Michael Hepworth


HOLLYWOOD (Perfect Music Today) 2/9/20/–The tenth annual Feed The Peace Award dinner event in Austin is set for Sunday, February 23 at the Four Seasons Hotel with Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson named recipient of The Nobelity Project’s highest honor.  The fundraising dinner at which Benson will be fêted coincides with the ongoing 50th anniversary celebration of the band’s founding and is offered in tribute to Benson’s support for the foundation’s critical work in building stronger communities through increasing access to education, improved quality of learning, expanding opportunity and creating connections to the world we share. With the motto “local acts have global impacts,” Nobelity has been active in its Austin base as well as in Kenya, Honduras, Mexico and elsewhere.

Benson has attended just about all of the previous Feed The Peace Award dinners, including the initial one honoring Willie Nelson who coined the phrase “feed the peace.” Other FTP Award recipients have included Kris Kristofferson, Little Steven Van Zandt, Ben Harper, Dan Rather, Delbert McClinton and Jerry Jeff Walker.  This year Ray will, in essence, sing for his supper as Asleep at the Wheel is set to perform as well as Kat Edmonson, Joe Ely and Marcia Ball.  Notes Turk Pipkin, Nobelity Project’s founder, “The award goes to Ray in recognition of his 50 amazing years with Asleep at the Wheel, and for his long and consistent dedication to issues that matter and nonprofits that do great work.”

Ray Benson commented on his having been named recipient of the Feed The Peace Award, “I am very humbled to receive this honor!  Having known Turk and been aware of his journey over the course of the past 45 years I understand how heartfelt this cause is.  I’ve attended most of the earlier FTP dinners and played at quite a number of them so I know it’s going to be a great night for a great cause.”

Tickets for the event are available through:

It was also revealed this week that Asleep at the Wheel, with the aforementioned honoree calling the shots, will be performing a webcast set on Live From Paste Studio ATL on Thursday, February 13 at 1:30 PM/Eastern.  Click here to view when that time comes or now to set a reminder:

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Asleep at the Wheel’s founding in a cabin on an apple orchard in Paw Paw, West Virginia. Long a fixture on the Austin music scene, the band still led by Ray Benson, is planning a series of events and releases over the course of the coming year to commemorate the milestone.  Members of the band’s original line up – Lucky Oceans, Leroy Preston, Chris O’Connell, Floyd Domino and the eternal Benson – will soon announce a series of Fall 2020 reunion shows in Austin, Nashville, San Francisco and more. It was Lucky Oceans who, after a trip to the outhouse in Paw Paw, came up with the band’s name that would stand them in good stead and become a household name in Americana/Roots circles for the next five decades.  That was, of course, many years before the term “Americana” had even been used to describe a musical movement which AATW spearheaded.

Benson commented, “It’s been an amazing journey and I’m extremely proud to be celebrating 50 years of Asleep at the Wheel! Through all the highs and lows, to still be standing and doing better than ever gives me a great sense of pride. To all the folks who have played with and or worked for the band, and given their time and talents, I can’t thank y’all enough. And to the fans who keep us going, THANK YOU. We wouldn’t have made it 50 years without ya! We’re hoping to see everyone who has made 50 years of AATW possible during our golden anniversary year.”

The band’s first gig as Asleep at the Wheel was as an opener on an improbable concert bill in Washington, DC with Alice Cooper and Hot Tuna.  George Frayne, a/k/a Commander Cody of Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen, suggested AATW relocate to San Francisco Bay area and so they did.  Van Morrison caught them there and mentioned them in a Rolling Stone interview which opened the door to a record contract. They were signed to United Artists and released Comin’ Right At Ya, their album debut, in 1973. Their next move was to Austin, Texas, at the suggestion of Willie Nelson and Doug Sahm, where the band would help start the Cosmic Cowboy scene and tape the first episode of Austin City Limits. Next year they will have come full circle with the Fall release of an AATW reunion album, produced by Buddy Miller, to be titled Still Comin’ Right At Ya, their 32nd career album.  Asleep at the Wheel has earned 10 GRAMMY® Awards, ACM Touring Band of the Year and received the Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

A revolving cast of topflight musicians has powered AATW over the past half century with the band’s alumni now numbering over 100. These include players who have gone on to work with such notables as Bob Dylan, George Strait, Van Morrison, Lyle Lovett and Merle Haggard.  From inception, the band has been modeled and inspired by the eclectic Western swing format pioneered by Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys.  They have released three Bob Wills tribute albums, A Tribute to the Music of Bob WillsRide with Bob and Still the King and Benson’s authoritative commentary on Wills and Western swing was a key component of the Ken Burns PBS Country Music series. It’s noteworthy that, as of now, Asleep At The Wheel has actually been active eleven years longer than Wills & His Texas Playboys.

The AATW 50th celebration is being filmed with a resulting documentary to be released at a later date. A trailer for the film, including commentary from Willie Nelson, Wynonna Judd, Vince Gill, George Strait and Commander Cody can be viewed now:

Looking back over the past 50 years, Ray Benson remarked,  “I’ve been told that I’m relentless, so I guess I am…. I’m just doing what I believe I’m meant to do. My role and concept of leading a band has never changed; it’s gathering the best musicians I can find or convince to play to the best of their ability. I just try and make the best decisions possible and kick some ass every night onstage. I’ve made it this far and don’t feel like I or the band will be slowing down anytime soon.”

Asleep at the Wheel on tour

Feb 5 – Ponte Vedra Beach, FL –  Ponte Vedra Concert Hall

Feb – Homestead, FL – Seminole Theatre

Feb 7 – Sanibel, FL –  Christensen Performing Arts Hall

Feb 9 – Weirsdale, FL – Orange Blossom Opry (2:30 PM)

Feb 9 – Weirsdale, FL  – Orange Blossom Opry (7:30 PM)

Feb 12 – Huntsville, AL –  Mars Music Hall

Feb 13 – Atlanta, GA –  Live At Paste Studio ATL

Feb 13 – Atlanta, GA –  City Winery

Feb 14 – Montgomery, AL –  Montgomery Performing Arts Center

Feb 15 – Abingdon, VA –  Barter Theatre

Feb 23 – Austin, TX – Feed The Peace Awards, Four Seasons Hotel

Feb 29- Fredericksburg, TX –  Luckenbach Texas

Mar 6 – Mt. Pleasant, TX – The Whatley Center

Mar 7 – Eureka Springs, AR -The Auditorium

Mar 14 –  Goliad, TX –  Schroeder Hall

Mar 22 – College Station, TX – Rudder Auditorium

Mar 28 – Richardson, TX – Charles W. Eisemann Center

Apr 3 –  New Braunfels, TX –  Gruene Hall

Apr 4 – New Braunfels, TX –  Gruene Hall

Apr 8 – Alexandria, VA – The Birchmere

Apr 9 – Uncasville, CT –  Wolf Den at Mohegan Sun Resort

Apr 10 – Plymouth, NH – The Flying Monkey

Apr 11 – Fall River, MA – Narrows Center For the Arts

Apr 14 -Buffalo, NY – Sportsmen’s Tavern

Apr 15 – Homer, NY – Center For the Arts of Homer

Apr 16 – Natick, MA –  Center For the Arts In Natick

Apr 17 – Newton, NJ – The Newton Theatre

Apr 24 – Saint Louis, MO – Sheldon Concert Hall

Apr 26 – New Orleans, LA – New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Apr 30 – Stoughton, WI – Stoughton Opera House

May 1 – Stoughton, WI – Stoughton Opera House

May 2 – Hopkins, MN –  Hopkins Center For the Arts

May 3 – Wittenberg, WI – Wittenberg-Birnamwood HS Auditorium

May 29 – Suffolk, UK – Red Rooster Festival, Euston Hall

June 12 – Scottsdale, AZ – Talking Stick Resort

June 26 – Muncie, IN –  Muncie Three Trails Music Series

June 27 – Shipshewana, IN – Blue Gate Performing Arts Center

July 10  – Mount Solon, VA – Red Wing Roots Music Festival

July 12 – Greenfield, MA –  Green River Festival

Sept 6 – Bay Harbor, MI – Great Lakes Center for the Arts

Sept 11- Fort Worth, TX – Bass Performance Hall

Sept 12 – Fort Worth, TX – Bass Performance Hall

Sept 13 – Fort Worth, TX – Bass Performance Hall

Nov 20 –  Wichita, KS – Cotillion Ballroom





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