on Lead Guitar and Vocals, Katie Shore on Fiddle and Vocals, David Sanger on Drums, Dennis Ludiker on Fiddle, Mandolin, and Vocals, Josh Hoag on Bass, Connor Forsyth on Piano and Vocals, and Flavio Pasquetto on Steel Guitar.
Ray Benson fell in love with Western Swing because of its unique combination of American blues, swing, and traditional fiddling, and due its demanding musical chops. It’s what Benson calls "jazz with a cowboy hat". It’s a thrill to hear live and, between those Texas Twin Fiddles and Boogie Piano, you can bet you’ll be dancin’ down the aisles and swingin’ all night long when the Wheel rolls into Muncie!