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Country music band Asleep at the Wheel will take the stage on Friday, Sept. 29, at 7:30 p.m. in East Central University’s Ataloa Theatre of the Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center.

The venerable Western swing band has been performing since 1970 and has won 10 Grammy Awards and released over 20 albums. Their highest-charting single “The Letter That Johnny Walker Read,” peaked at No. 10 in 1975, with their next highest being “House of Blue Lights” at No. 17 in 1987 (reached No. 12 on the Canadian charts).

Advanced tickets are $25. Fine Arts season membership passes are still available for $63, which not only includes Asleep at the Wheel, but three other featured performances: Perpetual Motion Dance on No. 9; Broadway Tonite Live! on Jan. 19 and Pirate School on March 1.

Formed in Paw Paw, West Virginia and based in Austin, Texas, Asleep at the Wheel has kept the Western swing sound alive, inspired by the legendary godfather Bob Wills.

The group has gone through numerous personnel changes, but 6-foot, 7-inch frontman and singer/guitarist Ray Benson has kept it together for four decades. He formed the group, along with longtime friend Lucky Oceans (born Reuben Gosfield; steel guitar) and Leroy Preston (rhythm guitar) They soon added a female singer in Chris O’Connell.

Currently traveling as an eight-piece band, Asleep at the Wheel added Katie Shore (fiddle, vocals), Dennis Ludiker (fiddle, mandolin) and Connor Forsyth (keyboard, vocals) in 2016.

Initially, the group played straight-ahead country in local venues, but quickly switched to Western swing when they discovered the music through the legendary Merle Haggard, specifically by way of Haggard’s Bob Wills tribute album, and eclectic country-rockers Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen.

Among other awards presented to Asleep at the Wheel are Best Country and Western Band by Rolling Stone, Touring Band of the Year by the Academy of Country Music and Lifetime Achievement Award by the Americana Music Association.

The band has toured with such greats as Haggard, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Bob Dylan, George Strait, Lyle Lovett, Ray Price, Alice Cooper and more.

To purchase tickets, go online to Arts or call 580-559-5751. Tickets may also be purchased by going to the box office in the Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center, Monday-Friday, from 2 p.m.-4 p.m. or one hour before the start of the show. Tickets may be picked up at the will call window on the night of the show.

The 2017-18 ECU Fine Arts Season sponsors are Vision Bank, Hampton Inn and Suites, Communication Federal Credit Union, The Ada News. Score Broadcasting, Papa John’s, Citizen’s Bank, Santa Fe Cattle Co., Biggie’s Tanning and Laundry, LaQuinta Inns and Suites and Chicken Express.

Those with season memberships can present their membership card at Santa Fe Steakhouse and get a 10 percent discount on the night of the show.


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