The Steel Wheels return to Carnegie Hallon Saturday, Mar. 26, at 7:30 p.m. as the Mainstage Performance Series continuesin the Hamilton Auditorium.The band last played to a sold-out Hamilton Auditoriumon Apr. 7, 2017.
The Steel Wheels have long been at home in the creative space between tradition and innovation, informed by the familiar sounds of the Virginia mountains where the band was formed, but always moving forward with insightful lyrics and an evolving sound. In 2005, Jay Lapp (vocals, guitars, mandolin) and Eric Brubaker (vocals, fiddle) joined lead singer Trent Wagler (guitar, banjo) in forming the band as a vehicle for Wagler’s songwriting. They released several albums under Wagler’s moniker, before officially adopting the The Steel Wheels name with the 2010 release of Red Wing. Quickly staking their claim as independent upstarts in the burgeoning Americana scene, The Steel Wheels followed up this release with three more self-produced albums in the next five years, before joining forces with producer Sam Kassirer for Wild As We Came Here (2017) and Over The Trees (2019). Kevin Garcia (drums, percussion, keys) joined in 2017, bringing a new level of sonic depth and polish to the outfit. Having gained the experience of thousands of shows, festivals and many miles on the road, the stubbornly independent band has formed deep bonds with each other and the audience that sustains them.
The Steel Wheels have responded to this time of isolation and loss by seeking to connect with their audience in new ways. In 2020, unable to perform their rootsy brand of Americana for crowds in live settings, the musicians turned their creative powers to crafting songs for individuals. Produced in isolation in the band’s home studios, the Everyone a Song album is part of an ongoing project to collect the personal experiences of fans and forge them into that most enduring, yet ephemeral, format we call “song.” An accompanying podcast, We Made You a Song, explores the stories behind these songs, and the songwriting process itself. While each song was commissioned to honor a specific relationship or event – a birth, a wedding, a memory of home – the emotions evoked are universal.
Nowhere is this shared humanity more evident than at the band’s own Red Wing Roots Music Festival, a weekend-long celebration of music, community, and the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. Hosted by The Steel Wheels every July, the festival provides a space for the band to shine, from their high energy Saturday night main stage set to their afternoon showcase with young Red Wing Academy students. At Sunday’s gospel hour you are as likely to hear Steel Wheels originals and Warren Zevon covers as you are traditional gospel fare. The weekend is rounded out by the beloved tribute set in which the band collaborates with a cadre of fellow artists to honor an influential figure in American music, with past tributes ranging from Dolly Parton to John Prine.
The year 2021 closes a chapter for The Steel Wheels, as founding member and bass player Brian Dickel moves on from touring in order to take over for Jeff Huss as co-owner of Huss and Dalton Guitars. The band will be joined by bassist Derek Kratzer, a longtime friend and musical collaborator, to continue the mission set out over a decade ago, shaking up traditions to see what sticks, telling stories, and joining communities through song.
The newly renovated Hamilton Auditorium’sHVAC system is equipped with MERV13 filters and has an air exchange ratio or 7-8 times per hour per air handler (there are two) within the auditorium. An economizer has been added which allows the space to draw 100% outside air as opposed to recycling ambient air should the need arise.
Tickets for the mainstage performance start at $25 and discounts are available for Carnegie Hall members, students, senior citizens, and military. To purchase tickets, call Carnegie Hall Box Office at 304-645-7917, visit www.carnegiehallwv.org, or stop by at 611 Church Street, Lewisburg. Carnegie Hall Box Office is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
For more information on The Steel Wheels visit www.thesteelwheels.com.