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June 22 @ 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
At a towering 6’7”, the Philadelphia-born Ray Benson is considered a giant in the industry. However, it’s his contributions to music history, not his height, that have made him a dominant figure on the music scene since 1970. Ray Benson is the front man and founder of the world-renowned Western swing band Asleep at the Wheel. For fifty plus years, Ray has been the driving force behind “The Wheel” and has overseen the release of more than 25 albums, countless tours, and has won 10 GRAMMY™ Awards. 2009’s release of “Willie & The Wheel” with collaborator Willie Nelson garnered another Grammy nomination for Best Americana Album, and 2015’s “Still the King: Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys” won a Grammy for Best Recording Package. Asleep at the Wheel’s first original record in over a decade, “New Routes”, was released in September 2018.
Ray celebrated Asleep at the Wheel’s 50th anniversary in 2020. Though the pandemic forced the band to take a break from touring for most of the year, Ray and the band found ways to keep chugging along, including playing a few shows as the “Asleep at the Wheel String Band” and the exciting premiere of the “Austin City Limits” special “50 Years of Asleep at the Wheel: A Retrospective” on PBS.
Ray’s honors include 2011 Texan of the Year, 2011 Texas Medal of the Arts Award for Multimedia, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association, the TEC Les Paul Award and, in 2004 the official Texas State Musician. He stars in a play he co-wrote, “A Ride with Bob: The Bob Wills Musical,” to commemorate the legend’s 100th birthday. A sought-after producer, he has worked with such artists as Willie Nelson, Aaron Neville, Carolyn Wonderland, Aaron Watson, and Suzy Bogguss. Additionally, Benson is the founder of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, an organization that supports aging R&B artists from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s that have reaped little financial benefit from their music. He is also an active advocate and board member for the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, as well as the Texas Dance Hall Preservation. From 2010 to 2019, Benson hosted the highly successful Texas Music Scene television series which broadcasts weekly in 250,000 homes across the top 16 cities in Texas, showcasing live performances of today’s talent in the Texas and Red Dirt music circuit. He also hosts the Austin Outer Limits radio show on Sirius XM’s Willie’s Roadhouse.