Wide Awake for The Wheel

P.D. Kelley

On Monday May 21st, Asleep at the Wheel once again graced the stage at the Rogue and the band made it quite clear that they love this venue and will return again and again. The audience made it quite clear that they love the Wheel and that they will keep coming back to see them as well. For a couple of hours the crowd was treated to the sounds of western swing, traditional country, a little bit of blues and some early rock and roll. The repertoire seemed endless and maybe it is as the group has been going strong for forty plus years with 10 Grammys and twice as many albums under their belt. Respect from their peers runs deep and they have had all sorts of other laud and honor bestowed on them. This seems not to have fazed them and the jovial, let’s have fun attitude is strong. Two great vocalists and fiddle players in Dennis Ludiker (who also plays mandolin) and Katie Shore, gleam brightly. Also shining are Jay Reynolds on the sax and clarinet, Connor Forsyth on keyboards, Dave Sanger on drums, Eddie Rivers on sax and steel guitar, and Josh Hoag on the upright bass. Then, of course, there is The Man, Ray Benson, on lead guitar and vocals. Benson doesn’t walk on stage, he glides, wearing some gorgeous size 16EEE boots and a 10 (20?) gallon hat; he’s just a sharp dressed man as ZZ Top would say. He is finally as tall as his age at 6 feet 7 inches and that voice is still magnificent, with a range from a medium baritone way down to a rumbling bass. As co-founder of the group he is the front man and a head cheer leader and banters with all his musicians as well as the audience in a delightful way. I simply could not take my eyes off him. He and fiddle player Katie Shore have some duets together and she holds her own with a rich but mellow voice that would work in any style of popular music. The band played some oldies and some newer numbers and encouraged the crowd to sing along and we all shouted out about that HOT…ROD…LINCOLN! I’ll be looking to see them on the marquee again.

Catch you on the flip side…