Tearing It Up With Wild As We Came Here
Saturday evening, the historic GAR Hall located on the doorstep to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Peninsula hosted The Steel Wheels with a SOLD OUT capacity crowd. The boys were finishing up their mini tour promoting the release of Wild As We Came Here on May 5th. Produced by Sam Kassirer, the Mennonite heritage foursome had added percussion and keyboards to their latest album giving their sound more textures and layers. Trent Wagler (vocals/guitar/banjo), Eric Brubaker (fiddle), Jay Lapp (mandolin/guitar), and Brian Dickel (bass) were joined onstage by Kevin Garcia to handle the extra duties.
The nineteen song set included all eight tracks from the new Lp as the show kicked off with “To The Wild” and a nice fiddle bridge from Brubaker, the lead soloist throughout the night. As the aroma of fresh baked apple pie came up from the basement staircase, new songs “Scrape Me Off The Ceiling” and “Sing Me Like A Folk Song” were followed by a bluegrass rendition of Tom Waits “Walk Away”. Recorded during ten days spent in Maine, The Steel Wheels had about forty songs to choose from for Wild As We Came Here and narrowed the record to just eight songs. One that didn’t make the cut but is available as a bonus download with the vinyl version is “Waiting On The Railroad” which was performed for the audience along with the title track. After a nice interpretation of the old tyme English folk tune “The Cuckoo”, the boys crowded a single microphone to perform “Rain In The Valley”. Still huddling the mic, they sang a song named after a growing music festival they host in their hometown area of Mt Solon, Virginia titled “Red Wing”. A book written by Anthony Doerr titled All The Light I Cannot See containing a drunken character playing a broken instrument was the inspiration for Wagler to write “Broken Mandolin”. Songwriting background was also conveyed by Wagler about “Ghost of Myself”, talking about the tapestry of community during this very weird time to be living on Earth. The band played “Long Way To Go” with a tinge of Grateful Dead jam in space that brought the crowd to their feet before the beautiful “Till No One’s Free” as The Steel Wheels stood motionless with the faint sounds of Garcia’s keyboards filling the GAR Hall air to close out the evening.
The band had been on the road for seventeen days and they were very appreciative of the audience’s reception to the new tunes. The Steel Wheels will be taking a break before going out on an extensive summer tour schedule. The Peninsula Foundation sponsors “Voices In The Valley” showcasing acoustic Americana roots music from local singer/songwriters and touring musicians. The building was built circa 1850 as a meeting place for Civil War veterans who served in The Grand Army of the Republic. It has become a wonderful destination location for traveling musicians and tonight’s performance couldn’t have been held in a more intimate and perfect setting.