Asleep at the Wheel has been pumping out fiddle-filled Texas swing for more than 38 boot-stomping years. Started by vocalist Ray Bensen in Paw Paw, W. Va., the band cut its teeth opening for acts like Alice Cooper and Hot Tuna. They landed a record deal after being mentioned by Van Morrison in a Rolling Stone interview, and at the request of Willie Nelson, relocated to Austin, Texas. With nine Grammy awards and more than 20 studio albums tucked under their longhorn belt buckles, Asleep at the Wheel is a testament to the lasting popularity of hay-kicking, dancehall-rattling swing.
The band recently produced A Ride with Bob, a musical celebrating Western swing pioneer Bob Wills' 100th birthday. The musical follows Bensen and his bus driver, Wills' ghost, on a tune-filled journey through the cotton fields and country dive bars that made up the music legend's life story. In addition to a sprinkling of performances of A Ride with Bob, the band's 2009 tour includes dates with Willie Nelson to celebrate the release of their cover album, Willie and the Wheel. With a schedule that has the band booked through January 2010, we hope someone's awake to guide the band's tour bus down those long and dusty back roads.
Thursday, Jan. 8, 8 p.m., $23.50 adv., $26 door. Knitting Factory, 416 S. Ninth St., 208-367-1212, bo.knittingfactory.com.