Saturday Ray Benson showed up at the Iota. Ray is the lead singer with the Western Swing stalwarts Asleep at the Wheel. I've always liked Asleep at the Wheel, but I tend to avoid their shows because they aren't cheap and are rather short. In spite of myself this show really intrigued me. The show was billed as a solo show for Ray and with a start time of 3 in the afternoon. (Iota had a late show too.)
I was a little shocked when I showed up at the club and the cover was $17. In spite of it, I went in and was further surprised to see the club nearly empty. The crowd grew to about two dozen by the show's end.
Ray got up shortly after I arrived. He's a hard one to miss, but I didn't recognize him at first because he was devoid of any western wear. He stood there in a grey suit, Fedora, and, oh, cowboy boots. The songs covered a huge range starting with Mississippi John Hurt. Despite the 'solo' label Ray brought along an upright bass player and a fiddler on his big bus. They joined him on stage after the two song solo opening. They covered tunes from all sorts of great songwriters including Bob Dylan, Bob Wills, Tony Bennett and a fine rendition of 'Bubba' Beethoven's "Ode to Joy". There were also a great many songs of Ray's own including from nearly a half dozen current & upcoming 'Wheel' albums and his solo album.
Despite the empty club the band put on a great show. It was very fun and Ray was very personable on stage and off. The show was nearly two hours, one set plus an encore. Unfortunately nobody danced but there was certainly room for it. It was fun.... where was everyone?