A Virginia-based Americana band with a strong bluegrass underpinning, the Steel Wheels built up a dedicated following through regular performances at folk and roots festivals in the 2010s.
Playing acoustic music with warmth, a sense of authority, and a tuneful approach that doesn't interfere with their traditional underpinnings, the Steel Wheels pursued an elegant approach on early efforts like 2010's Uncloudy Day. But a bit of pop polish and keyboards were added to the mix on 2017's Wild as We Came Here, while 2019's Over the Trees was a set that owed as much to indie rock and Americana as contemporary folk or bluegrass.
Trent Wagler (vocals, guitar) and Jay Lapp (mandolin, guitar, vocals) formed the first incarnation of the group in 2004, adding bassist Brian Dickel and fiddler Eric Brubaker not much later. Dojo released three albums by the then-nameless band -- Journal of a Barefoot Soldier (2005), Blue Heaven (2006), and Adrienna Valentine (2008) -- before the group renamed itself the Steel Wheels and issued two independent LPs, Red Wing and Uncloudy Day, in 2010. These indie releases helped the group earn seven nominations from the Independent Music Awards in 2010, and along with the acclaim came some Americana radio play and festival slots. Additionally, the Steel Wheels would play a "SpokeSongs" tour in the summer, where they'd cycle through Virginia or Michigan, playing songs along the way. After two more indie records -- Lay Down, Lay Low (2012) and No More Rain (2013) -- the band moved to Big Ring Records for Leave Some Things Behind in 2015. Two years later they delivered Wild as We Came Here, which was produced by Sam Kassirer, who plays keyboards for Josh Ritter. With 2019's eclectic and ambitious Over the Trees, the band made it onto the Independent Albums chart, peaking at 32. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi