It isn't often that the Bayou books a swinging band. And rarely do they have need to smother the dance floor with additional seats to accomodate two sell-out shows. Nonetheless, that was the case last night as Asleep at the Wheel, Austin's answer to Count Basie, rolled into town for a one-night stand.
On stage. Asleep at the Wheel is as reckless as thesir name implies, forever weaving across country, Cajun, R & B and jazz lines with eight musicians standing on the pedal.
Lead guitarists Ray Benson began by baptizing the crowd honorary citizends of hte Lone Star State with "Miles and Miles of Texas." After that, it was smooth sailing whether it was down "Route 66" or back to the '40s for "Ain't Nobody in Here but Us Chickens." It seemed that the Wheel was taking the course traveled by jump bandmaster Louis Jordan rather than the one mapped out by Bob Wills, the name most often associated with Western swing.
Inadvertently, Chris O'Connell helped to apply the brakes on the evening; her vocals on "God Bless the Child" were not sufficiently miked but her fine duet with veteran blues man John Nicholas later compensated for that problem.
Of course, the wheel owes Bob Wills a lot. With their hand-clapping version of "Take Me Back to Tulsa," they acknowledged that debt and gave the crowd what they had come for at the same time.