Another incredible outcome of the show was the reunion of the entire group of guys collectively known as "The 80's band." This was the band that Dave was a part of. And in someways, I think he considers these guys his real "Asleep at the Wheel." The guys in this band were Tim Alexander on piano, Larry Franklin on fiddle, John Ely on steel, Michael Francis on sax, Jon Mitchell on bass and Dave on drums.
Dave joined Asleep at the Wheel in 1986 when he was 25 years old. At the time, the band was in a bit of a slump. They hadn't put out a record in a while, things were kind of slow in the big-time department. And then they recorded "10." And suddenly the band was back on top again. "House of Blues Lights" was a certifiable hit in some markets. The record also had "Way Down Texas Way" and "Boogie Back to Texas."
This was exciting stuff for a young Dave Sanger, who basically walked into the time of his life. Remember the show in Portland I told you about on the last trip? The one where the band was greeted by a mighty roar when we walked onstage, and where the crowd inspired us with their enthusiasm and dancing skills? As we were walking offstage that night Dave told me, "That's how it used to be all the time." And by used to be, he meant back in the 80's, with the 80's band.
To see these guys all in one place was to see a group of happy men, and to hear them all together was to hear the most rock and roll version of the Wheel that I've ever encountered. I mean, they blew me away. I was Gone Solid Gone.
The show itself went exceptionally well, in my opinion. Like all good events preceded by intense anticipation, it flew right by me. Within an hour and a half they had gone through the many stages of Asleep at the Wheel. There had been steel guitar extravaganzas and huge fiddle parties. And then the current band plus three horn players and a guest bass player was up on stage backing up Willie Nelson. As if the night hadn't been cool enough. It was a thrill added to a night of thrills.
By the end of Friday, November 5th I was as tired as I've ever been. It had been a week of rehearsals and more rehearsals...In fact, I haven't rehearsed so much since the early days of "A Ride with Bob." My feet were killing me. My back ached. I was done. Dave and I made a valiant attempt to attend the after-party but left after 10 minutes when we realized we were literally too pooped to party. But we were happy. And we knew that we had just been a part of something incredible. (My friend Jeremy Tepper says my blog posts are always along the lines of "I'm so effing tired, but it's all worth it!." This one's for you Jeremy!).