Music documentary

Ray Benson on King Records, documentary by Ken Burns “Country Music”

Ray Benson was Ken Burns’ man to tell the world about the majesty of Bob Wills in particular and Texan music in general.

Benson, frontman of western swing group Asleep at the Wheel, is featured throughout Burns’ recent documentary “Country Music” on PBS. Benson was a pretty obvious choice to talk about Wills, the king of Texan swing, as AATW is the most well-known modern band to perform in the Wills lore.

But Benson’s knowledge of music doesn’t stop at the Texas border. As AATW prepared to head here for a show, Benson shared his thoughts on former Cincinnati record label King Records and recounted how one of King’s biggest R&B stars, Wynonie Harris, indirectly gave a name to one of the Judds (country music duo).

Question: Did the folks at Ken Burns explain to you why they wanted you to be in the documentary? Guess they wanted your take on Bob Wills and Texan swing, but you offered a lot more.

Responnse: That was the start, and they kept asking me questions because they knew I was there at the start of the outlaw thing and I was touring with Willie and Waylon and all. world. And I just kept talking, and I guess they liked what I said.

Question: What do you think of the documentary?

A: Well, this is huge. Right now, I’m getting a lot of feedback from people who thought they weren’t spending enough time on someone, or that they were spending too much time on something. This is what always happens with a Ken Burns documentary. He chooses a huge subject, then takes a point of view, and does it. It was amazing work, incredibly amazing work, and, yes, he left things out because they were only 16 hours old. If he wanted to cover all aspects of country music, it could go on forever.

Question: I’m going to pretend to be the Cincinnati version of Ken Burns and ask you questions about King Records. Was there any country music on King Records that you really enjoyed?

A: The Delmore brothers. Hank Penny. King Records was so important. Syd Nathan was a hell of a character, to say the least. From James Brown to R&B and country music engraved there, it was one of the great founding labels of American music. The Delmore brothers were my favorites and they were mentioned quite well in the documentary, although they didn’t go into details of Alton and Rabon Delmore. What was so amazing about King Records, although it was done from a mercenary perspective by Syd Nathan – the fact that Hank Penny’s “Bloodshot Eyes” was also directed by Wynonie Harris, is pretty amazing. One small detail, which most people don’t know, is that Wynonna Judd was actually named after Wynonie Harris.

Question: What?

A: Yeah, we hung out with them before they were the Judds, and Wynonna’s real name is Christina. We were at the Palomino (a club in California), and we were playing all that Wynonie Harris stuff on the bus, because he was one of the greats, and Naomi said, “Wynonie, you know if you put an A on it. in the end it becomes Wynonna, and I think I’m going to call Christina Wynonna. I had to tell her that because her mom kind of forgot. I had to tell Wynonna, who loves R&B and is a great A full-fledged R&B singer, besides being a great country singer, that genesis is Wynonie Harris.This is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

But the King Records thing – Syd Nathan had the whole publication, and so he said, “Well, I have the publication. We will ask the R&B groups to do it and the country will act to do it. It was rather mercenary, but it made such great music.

If you are going to

What: Asleep at the wheel with the sisters of Quebec

When: 8 p.m. Friday November 1

Or: Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine; 513-977-8838

Tickets: $ 20 to $ 45