Asleep at the Wheel is an American country music group that was formed in Paw Paw, West Virginia, and is based in Austin, Texas. Asleep at the Wheel landed a gig opening for Alice Cooper and Hot Tuna in Washington, DC in 1970. At the height of Vietnam, many Americans were using their choice of music to express their stance on the conflict in southeast Asia. “We wanted to break that mold,” said Benson. “We were concerned more with this amazing roots music, which we felt was being lost amid the politics. We were too country for the rock folks and we were too long-haired for the country folks. But everybody got over it once the music started playing.”
A year later, they were coaxed into moving to California by Commander Cody, leader of Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen. But, the band’s big break came when Van Morrison mentioned them in an interview with Rolling Stone “there’s some relatively unknown group around that I really dig. Asleep at the Wheel, they play great country music.” Van Morrison Rolling Stone Interview (1973). The record offers started coming in and The Wheel got rolling.
The musicianship of Asleep at the Wheel has become the stuff of legends. Reuter’s pegged The Wheel as “one of the best live acts in the business.” Taking a page from Bob Wills’ book, the band has constantly toured at a national level throughout its history; with anywhere from 7-15 of the finest players Ray Benson could talk into jumping in the bus to play a string of dates. The alumni roster is well over 80+ members, and includes an impressive list of musicians who have gone on to perform with artists such as Bob Dylan, George Strait, Van Morrison, Lyle Lovett, Ryan Adams, and many more.
A quick scan of awards, such as “Touring Band of the Year” (CMAs, 1976) and “Lifetime Achievement in Performance” (Americana Music Awards 2009), not to mention near dominance of the GRAMMY “Country Instrumental” category over the years, reflects the reputation of the band’s musicianship. Ray Benson fell in love with western swing because of its unique combination of elements of American blues, swing and traditional fiddling but also for its demanding musical chops. Western swing is what Benson calls “jazz with a cowboy hat,” is a thrill to hear live, and thanks in large part to the Wheel’s 40+ years of promotion, is a living and creative genre of music today.
Excerpt taken from the offical Asleep at the Wheel website biography.
With the recent release of Jason Aldean’s hit “1994” that name-checked many of Joe Diffie’s twelve Number One hits, the legendary singer found himself squarely back in the hearts and minds of country fans. The multi-platinum-selling artist has never slowed down – writing, touring and recording a myriad of projects including his critically acclaimed 2010 bluegrass album “Homecoming,” and his upcoming ”Country Unplugged” acoustic tour with fellow hit makers Mark Chesnutt and Lorrie Morgan. The video for his most recent single “Girl Ridin’ Shotgun,” which features cameo appearances from such superstars as Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Toby Keith, Lee Brice, Tim McGraw, and Keith Urban has amassed well over 7 million views on Youtube.
With chart-toppers like “Pickup Man,” “Third Rock from the Sun,” and “John Deere Green,” and 13 albums and over 20 Top 10 singles to his credit, Joe has little to prove at this point in his career, yet he still has a fire in his belly to make good country music. A renowned songwriter in his own right, Joe has hits for artists like Tim McGraw, Conway Twitty, and Jo Dee Messina to his credit.
Joe Diffie is a Grammy and ACM award-winner. He is a member of the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame and has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry for over 20 years.
Excerpt taken from the offical Joe Diffie website biography.