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.)
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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.