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45-years after writing my first song and after waiting 51 years to


45-years after writing my first song and after waiting 51 years to

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									RAY BENSON – BIO Beyond Time marks a new highlight in the career of Ray Benson, whose 30-plus years as a musician have been packed with a string of highlights. 45 years after writing his first song, Beyond Time, his first solo album, defines a new personal depth as a writer, a singer and an interpreter of a wide range of musical influences he has explored all these years. Hailed as the post-modern King of Western Swing, Ray Benson is the nine-time GRAMMY™-winning leader of Asleep at the Wheel. Having won GRAMMYs™ in each of the last four decades over the band's legendary run in the music business, and working with the likes of Bob Dylan, George Strait and the Dixie Chicks, the Wheel has become a Texas institution, which is literally true now that Benson has been designated the “2004 Texas State Musician” by the Texas House of Representatives. No one has ever questioned Benson‟s commitment to Asleep at the Wheel. No one has questioned his talent either, but then again what we know is purely in the context of the Wheel, a freewheeling, western swinging, good-time band of the first order. Might his voice also fit in a classic jazz setting? Can he write a song about complex modern issues? Ray clearly has some tricks up his sleeve that he‟s been in no hurry to play. As he says, “45 years after writing my first song and after waiting 51 years to record my first solo CD, here it is! Who‟s singing? Who‟s playing guitar? Who wrote that song? This is what I hear when I play people the cuts from this new album.” It might surprise that a musician known for nearly single-handedly reviving the songs of Bob Wills would make an album such as Beyond Time that contains almost entirely selfpenned songs and is this diverse. But Ray has an explanation: “I know that these songs are „all over the map,‟ but it‟s what I hear in my head and what flows through my fingers as I create. I learned to play and write music listening to the treasure trove of 100 years of recorded music and find it hard to ignore any of it: jazz, blues, country-western, singersongwriter and pop. I love it all! After all, we‟re just dealin‟ with 12 notes and a language of words and poetry!” Poetry? Isn‟t Ray that 6‟7” cowboy who sings about “Big Balls in Cowtown?” In fact, Ray‟s story is comprised of a surprising range of textures that makes this ersatz collection perhaps more true to his life than any of his previous works. Raised in Philadelphia, PA in the 1950s, he started singing folk songs in a family band. By college, he began to discover the good stuff. Describing his inspiration for the one instrumental track on Beyond Time, called “Ain‟t Chet Yet,” Ray explains, “I went to Antioch College in 1969 and learned a lot that year. I mostly learned to fingerpick the guitar from John Fahey, Stephan Grossman and old country blues records. As I progressed, I studied Merle Travis and Chet Atkins as best I could and I am still in awe of these and all great fingerpickers.” (MORE)

And, because Asleep at the Wheel has worked with nearly everyone in the business, you‟d expect quite a guest list here. Will it be the Dixie Chicks again, or Willie, or Emmylou? In fact, Ray took a different approach this time, letting the songs lead the way. With “Mary Anne,” an instant Texas blues classic, “I had the basic song written and started playing it live on stage,” recalls Benson. “When I went to record the track, I called my old pal Jimmie Vaughan and asked him to play guitar. Mike Judge took time out from King of the Hill to play slapping bass, and Chris Layton and Riley Osbourn gave it that funky feel I was looking for.” “Hands of Time” is another instant winner. Ray divulges a few secrets: “I was exploring a minor key for this song as it imparts a bittersweet tone to this notion. The style and groove I tried to create here was one somewhere in between Bill Withers, The Crusaders, and Steely Dan.” Serendipity again knocked as Ray was finishing the track. An Austin friend happened to bring by noted jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan for a visit, who fifteen minutes later was pulling out his guitar to join in. “The addition of Stanley Jordan was divine!” says Ray. “Thanx, fate, for bringing me Stanley!” Delbert McClinton could not have been a more perfect, soulful addition to the hurt in “Clearing Up To Be Cloudy.” Flaco Jimenez brings the one cover of the record, “El Paso,” back to its rightful norteño home. And who can resist Dolly Parton, joining in a reprieve of “Leave That Cowboy Alone,” a song she and Ray co-wrote for the film Wild Texas Wind. But the undisputed heavyweight championship masterpiece of Beyond Time is “Sorry.” Those words delivered by THAT voice stun you the very first time it meets your ears. You do indeed catch yourself asking, “Who‟s singing? Who wrote that song?” Later, you notice the exquisite arrangement of strings and horns and the details of the craft. Ray has a simple explanation that could only make sense to someone who‟s explored this music from so many different angles: “I wrote this tune in one sitting and when I revisited it to record I decided to do it as if Patsy Cline had hired Nelson Riddle to arrange it for her and The Count Basie Band!” Everyone‟s enjoyed Ray Benson at the helm of Asleep at the Wheel for 33 years. And now there is this unexpected windfall from Ray defining a new personal depth as a writer, a singer and an interpreter of the musical styles he has explored all these years. Beyond Time is the start of a whole new musical trip for Ray Benson, one as expansive as the man who‟s become as much a part of the Texas landscape as he is a Philly boy, a Paw Paw, West Virginian, a San Francisco Bay-heymanian and a musician who carries himself with dignity, whether he‟s doing an R&B Foundation board dinner, a Willie Nelson picnic or points in between. Climb onboard. Or, as Ray says, “Hope ya‟ll enjoy it as much as I did making it. Because don‟t worry, there‟s plenty more where that came from!” Ray Benson – Beyond Time – Audium Records – Release Date: June 24, 2003 Publicity: Mark Pucci Media (770) 804-9555 / email:

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