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Not Much Sleeping at This Wheel

Debra and Michael McQueen with daughter Elizabeth and granddaugher Lisel. (Dave Sanger)

One day you're living a quiet life as a D.C. architect -- and suddenly you're a roadie.
Mike McQueen and his wife, Debra, have left the suburbs of Washington to hit the road with Grammy-winning Western swing band Asleep at the Wheel. Their daughter Elizabeth sings and plays guitar with the group, son-in-law David Sanger plays drums . . . and 8-week-old granddaughter Lisel Blossom is on her first road tour.

The McQueens jumped in when the band's tour with Willie Nelson was moved up from late spring to this month. The new family couldn't afford to hire a full-time nanny, so Grandpa volunteered to drive the "Baby Bus" -- a refitted Dodge cargo van -- from gig to gig, and Nana signed up for babysitting while the new parents performed on "Late Show With David Letterman," "Austin City Limits" and at live shows on the East Coast. (That's the new mom getting raves for her duet with Nelson.)

"My parents have always said they would continue to support me in my work," said Elizabeth, 31, who grew up in Columbia before launching a music career in Texas. "When I first got pregnant, I thought, 'That's it. I can't do music anymore. I can't travel.' "

Enter the Baby Bus. Her parents had never done road duty before, much less with an infant and a breastfeeding new mother, but were game to try. The bus has two seats in front, a special baby seat, a kitchenette, bathroom, and benches that convert to a bed. The men do most of the driving; the women take care of Lisel and sleep when they get a chance.

It helps that the baby is pretty calm and the in-laws all get along ..... but still. Too close for comfort? "It's actually been really good, because when we get to the next town, [the two couples] have separate hotel rooms," Elizabeth told us.

The two-week tour has gone so well that the entire family is headed back out next month. Elizabeth's dad is now a "part-time road dog, part-time consultant." And no -- they haven't met Willie yet. Can't wait for that chapter of the diary.

By The Reliable Source  |  February 23, 2009; 1:04 AM ET
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