Asleep at the Wheel gets comfy in Fort Worth

Posted Sunday, Jun. 29, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

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Austin sextet Asleep at the Wheel returned to Fort Worth Sunday for its second Tarrant County performance in less than a month at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens. (The Western swing act opened for George Strait at AT&T Stadium earlier this month.)

The scene: A warm, windy summer evening made this installment of the ongoing Concerts in the Garden series downright delightful. Families and couples enjoyed dining al fresco, and once the band fired up, participating in enthusiastic jitterbugging and two-stepping on the strip of asphalt separating the table seating.

The music: As sharp as ever, it was impossible to discern Ray Benson and company are in the midst of a transitional moment, as Fort Worth native Katie Holmes has joined the group on fiddle, replacing long-time fiddler Jason Roberts, who amicably departed the Wheel earlier this year. The sparkling renditions of staples such as “Miles and Miles of Texas” and “Don't Fence Me In” scarcely betrayed the shift in personnel, anchored as always by Benson's bourbon-smooth baritone.

The highlights: Holmes acquitted herself well in her debut Fort Worth performance with Asleep at the Wheel — and endured some good-natured ribbing from Benson (“I know the name is familiar; she escaped from Scientology jail.”). It's easy to take an act like Wheel (and the music they make) for granted, but on a night like this, it was all but impossible to disagree with Benson's assessment early on: “This is beginning to feel like home.”

Preston Jones, 817-390-7713 Twitter: @prestonjones

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