Beans & Wheels
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Beans & Wheels

Saint George, Utah, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013

Saint George, Utah, United States
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Folk Americana




"Asleep at the Wheel to bring the Texas swing"

Originally scheduled for August, the legendary western swing band Asleep at the Wheel has a new concert date for St. George on Nov. 16 at Dixie State University’s Cox Auditorium.

With more than four decades of history as one of the premier western swing bands in the nation, the Austin-based Asleep at the Wheel has garnered a number of Grammy Awards and has collaborated with other legendary artists like Willie Nelson as they strive to keep the spirit of Texas swing alive.

The Spectrum & Daily News spoke with Wheel frontman Ray Benson back in August before the St. George concert was rescheduled.

Benson says much of what they do is influenced by the music of late western swing pioneer Bob Wills, who died in 1975.

“We’ve based a lot of our musical decisions on keeping that music going and playing that music for the public and our own enjoyment,” Benson says.

Through the years the Wheel has recorded multiple tributes to Wills. The band’s final tribute is due in February and features a number of collaborators, including Nelson, Merle Haggard, Brad Paisley, Vince Gill, Old Crow Medicine Show and Amos Lee.

The band even created a musical theater tribute to Wills called “A Ride With Bob” for the 100th anniversary of Wills’ birth in 2005. After performing “A Ride With Bob” for eight years, the Wheel recently put the musical to bed, but Benson says it was a “good run.”

Now Asleep at the Wheel concerts simply focus on the music. Benson says the atmosphere of his band’s concerts always depend on the audience and the venue but one thing remains constant: “It’s good for dancing.”

The band’s lineup has changed frequently through the years and has included dozens of musicians. But Benson has remained a constant. Despite the changes, the Wheel is not a solo project.

“It’s a band,” Benson says. “That’s what it’s all about — working with each other. It’s always a collaboration.”

The Wheel has multiple vocalists, including Benson, fiddler Katie Holmes and the band’s newest member, pianist Emily Gimble.

“They’re wonderful singers and great players,” Benson says of Holmes and Gimble.

While Nashville is known as Music City and the spiritual center of country music, the band’s home base, Austin, is often called the Live Music Capital of the World. Benson says Austin’s vibrant live music scene benefits from the great support of its residents.

Nelson also calls Austin home, which has led to collaborations between the Wheel and the Red-Headed Stranger.

“He’s just one of my best friends,” Benson says of Nelson. “That’s an honor I’m very proud of. We’ve been friends for 40 years.”

Concert promoter Darin Piccoli says he is excited to work with such a legendary band for the Nov. 16 show. Piccoli has been involved with other high-profile concerts at DSU, including last year’s Clint Black show and last month’s Phillip Phillips concert. The promoter says the Wheel’s signature blend of traditional country and rockabilly swing is a unique sound that personifies the western United States.

Opening for Asleep at the Wheel will be local Americana duo Beans & Wheels.

“We are thrilled,” says Audrey “Beans” Sizemore, of the chance to open for the Wheel. “They’re legendary within their genre.”

Sizemore and musical partner Greg “Wheels” Wheeler are both excited for concert, which will be their first time opening for a nationally known act. Joining them on stage will be a few frequent collaborators: singer Sarah Walther, bassist Kevin Till and drummer Gordon Strang. They also hope to add keyboards and an additional guitar player to broaden the sound.

While many local Beans & Wheels shows feature a heavy dose of cover songs, from Johnny Cash to Tom Petty, their opening slot performance will focus on the duo’s original compositions. In fact, those songs are the reason they snagged the gig. Sizemore says Asleep at the Wheel approved them as an opening act based on original songs from Beans & Wheels’ ReverbNation site.

The Cox Auditorium at DSU’s Cox Performing Arts Center is also the largest venue the band has played, aside from local music festivals like Groovefest.

“We’re still kind of pinching ourselves,” Sizemore says.

The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16 at the Cox Performing Arts Center, near the intersection of 400 South and 700 East in St. George. Tickets are $20-35. Visit or to order or call the DSU Box Office at 435-652-7800. Tickets from the performance originally scheduled for Aug. 28 will be honored. - The Spectrum


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