...by Steel Wheels
Fiddle music played by four traveling Mennonites. Put it that way and you might think that the Steel Wheels would not be a band that could chart and get radio play after scoring accolades at the Independent Music Awards. But they did. And this was in 2010, only a few years after they’d started making roots music together in earnest. Audiences liked what they heard. Why? Because the bluegrass contingent is part of our American culture. It is an unhip but elegant music with its own set of rules as forged by poverty and weather on front porches throughout the Appalachian valley via the very first British and Irish settlers.
- Sunday, December 11, 2016, 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
915 Camino Del Mar #100,
$18 - $20
The thing about bluegrass is that it has a hand-made feel to it, and it often sounds joyous in the face of the kind of deeper sorrow for which there is no respite: “We buried mother in an unmarked grave,” Trent Wagler sings, “born with a name, but no name to save/ ’cause heaven don’t come by here.” Maybe it’s the Mennonite heritage, but Steel Wheels’ originals are loaded with biblical metaphors. With Eric Brubaker on fiddle, mandolinist Jay Lapp, Brian Dickel on upright bass, and Wagler on lead vocals and guitars, the four gather in true old-style around a single microphone to belt out the traditional harmonies.
But don’t expect an evening at the Grand Ole Opry. Wagler, from Harrisburg, VA, a hometown known for some 30 Civil War battle sites, sings like his throat’s inflamed and he’s trying to shout that fire right out of his lungs. The guys met at Eastern Mennonite University, but somehow they escaped the traditions of their upbringing; Wagler and Dickel played in a punk band at first, later discovered acoustic music, and in time added the rest of the members. By 2007 they were a band. A bluegrass band, from Virginia. History repeats itself. Sort of.