Every once in a while, it seems like Ray Benson is suddenly everywhere. Monday found him at Waterloo Records, in a rare non-guitar-playing role because of recent shoulder surgery, leading an abbreviated Asleep at the Wheel lineup through a few holiday songs from their new yuletide album “Lone Star Christmas Night.” Tuesday at the Erwin Center, he got a couple of shoutouts from Dolly Parton, who lamented during her stellar concert that she never got to kiss Ray when she shot the TV movie “Wild Texas Wind” with him in Austin a few decades ago.
And now there’s news of a fresh collaboration with honky-tonker Dale Watson. Their first album together, “Dale & Ray,” is set for a Jan. 6 release. They’ve set up a Facebook page that includes a short-and-silly video, which reveals the record will include a Willie Nelson song alongside many tunes the two longtime pals wrote together.
Watson, too, is omnipresent around town this month. In addition to his regular Monday residency at the Continental Club, he’s at the Broken Spoke this Saturday, Dec. 10, and at the Highball on Dec. 15. And on Dec. 14 at Palmer Events Center, he helps kick off the first day of the annual Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, which Benson and Asleep at the Wheel also will play on Dec. 23.
READ MORE: 2015 feature story on Dale Watson
Before Parton’s show on Tuesday, Benson, who turned 65 this year, was out at Austin Bergstrom International Airport to help celebrate the airport’s 10,000th live music performance. Airport concessionaire Delaware North, which presents the performances at a restaurant bearing Benson’s name, presented at $10,000 check to the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians at the event.
Though the airport shows are behind the security gates and thus generally accessible only to travelers, they’ve played an important role in the local music community, providing steady, decent-paying gigs to hundreds of Austin acts over the years.
READ MORE: 2015 feature story on Ray Benson