Elizabeth McQueen Takes the Road to a Brand New Career
The Former Lead Singer of Asleep at the Wheel Celebrates the Release of Her First Solo CD
For eight years, with her smoky, velvet voice, Elizabeth McQueen was the ideal front woman for the legendary Texas swing band Asleep at the Wheel. With a pitch-perfect voice, her musical style seemed like something straight out of a 1940s dance hall. Now, her storied career, which catapulted her onto the national stage, is taking a new turn. After nearly a decade of touring twenty different countries and playing some of the most famous venues in the country, including Radio City Music Hall and the Kennedy Center, McQueen has decided to go it alone.
The Austinite has always been a risk taker in her music and her life, and judging from the elbow-to-elbow crowd that came to the release of her new EP The Laziest Remix at Lambert’s last Saturday, it’s a risk that is paying off. Joined by St. Louis darlings, The Brothers Lazaroff, McQueen has taken songs from her 2010 release The Laziest Girl in Town and turned them into something magical, combining the best of jazz, swing, rap, and reggae.
While someone with her profile and talent could easily be a diva, McQueen is a down-to-earth, joyous performer. She clearly takes great pleasure in being a working musician, while showcasing the talents of her fellow artists. While some CD releases can feel a little pre-packaged, the party for The Laziest Remix felt like a good old-fashioned jam at a honky tonk in small Texas town on an ordinary Saturday night. For one of her first songs, Elizabeth brought Katie Holmes, the brand new vocalist for Asleep at the Wheel, to the stage to sing a gorgeous version of “Careless Love.” It was a lovely and symbolic passing of the baton between two great singers.
During her 90-minute performance, McQueen’s set featured the finest talent Austin had to offer, reading like a Who’s Who of local musical royalty. Sarah Sharp and Slim Richie from The Jitterbug Vipers joined the band onstage for McQueen’s classics “You’re to Blame,” and a saucy, sassy new tune called “Stuff It.” The queen of Austin singer songwriters, Erin Ivey, joined Elizabeth to sing a lush new song, “Cryin’ Again,” and Austin favorite Jazz Mills also displayed an amazingly rich set of pipes. The mighty Thelonius Kryptonite added an inspired rap to McQueen’s classic track, “Gone Solid Gone.” Hip Hop husband and wife duo Riders Against the Storm also added their splendid sound to the song.
The highlight of the night was the band’s cover of Chuck Berry’s “Thirty Days,” a nod to The Brothers Lazaroff’s St. Louis heritage. The Brothers Lazaroff have played with Elizabeth on and off for the past ten years and their collaboration already feels like a well-oiled machine. Risk takers in their own right, David and Jeff Lazaroff add a quirky, brave, and ambitious edge to Elizabeth’s songs.
Local favorite and winner of “The Voice,” Nakia capped off a beautiful night of music with his own impressive set of tunes. It was the perfect ending to a flawless evening. If her CD release is any measure, Elizabeth McQueen is in for an exciting and successful ride to her new musical destination.
Photos by Todd V. Wolfson. Art by JJ Campbell.
A portion of the proceeds from the party will go to benefit Black Fret, a new Non-profit organization dedicated to giving grants to local musicians. For more information on Black Fret, visit www.blackfret.org.