Mid-Shore Music: Steel Wheels Hit Chestertown June 9

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The Roots at the Garfield concert series continues June 9 at 8 p.m. with a performance by The Steel Wheels.

Hailing from the Blue Ridge .Mountains of Virginia, The Steel Wheels are comprised of songwriter Trent Wagler on guitar and banjo, Eric Brubaker on fiddle, Brian Dickel on upright bass, and Jay Lapp on mandolin.

Their latest album, Wild As We Came Here is a significant leap for the band, which started its journey in 2004. Wagler, Dickel, and Brubaker studied at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, about an hour from Charlottesville. (All four members of the band grew up in Mennonite families.) Wagler and Dickel were in a punk/alternative band until acoustic music lured them in.

Wagler soon started crafting songs and learned flat-picking. Dickel took classes on building guitars. They briefly played as a duo before Brubaker joined on fiddle. Lapp eventually came on board after getting to know the band from the local folk circuit. In 2010, following a variety of EPs and LPs, the ensemble officially branded itself as The Steel Wheels, a tip of the hat to steam-powered trains, industrial progress, and the buggies of their Mennonite lineage.

NPR’s Mountain Stage says, “Few groups have come as far in such a short period of time as The Steel Wheels…” Country Standard Time magazine adds, “What sets The Steel Wheels from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia apart from many bands is the combination of their stellar instrumentals, accentuated by the one of a kind lead vocal of [Trent] Wagler, and keenly supported by strong harmonies. Eric Brubaker on fiddle, Jay Lapp on mandolin, and Brian Dickel on bass weave in and out intricately throughout this record, painting vivid imagery which flows effortlessly, just teasing the lyrics enough to allow them to resonate within you.”

Then as now, The Steel Wheels’ style weaves through Americana and bluegrass music, folk and old-time music, and the acoustic poetry of the finest singer-songwriters. By incorporating percussion and keyboards into the 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.

This concert is the third in the five-part Roots at the Garfield series, generously sponsored by Andrew and Leslie Price, which brings early blues, bluegrass, folk, r&b and rock music to Chestertown. Remaining concerts include David Stone: The Johnny Cash Experience on July 22nd and Hannah Gill and the Hours on September.

Tickets are $30 general admission and $20 for students. Tickets are available by calling 410-810-2060, online here or at the box office. The Garfield Center for the Arts is located at 210 High Street in Chestertown.

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