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Hailing from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, the Steel Wheels are familiar with the traditions of folk music and how a string band is supposed to sound. In fact, they have been drawing on those steadfast traditions for more than a decade. Yet their name also evokes a sense of forward motion, which is clearly reflected in their latest album, Wild as We Came Here.
“I think we’ve always been able to write new songs with different landscapes. However it was really enjoyable for us, creatively and artistically, to depart from the straight-up acoustic sound that we’ve been known for,” says Trent Wagler, who plays guitar and banjo in the band and writes most of the material. “I’m excited to see what happens. There are fans out there who are ready for this and who have been waiting for us to do this.”
The band’s name is a tip of the hat to steam-powered trains, industrial progress, and the buggies of their Mennonite lineage. Their musical style weaves through Americana and bluegrass, folk and old-time music, and the acoustic poetry of the finest singer-songwriters. By incorporating percussion and keyboards into their recording sessions for the first time, Wild as We Came Here adds new textures to their catalog, as themes of discovery and perseverance run throughout the collection.
The Harrisonburg, Va., band The Steel Wheels embraces a hand-hewn quality in its music, which is a collection of American sounds reaching from mountains to fields.
Intoxicating, raising the bar several notches