George Strait and Ray Benson weather the fires of four decades

George Strait at Tapatio Springs. (Photo by Jack Dennis)

Strait recently raised millions for Hurricane Harvey victims

His Texas Hill Country Golf Resort clubhouse perished in fire

Every November since 2015, Country Music legend George Strait hosts a golf tournament and western shin-dig for about 500 people from across the country at the singer’s Tapatio Springs Golf Resort near Boerne, Texas. Strait bought the resort property, about 30 minutes outside of San Antonio, in 2011 in a partnership with Texas entrepreneur Tom P. Cusick, Jr. A fire destroyed the clubhouse building Saturday night November 4, 2017. Tapatio Springs is on 220 acres in the Hill Country. Its 18-hole golf course recently underwent a $2 million renovation.

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The November annual event occurred again just a week before the devastating fire, raising  $1.4 million for David Feherty’s Troops First Foundation, which benefits wounded U.S. military service members.

In September Strait brought his Ace in the Hole band to join Miranda Lambert, Chris Stapleton, Lyle Lovett, and Robert Earl Keen at the Majestic Theater in San Antonio to raise $5 million for Hurricane Harvey victims. Overall, Strait and friends raised more than $20 million, with a match from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. An hour long telethon tied to the concert, “Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Harvey Relief,” was televised nationally and raised an additional $14.5 million.

George Strait and Ray Benson perform at Tapatio Springs, near Boerne, Texas. (Photo by Jack Dennis)

Strait, who has 60 No. 1 singles and nearly 70 million records sold, is the most-nominated artist in CMA Awards history and was the first country music artist honored with Billboard’s “Legend Of Live” Award. His last show before his retirement from touring, took place at AT&T Stadium on June 7, 2014, and shattered the North American attendance record for an indoor concert with 104,793 ticket-holders.

Last year, Strait’s “Amarillo By Morning” was selected as Country Music’s greatest song of all time thanks to George Strait fans who voted in The Tennessean Country Music Madness online poll . The treasured 1983 hit beat out Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man” during a 64-song “tournament bracket” of 12 voting days.

All American and King of Country Music George Strait (Photo by Jack Dennis)

“The number of fans trying to vote in the polls far exceeded expectations, and crashed the tournament website multiple times,” the Nashville site reported. The Tennessean gives the credit for the win to an 11,000 fan Facebook group known as “George Strait Fever,” and super-fan Joyce Morris of Acworth, Ga.

“I believe George Strait is the best representative Country Music has now or has had in the past because of his personal character and his work ethic,” Morris, who describes herself as born and raised ‘Georgia Peach,’ told NEWS LEGIT.

 Years ago, a young George Strait had opened for an Asleep at the Wheel performance in nearby Gruene, Texas. They continue to be friends. Each year, Asleep at the Wheel opens for Strait at Tapatio Springs in November for a private show to raise funds for American soldiers injured while serving in the Middle East.

Since Strait capped off the end of his touring days with a last world record breaking concert in June 2015, these shows with Benson are rare and intimate performances. Backed by the masterful Asleep at the Wheel band, Strait and Benson, with other entertainers and celebrities, they’ve raised millions for golf television personality David Feherty’s Troops First Foundation. The foundation provides meaningful assistance to military members who have been wounded serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Asleep at the Wheel has been a faithful regular of the cause each autumn and enjoy working with Strait. Through the years the band has shared a stage with such stars as Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Van Morrison, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris and Lyle Lovett. The band was recently inducted into the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame, along with Loretta Lynn.

Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel help Wounded Warriors with George Strait

Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel fame kick off a private show to raise funds for injured soldiers returning from Middle East with George S
Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel fame kicked off a private show to raise funds for injured soldiers returning from Middle East with George Strait in Boerne, Texas, Nov. 7, 2015. Graphic and photos by Jack Dennis
Mrs. Bobbie Seifert raised four children in a suburban Philadelphia home filled with music. A childhood neighbor, David Weiss, lived across the street and became best friends with Mike, the oldest boy in the Seifert clan.

“Their household was also, to put it politely, chaotic,” Weiss recently told book author David Menconi. “You could jump from the open stairwell onto the living room couches with your shoes on (which we often did) and nobody said a word.”

While Mrs. Seifert was teaching classes to elementary students, including NBA icon Wilt Chamberlin, her youngest son, Ray, would spend summers playing outside with Benjamin Netanyahu, the current Prime Minister of Israel.

Ray Benson, David Feherty, and George Strait (Jack Dennis)

Weiss he and his best friend Mike spent much of their time trying to ditch little brother Ray, who “was always tagging along with us” and “was as accident-prone as anyone I ever knew,” Weiss revealed. “Whenever he showed up at Chestnut Hill Hospital emergency room it was, ‘Ray, are you back again?’ He split his chin open on a trampoline, got a large fish hook stuck through his finger, was hit in the head with a pipe.”

Little brother Ray Seifert, grew up to be big man, Ray Benson, the co-founder and only continuous member of the Western swing band Asleep at the Wheel. The six-foot-seven inch band leader and five members of the group took some time away from touring and promoting his new book, “Comin’ Right at Ya–How a Jewish Yankee Hippie Went Country, or, the Often Outrageous History of Asleep at the Wheel,” co-authored with Menconi to help out a friend in Boerne, Texas this weekend.

 

“Dream it, be it, follow your bliss,” Benson wrote in his book. “And if you keep at it long enough, maybe catch a break or two, you never know what fate might throw your way. A quarter century after Asleep at the Wheel won that first Grammy Award, I was appointed “Official Texas State Musician” of 2004, an honor that has also gone to Willie Nelson, Flaco Jiménez, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, and other native sons over the years.”

“Then in 2011, the 170th Texas Legislature up and declared me, Ray Benson—real name Ray Seifert, a Jewish Yankee born and raised seventeen hundred miles and five states north of Austin—“Texan of the Year.” House Resolution 844, which somehow passed unanimously. That also gave me the juice to get a burial plot in the Texas State Cemetery (a place reserved for legislators and “significant Texans”), where I will someday be laid to rest alongside Bud Shrake, Ann Richards, Sam Houston, Tom Landry, and other notables.”

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