Hitting the road more than a jackhammer working overtime for a well-rested Bob the Builder, popular Americana band The Steel Wheels will pound the pavement to the World Café Live at the Queen on Wednesday.
In concert, The Wheels reel in spectators by baiting them with their acoustic fervor cast from their stringed instruments (mandolin, fiddle, guitar and upright bass), offering a well-balanced meal of both instrumentals and ballads, while sneakily managing to spoon in a few a capellas.
The Wheels keep turning
Since the start of the year, The Wheels — a foursome based out of Virginia whose song “Rain in the Valley,” featured on their new album “Lay Down Lay Low,” was spotlighted as NPR’s Song of the Day on May 10 — have steadily gigged at more than 30 venues across the country in states like Texas, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. On this voyage The Wheels have also sold out shows in Virginia, as well as played gigs in Canada. And while their gypsy-way-of-life is hardly a new experience to the crew, performing at The Queen certainly will be.
“I’m really excited about playing at the World Café,” said frontman Trent Wagler, 32, of Harrisburg, Va. “To my knowledge, we haven’t played in Delaware.”
In many ways “Lay Down Lay Low” represents a photo album of both light and shadowy anecdotes that the band felt needed to be framed and commemorated, Wagler said.
For instance, the track “One Time” was inspired by an unforgettable night on the town Wagler spent with his then 6-year-old daughter, Mia, in 2011.
“We went to see a show at a venue in Virginia and she loved the music,” beamed Wagler.
Pumped for the concert, Mia donned an “over-the-top princess dress,” Wagler recalled. “She’s a 6-year-old girl who wanted to look like Cinderella. And she asked me to wear a tie. It was a beautiful night of music.”
Upon returning to their castle that night, Wagler knew he had to cement the adventure.
“I laid Mia to bed and wrote [“One Time”] in 30 minutes,” he said. “It was mostly for myself. This was a beautiful night that I didn’t want to forget.”
On the flipside, “Lay Down Lay Low” doesn’t shy away from featuring snapshots of melancholy stories.
Case in point, the title song off the album was inspired by one of The Wheel’s friends “who came very close to jumping off the New River Gorge Bridge [in West Virginia], but decided not to,” said Wagler, who penned the song.
The friend told Wagler the story when he met him in the late 2000s, explaining that his issues stemmed from an abusive childhood.
Page 2 of 2 - Despite the track’s gloomy undertone, Wagler and his bandmates agreed it was vital to offer a balance of good and ugly on “Lay Down Lay Low,” because at the end of the day they’re just four regular guys who want to keep it real with their fans and themselves.
“We have a good history of talking about the stuff that brings us down and not shying away from that,” Wagler said. “That’s what the blues are all about.”