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4x4 Four Minutes, Four Questions Ray Benson

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The country/western swing music of Grammy Award-winning group Asleep at the Wheel will fill The Auditorium in Eureka Springs at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17. Band leader and founding member Ray Benson answered these questions for What's Up! in advance of the show:

Q. Tell me about AATW's role in keeping Western swing a "living, breathing art form?"

A. We've been called the "Post Modern Kings of Western Swing," revivalists etc. ... For me, it's about playing a style of music that we love to play, honoring the past and making sure future generations know about this style of music. In the past five years, I've seen a huge increase in young Western swing bands, or bands that play songs within the style, so that makes me feel good to think that maybe we did our part in passing it on, and that others will keep the torch going.

Q. What is important to you now as an artist, and your hopes for your music, versus when you were first starting out?

A. I don't think my goals have changed musically; it's always been for the band to record and play to the best of its ability -- for us to keep trying new things and getting better. I'd say the main difference now is having 48 years of experience and knowledge in this business, and being able to be more focused on what the goal is, and being better at my craft to make sure we achieve it.

Q. What do you think are some judgments people make about this music or about the group that aren't true?

A. Sometimes I think people expect it to be more hoedown fiddle tunes, but Western swing to us is blues, jazz, Dixieland, country all wrapped into one. There are no rules and that is why we enjoy playing this music.

Q. Will we get to hear any of the new material you have coming this year at your performance in Eureka Springs?

A. Yeah! We are playing tunes from the new record we've been recording. It'll be coming out around August. Real excited about showcasing the new lineup.

Tickets are $20-$40 at 253-7788 or theaud.org.

-- Jocelyn Murphy

jmurphy@nwadg.com

NAN What's Up on 02/11/2018

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