King of Country takes the stage at Ray Benson's Austin birthday bash
BY ANDREW LEAHEY Rolling Stone
This year's SXSW festival hit an early peak on Tuesday night, when Texas Titan George Strait made a surprise appearance at a birthday party celebrating Asleep at the Wheel's 65 year-old frontman, Ray Benson. Performing in a tent behind the office of Austin's GSD&M advertising company, the two singers swapped lyrics during a string of Strait's hits, including "All My Ex's Live in Texas" and "Here for a Good Time."
In the video clip above, they also tackle "Right of Wrong," the old jazz standard that Strait covered — taking a few pointers from Bob Willis' own cover along the way — in 1983. Benson towers above his guest by nearly a foot, but the semi-retired Strait stands tall, crooning the verses with a smile and stepping back from the stage's front whenever an instrumentalist takes a solo. With the crowd surrounding the small stage on three sides, the whole feels like a club gig, albeit with a cameo appearance by one of country music's most arena-ready headliners.
George Strait will return to the world arenas next month, when his Strait to Vegas residency at the Las Vegas Arena makes its debut on April 22nd.