Signs of summer are plentiful, including the irresistible sounds of Asleep at the Wheel, the Grammy-winning Austin band and faithful protectors of Bob Wills’ legacy.
The Ray Benson-led collective, eight strong spread across the stage at Sunday’s Concerts in the Garden performance at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, makes history feel timeless, inspiring more than a few in the audience to step onto the pavement separating the rows of tables and knock out a two-step.
During a roughly hour-long set, split by a 20-minute intermission, Benson and his bandmates — including Fort Worth native and fiddler Katie Shore, who enthusiastically greeted her family and friends in the audience — worked through the familiar but satisfying Asleep at the Wheel set list: Cherokee Maiden, Miles and Miles of Texas, San Antonio Rose, Faded Love, I Hear You Talking.
(The near-constant plugs for last year’s sprawling tribute to Wills, Still the King, the Wheel’s latest LP, grew a bit wearisome, but let’s pretend it’s enthusiasm, instead of commerce, spurring so many reminders.)
The sweet swing of the rhythm section, punctuated by Benson’s subterranean baritone, coupled with the cloudless sky, mercifully agreeable temperatures and the relaxed atmosphere made Sunday’s showcase feel like a big backyard gathering, a sure sign that summer has arrived.