A unique opportunity to enjoy a private dinner, concert, and conversations with the great western swing musician, Ray Benson. This dinner concert show is, like the concert with Ray's full band on July 29, a fund raising benefit effort for Mountain Entertainment for the Arts, a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization. It will feature Ray and a couple of the band members to accompany him on stage. All ages are admitted to this concert but seating is very limited. All 80 reserved seats are $125.00.
Meet and greet Ray with cocktails and seating at 5:00 PM. Prime Rib and lobster tail dinner served at 6:30 PM. Cocktails, beer and wine are extra. Concert starts around 7:30 PM with conversation time after concert. Don't miss this opportunity to honor a national treasure and a Texas music legend.
About Ray Benson:
From the 1970s onward, few if any artists have done more to keep the sound and spirit of classic western swing alive than Ray Benson. While Ray has long been the sole constant member of AATW, he's occasionally made time in his busy schedule to cut solo albums and collaborate with like-minded friends. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Ray grew up with an eclectic taste in music, with a special appreciation for jazz. Benson was attending Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio when a friend and fellow student, Ed Ward, brought the band Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen to campus to play a concert. Benson and his friend and fellow Antioch student Gene Dobkin were knocked out by Commander Cody's fusion of old-school country, western swing, and freak-friendly rock. As Benson was awakened to the possibilities of vintage Western sounds, he and Dobkin decided to form a band. Teaming up with Floyd Domino, Lucky Oceans, Leroy Preston, and Chris O'Connell, they formed Asleep at the Wheel, and after months of rehearsal in Paw Paw, West Virginia, they started playing out. While the group followed Commander Cody to California and landed their first record deal there after Van Morrison praised the group in Rolling Stone magazine, Asleep at the Wheel truly found their home when they were booked to play the Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin, Texas in 1973. Benson and his bandmates fell in love with the city, and a local musician named Willis Nelson suggested they should stay. With time, Asleep at the Wheel became an Austin institution and one of country's most indefatigable acts, constantly criss-crossing the country, winning several Grammy awards, and sharing stages with everyone from Bob Dylan to George Strait as Benson became their sole constant member. Over the years, more than 80 musicians made their way through the lineup. Meanwhile, Benson became a behind-the-scenes figure of note in Texas, opening a recording studio (Bismeaux Studios) and an affiliated record label, co-founding the Rhythm & Blues Foundation, sitting on the board of directors of the TV show Austin City Limits, and hosting another show, Texas Music Scene. In 2003, after releasing nearly 20 albums with Asleep at the Wheel, Benson cut his first solo effort, Beyond Time. Benson released a second solo album, A Little Piece, in 2014, and 2015 saw the publication of Comin' Right at Ya, an autobiography Benson wrote in tandem with David Menconi. In 2017, Benson teamed up with another Lone Star roots music traditionalist, Dale Watson, to release the duo album Dale &Ray.
About Mountain Entertainment for the Arts:
MOUNTAIN ENTERTAINMENT GROUP FOR THE ARTS (“MEGA”), an IRS 503(c)(3) & New Mexico Nonprofit Corporation, was organized in 2014 in Ruidoso, NM as the successor to the Ruidoso Chamber Music Festival when that group dissolved after its original leaders moved. MEGA has continued to present classical music performances, but has increased both the variety of those performances and their locations, always working to keep costs down in order to reach many more Lincoln County's residents and visitors.
To further reach out to more people, MEGA expanded the types of musical and performance arts offered to include, for example, Native American, Blues, Jazz, Rock, Bluegrass and Country Music, as well as Dance, and also works cooperatively with other music and arts groups in surrounding communities. Sponsored performances have included Sean Chen, a prize-winning pianist from the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition; the Piazzolla da Camera Trio; master classical guitarist Hector Garcia; local, regional and nationally-renowned blues, rock, and jazz groups, as well as talented local high school singer-songwriters.
In keeping with MEGA's mandate to make a large variety of excellent performances available to the largest possible audience, the price of admission has been kept low (sometimes free, with voluntary contributions accepted). As a result, MEGA nearly always subsidizes the true costs of the performances. However, with careful stewardship of its funds, only once in its four years has MEGA needed to organize a fundraising event--but now, for only the second time, that has become a necessity so its good work can continue to benefit our community.