SXSW: George Strait, Avett Brothers, Jimmie Vaughan Turn out for Ray Benson's Birthday Bash

Ray Benson and Jason Boland at SXSW

“They always say, ‘What do you want to do on your birthday?’ I want to play music with people I love.”

So said Ray Benson on Tuesday night, and fortunately he knows some pretty notable people -- including country superstar George Strait, the Avett Brothers, Jimmie Vaughan and more, all of whom showed up to play at Benson’s mostly annual Birthday Bash, this year on the spacious grounds behind Austin’s GSD&M advertising agency offices.

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Strait -- who also donated several items to a silent auction to benefit the Health Alliance For Austin Musicians fund -- was the night’s big surprise, joining Benson and Asleep At The Wheel for favorites such as “Troubadour,” “Here For a Good Time,”

“The Fireman” and “All My Ex’s Live in Texas.” Benson and company were also joined by Jason Boland, Dale Watson -- who joked that Benson “used to back up this guy named Jesus Christ” -- Sunny Sweeney, Bonnie Bishop and Carolyn Wonderland, while Asleep At The Wheel finished the night with a medley of the staples “Happy Trails,” “Yellow Rose of Texas” and “On The Road Again.”

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-- Austin’s Peterson Brothers Band made some extra noise at the annual BMI Howdy Texas party inside Stubb’s BBQ. During a lengthy, set-closing version of “Got My Mojo Workin’,” the band’s two teenaged siblings, guitarist Glenn Jr. and bassist Alex, came off the stage, worked their way all the way to the bar on the first floor, then climbed the stairs and played for those seated above before returning to the stage. Dale Watson, who followed, watched appreciatively but kept himself in one place for his set.