Philadelphia freedom

PhillyAs Ray Benson puts it in “Comin’ Right at Ya,” the great thing about his band Asleep at the Wheel not really fitting in anywhere is that they can kind of fit in everywhere. So it is that over the decades, Asleep at the Wheel has performed alongside everything from symphony orchestras to leaf players (read the book’s closing Epilogue for more on the fine art of leaf-playing with a Western swing band).

Ray also frequently finds himself in highly eclectic company, especially today. Monday afternoon, Ray was inducted into the Music Walk of Fame in his original hometown of Philadelphia alongside fellow Philly natives Billie Holiday, the late great jazz singer; Cinderella, a band that had its peak of popularity during the ’80s hair-metal era; theatrical singer Andrea McArdle, best-known for her teenage star turns as “Annie” on Broadway; disco group The Trammps, of “Disco Inferno” fame; and hip-hop rock band The Roots, who serve as house band for Jimmy Fallon nowadays but who I will always remember most fondly for the killer version of “Sweet Child o’ Mine” I saw them break out at the Hopscotch Music Festival a few years back.

Asleep at the Wheel is pretty much the only group I could imagine plausibly sharing a stage with everyone on that list (even Cinderella). And in the righthand photo below from the ceremony, there Ray is seated in the vicinity of Roots drummer/philosopher Amir Questlove Thompson. I would not be a bit surprised if it were to emerge later that Ray took this opportunity to sign up The Roots for another Bob Wills tribute project.


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