The Steel Wheels - The Steel Wheels have enthralled audiences across the country with their heady brew of original soulful mountain music. “Americana music at its very best!” said Larry Groce of Mountain Stage. Based in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, this dynamic band marries old-time musical traditions with their own innovative sound. Trent Wagler’s weathered tenor is joined by bell-clear four-part harmonies inspired by a shared Mennonite heritage. Add to this Eric Brubaker’s lively and evocative fiddle, Brian Dickel’s grounded yet buoyant upright bass, and Jay Lapp’s signature mandolin style, and it’s no surprise that The Steel Wheels have burst onto the Americana scene, becoming festival favorites and selling out venues across the country. They have played Merlefest, Mountain Stage, the heralded Stagecoach Festival and they also launched the Red Wing Roots Music Festival in the Shenandoah Valley. In addition, for the past 3 years they have performed an annual SpokeSongs bicycle music tour, during which band members tow their instruments, equipment, and merchandise from one gig to another via bicycle and blog about their adventures.
No More Rain, The Steel Wheels’ third album begins with the lyric, “I want to walk away and start over again.” The line, from Tom Waits’ “Walk Away,” fits the theme of the album, a retrospective from the acclaimed acoustic band. According to Trent Wagler, the band’s principal songwriter and vocalist, “These are songs we wrote and played together when we first met, some even pre-date the band’s debut. It’s been fun to hand pick and revisit some of the fan favorites and bring them back with a new energy and sound. ”
The band’s merchandise represents a host of grassroots connections to people and businesses. Lucas Roasting Company, located just outside of Harrisonburg, created “Halfway to Heaven” coffee in honor of the band located on Afton. Blue Mountain Brewery, located on Afton Mountain in Virginia, hosted the band when they were just getting started and now distributes the “Steel Wheels ESB” across the east coast. The band’s T-shirts are made in downtown Harrisonburg, and a potter who is a childhood friend of Jay’s makes their mugs. Each business is local for the band, and each product is intimately woven into their narrative.
|Baskery -No matter where they go in the world, people tell the sisters that they’ve never heard or seen anything like it, that they have a completely unique sound and perform with what seems to be an inexhaustible energy. That’s Baskery’s aim, to never stop surprising. Baskery is a band built on what three people can do together. The music is not to be confused with country or bluegrass just because the instrumentation involves a double bass, a six string banjo and acoustic guitar.
The trio is not bound to any genre and this is what makes Baskery a little hard to figure out just by listening to their albums. It’s all there in the live act, cause it is real. The three sisters can’t recall when or why they started playing, the music’s always just been there. “Performing live has become the most natural thing to us”. That’s where the high energy level on stage hails from, a pure and reckless love to the art of performing music.
In their late teens the sisters joined forces with their dad, who had been a one man band as long as the girls can recall it, playing old blues and country tunes for a living. They got introduced to the music business in a quite unglamorous way: “We played cover songs in pubs and bars, still we never played songs we didn’t like just to please the crowd”. This foundation of classic “roots music and Americana” settled in their hearts, but also awoke the urge of breaking the rules of traditional music.
Baskery is all about turning the music on its head, blending the straightforwardness of punk with the subtlety of singer/songwriting. Baskery has successfully toured all over the world, performing at festivals such as Glastonbury (UK), Woodford (AUS), SXSW (US), Portland Waterfront Blues Festival (US), Calgary Folk (CAN), California World Fest (US), Lowlands (NL), Azkena Rock (ES), Storsjöyran (SWE), Bergen Fest (NOR), Toender (DK) Shrewsbury Folk Festival (UK), Four Corners Folk Festival, (US), Sisters Folk Festival, (US) and many more.
Billy Strings & Don Julin - Billy Strings & Don Julin play traditional American string band music with energy levels usually associated with extreme sports. A typical set includes haunting Appalachian songs, righteous gospel standards, and blazing bluegrass instrumentals. Honoring the musical traditions of Doc Watson, Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley, and Jimmy Martin, these boys will take you back to that high lonesome sound of yesterday’s bluegrass. No super-slick Nash-pop here. This is your grandaddy’s bluegrass delivered with a pedal to the metal intensity of a moonshine runner.
Billy Strings is a 20 yr old, tattoo covered guitar picker/singer that you surely will be hearing about for years to come. “Blessed with the voice of an old soul from the mountains, a gentlemanly air, and the ability to sling hundreds of notes with razor-crisp precision at the speed of a machine gun, Strings’ flat-picking talent seems almost beyond comprehension to veterans of the local bluegrass scene, especially given his youth.” Northern Express Publications.
For over 30 years, Don Julin has built a reputation as being one of the most eclectic and versatile mandolin players today. From jazz to bluegrass, from Vivaldi to Led Zeppelin, old-time fiddle tunes to ambient buddah-bar loops. His original mandolin compositions have been licensed by HBO, VH1, MTV, NBC, Showtime, Bravo, National Geographic Explorer, Fox Sports, and others. Julin is the author of the best-selling “Mandolin For Dummies” (Wiley & Sons 2012) and is an in- demand mandolin teacher giving mandolin workshops and master classes around the world.
Charlie Parr - Many people play roots music, but few modern musicians live those roots like Minnesota’s Charlie Parr. Recording since the earliest days of the 21st century, Parr’s heartfelt and plaintive original folk blues and traditional spirituals don’t strive for authenticity: They are authentic.
To many, Parr is considered a regional artist, which is another way of saying he doesn’t like to travel far from his family’s Depression era roots. “From Cleveland to Seattle and down to San Francisco and back is my area,” he says, though the focus is unquestionably Minnesota and the Northern Plains. Yet he’s built a big enough audience in both Ireland and Australia to tour both regularly. He’s had especially good fortune Down Under, where his “1922 Blues” was used as the counterintuitive music behind a Vodafone mobile commercial and became a viral and radio success. Three of his songs added atmospheric resonance to the 2010 Australian western “Red Hill.” On his last tour, his fourth of that continent, he was a guest DJ for three hours on a Melbourne roots music radio station, on which he played songs from his own mix CD. “The newest thing on it was some Bukka White recordings from the 1940s,” Parr says with some incredulity. “People were calling all morning to say how much they like the music.”