“Imagine a blend of the passion of the Avett Brothers, the instrumentals of Old Crow Medicine Show, and then sprinkle in the backwoods feel of The Legendary Shack Shakers,” said John Walker, of Americana Roots. “In truth, attempting to compare The Steel Wheels to anyone is an injustice, since after one listen you can hear that they stand very well on their own perch.”
Staying true to their Blue Ridge Mountain roots, The Steel Wheels produce a unique sound of soulful mountain music that is difficult to capture in this day and age that widens the spectrum of bluegrass and soul, causing them to form a beautiful collaboration of music.
Virginia musician Trent Wagler is the band’s primary songwriter as well as the lead vocalist. Jay Lapp (mandolin, guitar, vocals) had been touring in several bands throughout the Midwest before meeting Trent in Harrisonburg, Virginia in college at Eastern Mennonite University. This is when the magic happened, forming the first edition of The Steel Wheels. It was not much longer that the two originals were joined by Eric Brubaker (fiddle) and Brian Dickel (upright bass).
The Band kept the name as well as the soulful mountain sound. The group looks back on the encounters with a chuckle because they are commonly asked why they attended a Mennonite school.
One of the most interesting facts about the band is they all grew up in a more secular Mennonite upbringing. It was not long before the Blue Mountain group started recording their music.
The group released their first album, “Red Wing”, in 2010, and their most recent album, “No More Rain”, was released in 2013. They group has received nominations for various accolades. Their song “Nothing You Can’t Lose” (from the album “Red Wing”) was granted the highest award of “Best Country Song” in the IMA Awards and in the Vox Pop Awards.
The Steel Wheels were also awarded seven nominations from The Independent Music Awards in 2010 alone. Their album, “Red Wing”, was very successful on radio airplay. The album was found on the charts of the Americana Music Association for 13 weeks. The chart was a Top 40 chart, and “Red Wing” climbed to number 15.
The Steel Wheels are heading out on tour this spring, ranging in location from Canada, Virginia, Tennessee and more to promote their most recent album, “No More Rain”. The group can also be found on Spotify and YouTube.