The Steel Wheels
The Steel Wheels
Some things come to be in their own time, of their own accord. Such has been the case with The Steel Wheels. In the beginning, it was simply a matter of four young men whod happened to cross paths at a formative moment in each of their lives reveling in the shared experience of plucking acoustic instruments and blending their voices. But over the years, what had begun organically as a pure lark evolved into a mission: to fuse the personal with the universal, the deeply rooted past with the joys and sorrows of everyday existence.
These thematic and stylistic vectors intersect powerfully on Leave Some Things Behind (released April 13 on the bands own Big Ring label), a deeply human, emotionally authentic work that interweaves timely songs with timeless sounds. On the album, co-produced and engineered by Ben Surratt, the four band memberslead singer/guitarist/banjo player Trent Wagler, standup bass player Brian Dickel, fiddler Eric Brubaker and mandolin player Jay Lappare joined on various tracks by roots- music luminary Tim OBrien, Nashville-based singer/songwriter Sarah Siskind (who co-wrote two songs and sang on another), drummer Travis Whitmore and Hammond B3 player Ethan Ballinger.
Together, theyve wrought a work that is musically intricate and conceptually resonant, the sounds serving the songs at every moment. Memorable original tunes like the sorrowful Heaven Dont Come by Here, the anxious End of the World Again, the a cappella tour de force Promised Land, the indigenously metaphorical Find Your Mountain, the autobiographical Rescue Me, Virginia and the climactic Every Song Is a Love Song are bound by a plainspoken eloquence and an unforced urgency, while the dual kickers Weve Got a Fire and Warm Wool, Soft Leather seem tailor-made for the Grand Ole Opry stage circa 1968as if intimating some of those precious things weve left behind.
The bands genesis dates back to 2004, when Wagler, Dickel and Brubaker were college students in Harrisonburg, Virginia, which sits in the Shenandoah Valley an hours drive from Charlottesville. The school we met at is Eastern Mennonite University, Wagler recalls, punctuating the reveal with a wry chuckle. That begs the next question, which is, Why in the world did you go to Eastern Mennonite University? One of the unique things about our band is that all four of us grew up in Mennonite familiesand I hesitate to even use the word because many people who dont have much experience with Mennonites see that as Amish, but thats not accurate. It was more of a secular Mennonite upbringing. So that was where the three of us met, but we didnt start the band right away.
As undergraduates, Wagler played bass and Dickel guitar in a punk-leaning alternative band, but over time they developed an interest in acoustic music, as Trent learned flatpicking and began writing songs, while Brian studied guitar making at a school for aspiring luthiers. They began performing casual gigs as a duo, and it wasnt long before Brubaker began playing with them, expanding the nascent groups sound with his fiddle and bass voice, which enriched the harmonies. Once Wagler crossed paths with mandolin player Jay Lapp on the local folk circuit, the lineup was complete although none of them realized at the time that these four like-minded friends had begun the process of becoming a going concern. After making an album together under Waglers name, they continued to play informally for the next half decade, while also recording a 2007 LP as Trent Wagler and the Steel Wheels. Concurrently, they worked day jobs and started families. Finally, they took the leap of faith, throwing their lots together as The Steel Wheels, a band name redolent of steam-powered railroad trains, Americas industrial age and the buggies of their Mennonite forebears. Their initial offering as a committed unit, 2010s Red Wing, put the newly minted fulltime band on the map at the dawn of the folk-music renaissance; the LP spent 13 weeks on the Americana Music Associations Top 40 chart, while the track Nothing You Cant Lose was named Best Country Song at the Independent Music Awards.
24 East King St
Lancaster, PA 17602
|Minimum Age: 21|
|Kid Friendly: No|
|Dog Friendly: No|
|Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!|