If you haven’t, please proceed to their website immediately, spend the day getting to know them, listen to their music and then please make plans to catch them the next time they are anywhere near you.
Their website can fill you in on not only the history of their relationship, their impressive musical pedigree, several selections from their most recent CD Redwing (as well as a link to a few full shows that will really give you a great feel for their depth and range), and recent accolades; 2010 Independent Music Award Winners for their song Nothing You Can’t Lose for Best Country Song, but also a link to their upcoming and third annual bike tour. (Yes, they strap their instruments to their bikes, and ride across several states in a pedal and play extravaganza.)
The backbone of this ensemble is Trent Wagler and Jay Lapp who have been playing together now, in various iterations for seven years. Bassist Brian Dickel has been the third leg of the stool for almost as long, and their now fiddle player Oliver Craven has been a band member for about 9 months. These guys have some serious chemistry.
We caught both of them last night in Charlottesville, VA at The Southern Café and Music Hall, which, for a Thursday night turned out an impressively enthusiastic crowd who clearly were already in on the secret. The Steel Wheels opened their set with a new a capella number, which will be on a CD released some time next fall. It made the hair on my arms stand up, as do a number of their songs because they punctuate their Americana with a very soulful gospelgrass kind of vibe that continues to give me the chills, especially when I see them live.
They were preceded on stage by Dehlia Low, whose upcoming release Ravens & Crows was just announced on The Bluegrass Blog last week. They refer to themselves as an acoustic appalachigrassicana band out of Asheville, NC. As John mentioned, in addition to their solid musicianship, they feature tandem vocals which, for me, was the real hook. Anya has a very distinctive voice and when she and Stacy harmonize it’s just really special. I have added them to my “must see” list permanently.
This was their second time playing with The Steel Wheels, but hopefully not their last. These two outfits really compliment each other. I’m just going to go out on a limb and predict really big and really great things for both of these bands. And now that you know too, you’ll be able to say that you saw them when….