The Steel Wheels

with Daniel Young & M. Horton Smith
Wednesday, October 18, 2023
Doors 7 | Music 8
Buy Tickets
Main Image


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. Newest member Jeremy Darrow rounds out the rhythm section and grounds the band as they continue to explore deeply rooted yet fresh folk rock sounds. 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 albums are 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 summer, 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 or 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.

Whether at a joyous summer festival, in their many shows across the country and beyond, or in the studio, The Steel Wheels continue their mission set out over a decade ago; shaking up traditions to see what sticks, telling stories, and joining communities through song.

YouTube Video

Daniel Young & M. Horton Smith

Instagram | YouTube | Spotify

Daniel Young is a singer-songwriter, guitarist, drummer, sound engineer, and producer from Salt Lake City. He grew up on the side of a tall mountain, and that sense of forceful elevation informs all of his work. Daniel's been recording and performing for over two decades—and he's not that old, which tells you much of what you need to know about his commitment to craft, about how deep this runs with him.On the sunset side of the ground floor of Daniel Young's home studio, there's a window that frames a long, straight road. And if you catch it when the light's right, you could swear that road goes on and on—west west west—straight through the Oquirrh Mountains. Nevada. California. It's not hard to imagine that window, that unridden road, and these songs of Young's all shuffled together, ace side up, this past spring and summer. Sometimes you do your hardest traveling at home. That's the way it seems on The World Ain't Gonna Wait, Young's third album. Written on the late-night back porch and mostly recorded in the basement at Orchard Studios, these songs chronicle the urgency and uneasiness of the everyday emergency, the undeniable sense that you may be living your last day—or at least the last day on the world you've known.With guest spots by Sadler Vaden (guitar) of Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Trevor Nealon (b3 organ) of the Band of Heathens, Jay Lapp (mandolin) and Eric Brubaker (fiddle) of the Steel Wheels, The World Ain't Gonna Wait also features the final session of local luminary Pat Campbell (drums). If the threat level ever falls, we can give thanks that these sounds will keep rolling on—west west west. Winnemucca. Wells. Rolling.Musically, the bleary blend of country, rock & roll, and greasy blues is augmented by cosmic Dead-style extended jams, Burrito-worthy grooves, and West Coast melodicism. Like so many before him, Daniel has sought solace in desert places, including a pilgrimage to the Joshua Tree Inn to find the spirit of his idol Gram Parsons. The World Ain't Gonna Wait bears witness of those spaces, those journeys. Go with him, if you can—you may not know it yet but you're probably heading there anyway.