Winfield, Kansas — With the release of their third CD project and hot off the road from their second bike tour the band known as The Steel Wheels will be rolling into Winfield for their first time performing at the Walnut Valley Festival. Did we say bike tour? Why yes as a matter of fact we did. It was in fact the 3rd annual bike tour, at least for two members of the band. Appearing under the name The Steel Wheels Duo, band mates Trent Wagler and Jay Lapp began the biking touring combination in the fall of 2009 with a 7 day trip that grew in 2010 to be a concert tour that lasted 10 days and covered around 400 miles. In 2011 the bike tour grew to include the entire Steel Wheels band and covered over 500 miles with concert stops each night in locations from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Chicago, Illinois.
2010 was a breakout year for The Steel Wheels culminating with five nominations from The Independent Music Awards including “Nothing You Can’t Lose” taking top honors as “Best Country Song.” The four-piece band is based in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, where lead singer and primary songwriter Trent Wagler has been a scene staple for nearly a decade. Multi-instrumentalist Jay Lapp was touring with several successful Midwest bands when he and Wagler crossed paths in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and a musical partnership began. The two are joined by upright bassist Brian Dickel and fiddler Eric Brubaker to form The Steel Wheels.
Wagler’s voice, which has been compared to that of Darrell Scott and John Fogerty, is accentuated by smooth four-part harmonies. Brubaker’s fiddle, both lively and evocative, suits the band exactly, and Dickel’s upright bass grounds the outfit. Jay Lapp’s signature mandolin style is remarkable and unmistakable.
The band’s most recent recording “Lay Down Lay Low” was released early this summer. It is a great collection of all original music from Trent Wagler or Jay Lapp or Wagler and Lapp. The CD includes 12 tracks, two of which are instrumental tunes from mandolin player Jay Lapp. Acoustic music fans will enjoy the quality of the musicianship of these two pieces as the quartet shows off their talent on the various instruments they play. Most of the vocal tracks are a cross between Americana and old time music. The acapella gospel song titled Rain in the Valley is a true harmony work of art.
This year The Steel Wheels will be touring from the East coast through the Rocky Mountains in Colorado as well as a trip into Canada. Their popularity is growing in leaps and bounds and Walnut Valley Festival organizers are excited to be hosting them this year during the Winfield, Kansas, festival. The dates for this year’s Walnut Valley Festival are Sept. 12-16. Advance tickets are on sale now at the festival office, 918 Main Street in Winfield, Kansas, or by calling 620-221-3250. For additional information the festival website is www.wvfest.com