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Ace in the Hole

Background information
Also known as Stoney Ridge
Origin San Marcos, Texas, U.S.
Genres Western Swing, Alternative Country
Years active 197?-1975 (as Stoney Ridge)
1975-present (as Ace in the Hole)
Labels D Records, MCA Records, Texas World
Associated acts George Strait
Terry Hale, Mike Daily, Ron Huckaby, Rick McRae, Benny McArthur, Mike Kennedy, Gene Elders, Jeff Sturms, John Michael Whitby, Marty Slayton, Wes Hightower
Former members
George Strait, Ron Cabal, Ted Stubblefield, Tommy Foote, Jay Dominguez, Ted Stubblefield, Bill Mabry, Roger Montgomery

The Ace in the Hole are the backing band for country music performer George Strait, who was the band's lead singer before beginning his solo career in front of the group in the early 1980s.



The origins of the Ace in the Hole go back to the band "Stoney Ridge," which was composed of Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University) students including lead guitarist Ron Cabal, steel guitarist Mike Daily, bass player Terry Hale, drummer Tommy Foote and lead vocalist Jay Dominguez. Dominguez and Foote left the band after graduating in 1975, and the band began a search for a new singer by posting bulletins around the Southwest Texas campus.[1] George Strait, who was studying Agricultural science at the school, contacted the band and was soon hired after an audition. The group was thereafter renamed the Ace in the Hole.[1]

The group regularly performed at Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos, Texas, where they made their debut on October 13, 1975 along with new drummer Ted Stubblefield, who replaced Foote. Acts such as Asleep at the Wheel and Jerry Jeff Walker also played at the forum. The band appeared at the locale nearly every week until the early 1980s, when they began touring with Strait. Drummer Foote returned to the lineup late in 1975.[1]

In 1976, band member Daily's father decided to record the group for his "D records" label at a studio in Houston, Texas. At the first session, the band recorded the song, "The Honky Tonk Downstairs" from Dallas Frazier and the Strait-penned "I Just Can't Go on Dying Like This." The songs were released to radio stations in Texas and Oklahoma. In 1977, Bill Mabry was added to the lineup as a fiddle player and the band recorded their second single, which included the songs "Lonesome Rodeo Cowboy" and "That Don’t Change the Way I Feel About You," which was written by Strait. The next year, the band recorded the songs "Right or Wrong," and "Little Liza Jane"[1], which were included on the Complete D Singles Collection, Vol. 6: The Sounds of Houston, Texas album by the label in 2005.[2] Strait re-recorded "Right or Wrong" in 1984 and took it to #1 on country charts.[3] "The Loneliest Singer in Town" and Strait's "I Don’t Want to Talk It Over Anymore" also came out of this session. The three songs composed by Strait were later released on his 1995 compilation album Strait Out of the Box.[4]

In 1981, after Strait signed with MCA Records, the band began to tour with him and played the instrumentals on his recordings. They were honored in 1991 with the SRO's "Touring Band of the Year."[5] Four years later, the band released an album without vocals from Strait, and instead featured guest vocals from singers Darrell McCall and Mel Tillis.[1]


The band plays in a honky-tonk and western swing style. In its early years, songs credited to such performers as Bob Wills, Hank Williams, Johnny Bush, George Jones and Merle Haggard were a mainstay. Because of their style, performances in the city of Austin, Texas often eluded the group due to the city's thirst for a more "progressive" country sound.[1]

Strait traveled to Nashville in 1977 with hopes of beginning a career, but most in the music industry passed on him, shunning his traditional approach for pop-influenced sounds popular in country music during the late 1970s Urban Cowboy/crossover era.[1] described the band's style as Alternative, Neotraditionalist country and part of the Western Swing revival.[5]




WLonliest Singer in Town.jpg
Year Single[3] Album
1977 "I Just Can't Go On Dying Like This" Strait Out of the Box (George Strait album)[4]
"Honky Tonk Downstairs" Complete D Singles Collection, Vol. 6: The Sounds of Houston, Texas[2]
"Lonesome Rodeo Cowboy"
"(That Don't Change The) Way I Feel About You" Strait Out of the Box[4]
1978 "I Don't Want To Talk It Over"
"Loneliest Singer In Town" Complete D Singles Collection, Vol. 6: The Sounds of Houston, Texas[2]
"Where Are You Now When We Need You Ross Perot"

Ace in the Hole (Album)

Ace in the Hole
Studio album
Released April 16, 1995
Genre Alternative Country, Western swing
Length 30:13
Label Texas World
Producer Billy Stull, Lucky Tomblin

The Ace in the Hole band released their self-named debut album in 1995.[6] Among its many covers, the album featured the song "You're Something Special to Me," which was recorded by George Strait on his 1985 album Something Special.[7]

Track list
# Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Returning the Corn"   Rick McRae, Riff Ryder 2:45
2. "You're Something Special to Me"   David Anthony 3:51
3. "Mirrors Don't Lie"   Merle Haggard 3:14
4. "What Comes Natural to a Fool"   Ronnie McCown 2:45
5. "I'll Be Waiting Here Til Then"   Anthony, Benny McArthur, McRae 2:29
6. "Texas Bounce"   Gene Elders, McRae 3:25
7. "Back in the Swing of Things"   Anthony, McArthur 2:55
8. "The Difference Between Me and Him Is You"   Gary Harrison, Tim Mensy 3:24
9. "My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You"   Lee Ross, Bob Wills 2:50
10. "I'm Ragged But I'm Right"   George Jones 2:32



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