This year’s SXSW festival hit an early peak on Tuesday night, when Texas Titan George Strait made a surprise appearance at a birthday party celebrating Asleep at the Wheel’s 65 year-old frontman, Ray Benson. Performing in a tent behind the office of Austin’s GSD&M advertising company, the two singers swapped lyrics during a string of Strait’s hits, including “All My Ex’s Live in Texas” and “Here for a Good Time.”
In the video clip above, they also tackle “Right of Wrong,” the old jazz standard that Strait covered — taking a few pointers from Bob Willis’ own cover along the way — in 1983. Benson towers above his guest by nearly a foot, but the semi-retired Strait stands tall, crooning the verses with a smile and stepping back from the stage’s front whenever an instrumentalist takes a solo. With the crowd surrounding the small stage on three sides, the whole feels like a club gig, albeit with a cameo appearance by one of country music’s most arena-ready headliners.
George Strait will return to the world arenas next month, when his Strait to Vegas residency at the Las Vegas Arena makes its debut on April 22nd.