ReviewShine Wednesday: The Steel Wheels & The Honey Dewdrops

First off, I want to apologize for the lack of posts over this past week. I’ve had a touch of something nasty since Thursday (still do really) and haven’t really felt much like writing. I think I’m coming out of it, though. Hopefully things will get back to normal here soon.

Starting today with this week’s installment of ReviewShine Wednesday. Today, we’ll look at two acts with their feet firmly planted in traditional music.

First up are The Steel Wheels from Harrisonburg, Virginia. The Steel Wheels are a four piece band consisting of Brian Dickel on the upright bass, Eric Brubaker on the fiddle, Jay Lapp on guitars and mandolins, and Trent Wagler on guitars and banjos. As the primary songwriter and vocalist, Wagler also serves as the primary creative voice for the group. With that voice he brings a genuine love and respect for the traditions the band’s music is built around. Wagler was born to a musical family in Bean Blossom, Indiana (home to the famous music festival) and he began performing with his family’s band at the age of four.

On their new album, Red Wing, Wagler and the Wheels breeze through 14 tracks that honor the traditional sounds of a bygone time while still making the music fresh. That’s the case with the title track I’m sharing here. “Redwing” is traditionally played as an upbeat reel, but Wagler has reimagined it as a more down-tempo number with new original lyrics. The band is joined here by folk royalty Robin & Linda Williams.

The Steel Wheels: Redwing (Buy Album)

Up next is another Virginia act… The Honey Dewdrops. The Dewdrops are Laura Wortman and Kagey Parrish, a husband and wife duo from Scottsville, VA who have recently released their debut album If the Sun Will Shine. The album is composed of eleven tradition rich original songs that rely heavily on Laura and Kagey’s intuitive harmonies and an acoustic sound deeply rooted in the musical traditions of the American South. In fact, upon listening to the opening refrain of the lead off track “Bluest Blue Eyes,” it wouldn’t be hard to mistake this album for the newest release from Gillian Welch and Dave Rawings.

The Honey Dewdrops are still relatively new to the scene, but they have already received several accolades. Regular NPR listeners may know them as the winners of A Prairie Home Companion’s 2008 “People in their Twenties Talent Show” and finalists in the Mountain Stage NewSong competition in 2009. Here’s one from the new album.
The Honey Dewdrops: Bluest Blue Eyes (Buy Album)

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