I am so jealous of the Steel Wheels.
About four years ago, my boyfriend Nick decided to take off of a bike tour of the US. He kept trying to convince me to go along, but I took the “No way, Dude” stance on biking distances of over 1,000 miles. On crappy bikes. With homemade panniers. But then I lost my job and went broke. And suddenly, taking off for a couple of months was sounding pretty good.
So I spent fifty bucks revamping the hybrid trek that I got for my 16th birthday, jerry-rigged some panniers with carabiners and goodwill bags and left for two months. There are a lot of stories to be told: sleeping under bridges in Ohio, hitching rides with hippies in Kansas, chiggers in Missouri, and hundreds and hundreds of donuts consumed. “Epic” is an overused term, but it definitely described that trip. It was a friggin’ odyssey.
I’ve done a few smaller bike tours since then, but every spring I get the itch to get on my bike and ride. One thing that holds me back is the lack of music– those two months in 2006 were the longest I’d gone without playing my guitar since I first picked one up at age fifteen.
The Steel Wheels, however, have got that covered. So full disclosure here: The Steel Wheels from Virginia are a band I’m working with with Shut Eye Records. And it was actually quite cosmic when I got the call asking if I wanted to work with them, because I’d known Jay Lapp (mandolinist, guitarist, and back up sanger) since I was 15 years old. Plus, they had this sweet bike tour planned. Which brings me to my jealousy. At this very moment, the Steel Wheels are pedaling through Michigan on a band tour. They’re carrying all their instruments and gear with them on bike trailers and playing 10 shows in 10 days.
Why am I sitting here at this computer?
Anyway. Bands who tour on bikes are not a completely unknown phenomenon– folk punk bands have been doing it for a while. And there was that one hippie band from the west coast (The Ginger Ninjas?) who pedaled from California to southern Mexico (holy hell!). But there haven’t been too many mainstream bands out there (Not that the Steel Wheels are mainstream, but they are like a top 20 band in the Americana charts, so yeah) wheelin’ around on their Schwinns.
Check out their song “Long Way to Go” in the Girl from Boca Chica music player. It’s from their album “Red Wing” which is just gorgeous. It’s been such a pleasure working with them.