The summer music slow season is about over and the Fall schedule is about to descend on us, oh no! First up was Asleep At the Wheel at the Bull Run on Thursday, 9/11.
AATW has been around since 1970 with a rotating cast around lead-man Ray Benson. Ray has had his ups and downs over the years, but the band is back on top. Nobody can do Western Swing the way they do. Well ok, some people can, but AATW and Benson do it with an ease and a sense of fun that can't be equaled.
We were at the table at the left corner of the stage, and so had pretty good seats. You've got to be up front for the Sawtelle Room because the floor isn't pitched and the stage is barely elevated. Just before the band went on a rogue attendee asked if she could squeeze into our table and we said sure. She asked and I told her I'd been listening to AATW for a long time, and she said probably not as long as her. As it turned out, she's Ray's sister and is currently living on the Cape!
Ray has added some new personnel to the band, Emily Gimble on piano and vocals (Tommy Gimble's granddaughter) and Katie Holmes on fiddle and vocals. Emily was off the charts fantastic. Her piano chops were superlative and her vocals were flawless, including a lead on the classic blues tune, A Good Man Is Hard To Find. Katie was pretty good, as well as Eddie Rivers on steel, David Miller on stand-up electric bass, and David Sanger on drums. They also had a saxophonist/clarinetist (their producer perhaps? he alternated on soundboard) who we would have liked to hear a bit more.
Their mix was pretty muddy at first, but they eventually got used to the room and filled it well. Benson was in a pretty expansive mood and was, as usual, incredible. He's got one of the great voices, including power throughout an amazing range from upper baritone to the deepest bass. They have an incredible repertoire to cover and tried to get to a bunch of those songs. I was very glad to hear them do Faded Love, on which they did a couple of measures of "everyone play!" Dixieland, and also House Of Blue Lights and even Hot Rod Lincoln.
Dave liked it! Not a bad drive back home and got to bed not too late. Much more music to come soon!