Anything but sleepy

Asleep at the Wheel swings Big Room

THE REMARKABLE MR. BENSON <br>Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson led his band through a torrid little set at Sierra Nevada’s Big Room.

Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson led his band through a torrid little set at Sierra Nevada’s Big Room.

Photo By Tom Angel

Asleep at the Wheel
Sierra Nevada Big Room
Wednesday, July 2

Last Wednesday’s Asleep at the Wheel show in the Sierra Nevada Brewery’s Big Room was anything but sleepy. It took hardly any time at all for that joint to be seriously jumpin'. The dance floor—the whole room—pulsated practically all night. There was a fair amount of passionate hootin’ and hollerin'. And near the end of it, there were ladies dancing atop tables. Hoo-yeah! That was some swingin’ dance hall!

The grand and towering singer and guitarist Mr. Ray Benson led his group and charmed the audience with his smooth, deep-voiced Texas gusto. One guitar, two fiddles, pedal steel, stand up, electric “stick” bass, keyboard and a drum kit with a cymbal in the shape of Texas: that, and the fine musicianship that got it all going, was a definite recipe for success that Wednesday night.

“Route 66,” “Don’t Fence Me In,” “Miles and Miles of Texas,” “Six-Pack to Go,” “Roly Poly” ("Roly Poly, Daddy’s little fatty…'Long as he can chew it, it’s OK …"), “El Paso,” “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie,” “Big Ball’s in Cowtown"… I mean, they played all the cool stuff you’d want to hear from the self-professed (and aptly so) “Post-Modern Kings of Western Swing.” Fiddler Haydn (pronounced “Hayden") Vitera turned all the women’s knees to Jell-O late in the show (if he hadn’t already done it earlier when he sang Freddy Fender’s “I’ll Be There Before the Next Teardrop Falls") when he sang, in Spanish, “Historia de un Amor” ("Story of a Love"). Beautiful!

Their last song, before an inevitable encore, was the well-known and rockin’ "House of Blue Lights," which saw Benson jovially juggling three foil balls for a short bit, to the audience’s delight. It also boasts these lines: "We’ll have a time and we’ll cut some rug/ while we dig those tunes like they should be dug. …" That’s exactly what we did!