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Asleep at the Wheel

Legendary country band Asleep at the Wheel presents a can't-miss concert in the St. Croix Casino Danbury Event Center on Saturday, April 14. Show time is 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m.Tickets are $15 or $10 with a St. Croix Perks card. Tickets go on sale on March 14. Call 1-800-238-8946 for tickets.

Can a wheel reinvent itself while itís still rolling?

Sounds like an impossible task -- but you never want to say ďimpossibleĒ to Asleep at the Wheel, the famed western-swing, boogie, and roots-music outfit thatís, amazingly, still on the upswing. Thatís saying something, too, considering the groupís been around for nearly 40 years, turning out an incredible 25+ albums while playing an unrelenting schedule of one-nighters that would make a vaudevillian dizzy.

And even as the Wheel rolled on, the reinvention had begun. You could see and hear it in their live shows, where new vocalist Elizabeth McQueen invited comparison with the classic female vocalists of the bandís earlier era, and fiddler-singer Jason Roberts gave the band a second male lead voice to complement Wheel founder and front man Ray Bensonís immediately identifiable baritone.

These days, the reinvented Wheel is also rolling down a couple of new avenues. One involves the critically acclaimed musical play, A Ride With Bob, which stars Benson as himself encountering the ghost of Bob Wills on a tour bus, Roberts as the young Wills, and McQueen as Minnie Pearl and other famed entertainment figures, with the rest of the band members featured as well. Originally designed as a one-off celebration of Willsí 100th birthday in í05, A Ride With Bob quickly took on a life of its own and, notes Benson, ďitís absolutely a part of what we do now.Ē Another success has been the adaptation of the Wheelís repertoire for pops symphony. Performances with Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth and Amarillo symphonies have drawn record crowds.

The Wheelís new look is also spotlighted in several new discs, including Reinventing the Wheel, a 12-cut celebration of American Ė particularly Southwestern Ė music, and  illie and the Wheel; a collaboration with Willie Nelson.

So, whether your next encounter with Asleep at the Wheel is at a dance or concert, or backing up Willie Nelson via the new disc, or at a live production of A Ride with Bob, youíll be witnessing something very special -- a band thatís not only been entertaining audiences with its own genre-busting music for four decades, but also a group thatís never been afraid to try something new -- including a reinvention, inspired by the past, that rolls joyously toward a long and shining future.


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The St. Croix Chippewa welcome guests 21 and older. Family friendly dining for all ages.