By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
State opens concert season with Asleep at the Wheel
Placeholder Image

MODESTO - The Modesto State Theatre kicks off the 2012-12 concert season next Friday night with Western swing band Asleep At The Wheel.

The Friday, Aug. 24, show, tickets are $28, $35, and $40. Doors open at 7 p.m. with the show at 8 p.m.

Ray Benson, a tall, tall man (6-foot-7 to be exact), and an immediately  identifiable baritone, formed the Asleep at the Wheel in Paw Paw, West Virginia, in 1970 and played his first “big show” opening for Alice Cooper and Hot Tuna. Shortly thereafter the western-swing, boogie and roots music outfit moved to California at the invitation of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen. Van Morrison helped get the band  its first record deal by mentioning them in an interview in Rolling Stone magazine.  By 1973, Asleep at the Wheel was quickly rolling along and they’ve never stopped, or even slowed down, in the more than 40 years since their 1973 debut album Comin’ Right At Ya. 

At the invitation of Willie Nelson and Doug Sahm, their next move was to Austin, Texas, where the famed band still calls home. The roster of the band’s nearly 90 past and present members includes many of the finest musicians in the business, many of whom have gone on to perform and record with artists such as Bob Dylan, George Straight, Rod Stewart, Van Morrison and Ryan Adams. Twenty-five feature albums later, Ray and the band are still performing to a still-growing fan base at sold-out shows across the U.S.


Rick Derringer

Friday, Sept. 7

Doors at 7; show at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $25, $30 and $35

When Rick Derringer was just 17, his band, The McCoys, recorded the No. 1 hit “Hang On Sloopy” and in the summer of 1965 managed to knock “Yesterday” by The Beatles off the top spot on the charts. In 1969, after four years of touring with the McCoys, Rick merged his talents with Johnny Winter forming Johnny Winter And (“And” referred to The McCoys). Rick went on to produce Johnny’s “Still Alive and Well” album and played and produced Winter’s hit album “They Only Come Out At Night,” featuring “Free Ride,” and the Grammy-nominated hit “Frankenstein.” Since then, he’s worked with Alice Cooper, Richie Havens, Todd Rundgren, Steely Dan, Cyndi Lauper, Barbra Streisand, Kiss, Mason Ruffner, Madam X and Weird Al Yankovich. Derringer went on to produce Grammy-winning albums and videos for Yankovich, including the Michael Jackson parodies, “Who’s Fat,” and the No. 1 hit “Eat It,” Yankovic’s most successful recordings. Nearly 50 years after he got his start, Derringer is still deserving of the title “guitar great” that he earned over one of music’s most illustrious and enduring careers.


Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks

Saturday, Oct. 6

Doors at 7; show at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $20, $25 and $30

Bette Midler called Dan Hicks “Lightening in a bottle.” Tom Waits dubbed him “fly, sly, wily and dry.” No matter what you call him, if you’ve heard and seen Mr. Hicks and his Hot Licks before, you’ll want to buy your tickets now to his first concert at The State in years. If you haven’t seen him, all we can say is, “Where have you been?” Hicks is a great American songwriter (“I Scare Myself,” “It’s Not My Time to Go”...) and he’s an irresistible entertainer with a massive body of work behind him that includes collaborations with such legendary artists as Midler, Waits, Elvis Costello, Brian Setzer, Willie Nelson and Jimmy Buffet. Hicks is all attitude, swagger and outlaw eccentricity plus, he has a totally unique sound. His counter-culture appeal, which has twice landed him on the cover of Rolling Stone, has always been rooted in his songwriting. His lyrics have been touted as some of the sharpest-tongued, driest-witted, and subtly hilarious bits of irreverence ever committed to rhyme. His latest CD, Tangled Tales, is yet another work of genius featuring a world-class collection of musical talent including instrumental virtuosos David Grisman, Charlie Musselwhite, and slide guitarist Roy Rogers. More than 40 years after he got his start, Hicks is still setting his lyrical gems to quirky tunes, the girls are jumping and the band is still smokin’ hot.


Leo Kottke

Friday, Oct. 12

Doors at 7; show at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $32, $35 and $38

Innovative acoustic guitar virtuoso Leo Kottke absorbed a variety of musical influences as a child, flirting with both violin and trombone, before abandoning Stravinsky-- “I haven’t been that hip since”-- for the guitar at age 11. His 1971 major-label debut, “Mudlark,” positioned him somewhat uneasily as a singer/songwriter, despite his own wishes to remain an instrumental performer. Still, Kottke flourished during his tenure on Capitol, as records like 1972’s “Greenhouse” and 1973’s live “My Feet Are Smiling” and “Ice Water” found him branching out with guest musicians and unusual song covers. He’s still a popular performer today, singing folk, rock, jazz and bluegrass, and he still amazes audiences with his propulsive finger-picking mastery. Kottke has worked with Lyle Lovett, Phish and Rickie Lee Jones.


For online ticket sales go to To purchase your tickets by phone call The State Box Office at 209-527-4697 from noon to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. If still available, tickets may also be purchased the night of the event up to the start of the presentation.