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Friday, 13 January 2012 10:42

'Might as well get to play music at the end of the day' An interview with Elizabeth McQueen of Asleep at the Wheel

'Might as well get to play music at the end of the day' An interview with Elizabeth McQueen of Asleep at the Wheel
Written by Robin Wheeler

Just because Austin vocalist Elizabeth McQueen has been a part of Texas swing institution Asleep at the Wheel since 2005 doesn't mean she's just just a singing cowgirl.

The Arkansas-born, Maryland-raised singer has done everything from singing in the choir, recording covers of Graham Parker and Chuck Berry classics and venturing into chanteuse territory with her 2010 album "The Laziest Girl in Town."

In the decade since she relocated to Austin she's built a catalogue steeped in so many facets of American musical styles, all while starting a family with husband/Wheel drummer Dave Sanger. With their two young children in tow, McQueen continues the troubadour's life, which she documents at Miles and Miles of Diapers.

Next stop on the journey is a brunch show at Lola with St. Louis' Brothers Lazaroff on Sunday, January 15 at 11 a.m.

McQueen took a moment on Monday to exchange emails about her relationship with Brothers Lazaroff and life on the road with her two children.

Robin Wheeler: What led to you pairing with Brothers Lazaroff?

Elizabeth McQueen: David Lazaroff is one of my best friends in the world. He was one of the first people I met when I moved to Austin and we started playing music immediately. We've toured together, recorded together and played countless shows. When he moved back to St. Louis, I was happy for him, but heartbroken for me.

Through him I know his brother Jeff, who I've also played a ton of music with, and by extension, Grover, Teddy and Mo [of Brothers Lazaroff]. I've hung with those guys when they've come to Austin to play shows, and sat in some. They are all insanely good.

A couple of months ago [David] called me up and asked me if I wanted to play Wood House Concerts. It was good timing. Rick Wood had an opening on Saturday, January 14 and I had some time off from Asleep at the Wheel. Since I would be up in the area we decided to play a show together with the full band. David came up with the idea of having me guest at Lola for their brunch set. I immediately said yes. Playing with all these guys is always a good idea.

What can we expect to see at Sunday's performance?

You'll see a nice mix of their material and mine, as well as some surprises. We've been brainstorming about ways to infuse the Brothers Lazaroff groove into my music. It should be very cool.

I loved this blogpost you wrote, so of course I'm going to ask, how's it going on the road with two kids?

It's actually going really well traveling with two kids. In many ways it's easier than traveling with one, mostly because there's not much difference in energy expenditure between the two lifestyles. With two kids, you are always doing something, whether you're at home or on the road. You might as well get to play music at the end of the day.

Interesting though, neither the kids nor Dave, my husband, are coming on the trip. That's something that hasn't happened ever, so I really have no idea how I'm going to feel.

What's up next for you and your husband with Asleep at the Wheel? Lots of shows, I see. Any new recordings?

We don't have any pending Asleep at the Wheel recordings coming up, though we will be traveling a bunch. At the end of February we'll be going to Europe for a short tour, which should be fun. In my solo work, I think the Brothers Lazaroff and I will be collaborating on a new project soon. I'll definitely let you know more about that as it progresses

What music are you listening to these days? What's [2-year-old daughter] Lisel digging?

I've been really into this guy Gotye, from Australia. I discovered him like, five minutes before he started making waves over here. I just heard him on our local NPR station, KUT, today, which makes me so happy. And I've also been listening to a lot of Calle 13, a Latin hip-hop group out of Puerto Rico. They're funny and musical and artistic and generally inspiring.

Lisel is delving into the classics -- "Mary Had a Little Lamb," "When the Saints Go Marching In," "Head Shoulders Knees and Toes." I was just thinking about the definition of a hit song. Man, those kids songs have serious legs. They may be the biggest hits of the century.

What's for brunch?

The spinach and Gruyere souffle looks pretty awesome, as do the omelet-stuffed crepes. Lola's brunch menu looks amazing.

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