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Asleep At The Wheel Talk 'New Routes,' Willie Nelson & More At ACL

Asleep At The Wheel

Daniel Mendoza/Recording Academy

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Asleep At The Wheel Talk 'New Routes,' Willie Nelson & More At ACL

Ray Benson and Katie Shore of the legendary western swing band discuss their latest

GRAMMYs/Oct 7, 2018 - 03:45 am

Western swing might not be what it is today without one man: Ray Benson. Since founding Asleep At The Wheel in 1970, Benson has shaped the modern iteration of the classic genre. The group's latest effort, New Routes, is injected with the fresh voice and fiddle chops of Katie Shore and shows Benson and crew at their finest, bringing the format he helped popularize and evolve into a whole new age and in front of a new audience.

We sat down with Benson and Shore backstage at Austin City Limits (ACL) to discuss the band's matchless legacy, the memorable moments of making their new album, how they came to collaborate with the Avett Brothers on a song about Willie Nelson, and more.

Can you tell us what's behind the title of the new album, New Routes?

Benson: The idea was that there's new pathways, but we are a roots American band and that's always been our handle.

It's a great title and album—what do you feel you accomplished that was new for Asleep at the Wheel on this album?

Benson: Well, Katie, for one, she shares the vocals and writing chores with me and so that's what it's all about [.] I've had so many wonderful people in the band, over 100 people for 48 years, and so when Katie joined and Dennis [Ludiker], the other fiddler, and then Connor [Forsyth] on the piano, they all contributed things, and Josh [Hoag] on the bass, so there was a new bunch that had new ideas that I could work with.

Katie, your stamp on this album is unmistakable. Are there moments or songs on it that stick out to you as favorites?

Shore: I love the whole record. It was a lot of fun, and I kind of can't believe that it's out. We put our heart and soul into this record, but I really love this, and I'm totally biased cause it's the song that Ray and I wrote, but "Call It A Day Tonight" I think is my favorite. I love that it's so rooted in swing, and the fact that we wrote it together, and I live in a really small town outside of Austin, so we love it. We love playing that every night.

Can you tell us a little bit about how you wrote that together?

Benson: I had an idea for a song and she had an idea for a song and the two met. And then, as I've said before, co-writing usually you gotta be in the same room with the person. Well, she and her husband live out there in the middle of nowhere and I live in town, and so we would text each other, and you can sing into your dang phone now, and so, I'd play a guitar thing, and she'd send everything back and forth and that's how we finished it. But the idea was about a song about somebody late at night in Austin, Texas, looking for love when the lights go down.

I heard you say somewhere that Willie writes like that also with via text.

Benson: Yeah, with Buddy Cannon. Yeah, that's how he writes.

Reminds me of the song on your new album, "Willie Got There First," with the Avett Brothers - how'd that come together?

Benson: Seth and Scott [Avett] are friends of ours and Seth sent me that song. He's a song writer so, and we share ideas and I went "Man, that's an incredible song, I mean gosh." So I played it for Willie. It's an homage to Willie Nelson and what a great song writer he is and how we're not jealous but we're all going "Oh well, that idea, throw that out the window because Willie already wrote that song." So I played it for Willie and I said, "What do you think?" He went, "It's so hard to be humble." [laughs]

He's so funny and so, I call Seth back and we had booked the date with the Avett Brothers and Asleep at the Wheel at the Long Center in Austin, Texas. And I said "Let's record it." The next day he went, "Yeah, okay." So, that was the deal.


You and your band have pioneered western swing, and brought this music to a lot of new people. Can you talk a little bit about the style?

Benson: Well, it's Texas music. It was born in Texas, Oklahoma, and California, and in the southwest in the '30s, '20s, '30s, and '40s, and kind of disappeared, and so we started [it back up]. My first record was a Bob Wills tune in 1973, and here we have Katie Shore who is 30-years-old and she's playing western swing, along with dozens of other fiddlers, singers, songwriters that are not on the mainstream pop but there is a, what, I'd say 10 or 20 bonafide western swing bands in California,

Shore: Yeah, so there's a lot.

Benson: [all over] America, back east New Jersey, in Belgium. So, it's kind of like bluegrass was, it caught on in a way and it's alive and kicking.

Shore: It's timeless and it helps too that Scott and Seth love western swing and the Old Crow Medicine Show, and when I was growing up one of my very favorite records was "Asleep at the Wheel," but all of my favorite country singers, the Dixie Chicks, they were all playing these tunes and so it all, it connected the dots and I think for younger generations, you know, the Avett Brothers being so into it, or Old Crow, I mean, I think it's always going to resonate, you know. It seems like people that love music find it; even if it's a matter of time. That's my two cents.

Katie, what's it like for you to share the stage with Ray and with the band?

Shore: It's pretty great. I used to come to ACL. I remember one year it was super muddy. It's always hot and sweaty. I would come for the whole weekend. And it's been really neat to actually be on stage and it's an honor, but we have a great time and we love doing hometown gigs so this is kind of the best of both worlds for sure.

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Allen Hughes' "The Defiant Ones" Wins Best Music Film | 2018 GRAMMY

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Allen Hughes' "The Defiant Ones" Wins Best Music Film | 2018 GRAMMY

Director Allen Hughes' four-part documentary takes home Best Music Film honors for its portrayal of the unlikely partnership that changed the music business

GRAMMYs/Jan 29, 2018 - 02:09 am

The team behind The Defiant Ones celebrated a big win for Best Music Film at the 60th GRAMMY Awards. The crew awarded include director Allen Hughes and producers Sarah Anthony, Fritzi Horstman, Broderick Johnson, Gene Kirkwood, Andrew Kosove, Laura Lancaster, Michael Lombardo, Jerry Longarzo, Doug Pray & Steven Williams.

In a year rife with quality music documentaries and series, the bar has been set high for this dynamic category. The Defiant Ones is a four-part HBO documentary telling the story of an unlikely duo taking the music business by storm seems better suited for fantastical pages of a comic book, but for engineer-turned-mogul Jimmy Iovine and super-producer Dr. Dre, it's all truth.The Defiant Ones recounts their histories, their tribulations and their wild success. These include first-hand accounts from those who were there in Iovine's early days, such as Bruce Springsteen and U2's Bono, as well as those on board when Dre and Iovine joined forces, such as Snoop Dogg and Eminem.

The competition was stiff as the category was filled with compelling films such as One More Time With Feeling, Two Trains Runnin', Soundbreaking, and Long Strange Trip. 

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Portugal. The Man To Aida Cuevas: Backstage At The 2018 GRAMMYs

Photos: WireImage.com

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Portugal. The Man To Aida Cuevas: Backstage At The 2018 GRAMMYs

Also see James Fauntleroy, Reba McIntire, Latroit, and more after they stepped off the GRAMMY stage

GRAMMYs/Jan 29, 2018 - 05:39 am

What do artists do the moment they walk off the GRAMMY stage from presenting, accepting an award or performing? Now, you can find out.

Take a peak at Album Of The Year GRAMMY winner Bruno Mars, 60th GRAMMY Awards Host James Cordon, Cardi B minutes before her electrifying performance of "Finesse," and more!

Also see Best Pop Duo/Group Performance GRAMMY winners Portugal. The Man posing with their first career GRAMMY Award, Best Roots Gospel Album GRAMMY winner Reba McIntire right after she walked offstage, Best R&B Song GRAMMY winner James Fauntleroy, Best Remixed Recording GRAMMY winner Latroit, and many more, with these photos from backstage during the 60th GRAMMY Awards.

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Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show

Glenn Danzig

Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

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Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show

Dark punk legends to play first show with Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only since last year's Riot Fest reunion

GRAMMYs/Aug 22, 2017 - 05:28 am

There's big news today for punk-rock fans aware that the Misfits made much more than just T-shirts.

The massively influential punk band announced a special show touted as the "only 2017 performance in this world… or any world" and billed as "The Original Misfits" in Los Angeles at the Forum on Dec. 30.

This will be the first Misfits show featuring original singer Glenn Danzig and original bassist Jerry Only with long-time guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein since the band reunited for a pair of Riot Fest appearances in Chicago and Denver in 2016. Last year's Riot Fest gigs, which featured drummer Dave Lombardo, marked the first time in 33 years the original Misfits members played together.

"OK Los Angeles, you've waited almost 35 years for this, here's your chance to see the "Original Misfits" in this Exclusive L.A. only performance." said Glenn Danzig. "No Tour, No BS, just one night of dark metal-punk hardcore brutality that will go down in the history books. See you there."

Tickets for this "one night only" show go on sale Friday, August 25.

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Bruno Mars Wins Song Of The Year | 2018 GRAMMYs

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Bruno Mars Wins Song Of The Year | 2018 GRAMMYs

The Hawaiian native takes home Song Of The Year for "That's What I Like" at the 60th GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/Jan 29, 2018 - 08:11 am

Feeling the 24K Magic, Bruno Mars' successful progress through the categories he's been nominated in at the 60th GRAMMY Awards picked up another one at Song Of The Year for "That's What I Like."


Christopher Brody Brown and Philip Lawrence co-write with Mars under the name Shampoo Press & Curl. The other winning songwriters for Mars' hit tonight in this category are James Fauntleroy and production team "The Sterotypes" — Ray Charles McCullough II, Jeremy Reeves, Ray Romulus and  Jonathan Yip.

For additional "Finesse" on stage at the 60th GRAMMY Awards, Mars was joined by Cardi B for a reprise of their 148-million-views hit remix.

The Album Of The Year GRAMMY Award wrapped up the night and wrapped up Bruno Mars' complete rampage through his six nominated categories — now six wins.

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