By Joshua Wallace
Asleep At The Wheel
This past Tuesday night on December 18th, 2018 I was fortunate enough to catch Asleep At The Wheel live at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. This was my first time seeing Asleep At The Wheel live and I was blown away by this show. Their tight musicianship and all around great showmanship make this one of the best live bands I have seen in country music. The band has been around for 48.5 years, and even with tons of lineup changes during this time, Asleep At The Wheel is still a force to be reckoned with live. This show was a Christmas themed show and the majority of the first hour was hits selected from their catalog of Christmas tunes. They still hit everything you would expect them to in a close to two hour set that had the crowd singing, clapping and dancing along.
Jay Reynolds on saxophone with Eddie Rivers taking a break from pedal steel on the band’s second saxophone
Ray Benson getting the crowd going during “Christmas In Jail”
There was no opening act this evening and Asleep At The Wheel took the stage at approximately 8pm. They got right into it with hits like “Route 66” and the classic Waylon Jennings tune “Bob Wills Is Still The King” and “San Antonio Rose” by Bob Wills himself. The Christmas portion of the show took up most of the first hour and contained many Christmas traditional tunes along with some original Christmas tunes like “Christmas In Jail”. They also did renditions of “Silent Night”, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”, “Feliz Navidad” and others. Pedal steel player Eddie Rivers even took the mic for a great rendition of “Blue Christmas”.
Eddie Rivers singing “Blue Christmas”
Katie Shore on vocals during “Call It A Day Tonight”
Speaking of band members taking the mic, fiddle player Katie Shore had her share of lead vocal performances throughout the night. However, a highlight for me was her duet with Ray on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” which had a playful back and forth that just can’t be captured in the studio and must be heard live. She also had turns with lead vocals on “Call It A Day Tonight”, “Jack, I’m Mellow” and the Hawaiian Christmas tune “Mele Kalikimaka”. Katie is the perfect vocal compliment to Ray’s deeper voice and it’s easy to see why she was heavily featured on the band’s New Routes album. Speaking of that album, the band closed off the regular set about an hour and thirty minutes in with a jamming rendition of “Seven Nights To Rock”. They did come back for an encore which included the likes of “Big Balls In Cowtown”, “All My Exes Live In Texas” and “Choo Choo Ch’ Boogie”.
Overall, the band performed a great nearly two hour set that closed out before 10pm which is good for a weeknight. I highly recommend checking out Asleep At The Wheel if they come through your area. Asleep At The Wheel do come through Florida every now and then, but I have not had the chance to see them live before now and I’m very glad I did. Asleep At The Wheel tours nonstop and you can check out their dates to see if they are coming near you on the band’s website.