The Ninth Annual Fennville “Tuesdays in the Park” free community concert
series concludes on August 9 with a performance by the band The Steel Wheels. The concert will be
held at Memorial/Paradise Park on north Maple ST, downtown Fennville. Music
begins at 7PM. In case of inclement weather the concert will be held in the
lower level of the Fennville District Library.
Touring on bicycles The Steel
Wheels will use pedal power to travel to 10 shows in 10 days in 3 states,
stopping in Fennville for their August 9th performance as part of
their “Spokesongs” tour.
This is anything but touring as usual,” said Trent Wagler, lead vocalist
and instrumentalist, who initiated the idea for the bicycle tours several years
ago and recruited band mate Jay Lapp to establish the tradition of an annual
bike-and-music tour. “We’re all about doing things simply and differently both
in our music and in how we think about our work as professional musicians.
Spokesongs is a way for us to do a band tour differently, since we’re
essentially commuting to our jobs, and show how cycling is not only
recreational but a totally viable option for all kinds of everyday
It was in October 2009 that Wagler and Lapp launched out as The Steel Wheels Duo, climbing the
mountains of Virginia to perform seven shows in seven days while logging more
than 300 miles on their bicycles. They chronicled the experience in an article
published in Bicycle Times (June 2010 issue); a short documentary is also
available on the band’s web site www.thesteelwheels.com.
addition to Wagler and Lapp, bass player Brian Dickel and fiddler Oliver
Craven, both of whom also contribute backup vocals, will join this year’s
Spokesongs Tour. Dickel will stand out in the line of bikes with the largest
instrument on tour; Wagler and Lapp will carry several instruments each, and
all of the band members will carry their share of CDs and other merchandise.
who lives in Ann Arbor, said that he and Wagler have learned a lot about
cycling, endurance and finding unexpected support and inspiration on their
previous Spokesongs tours. Yet this year’s venture poses new challenges.
touring as a full band, which means towing a bass and a fiddle, too; you can
guess which one is going to be the toughest to haul,” Lapp said. “But you know,
Lollapalooza couldn’t roll into Chicago on bike wheels instead of in huge semi
trucks. So we have the opportunity to get people curious about why we’re doing
this and maybe get them thinking.”
The Steel Wheels have found support for their outside-of-the-ordinary tour
from Tree Fort Bikes, now in its third year sponsoring Spokesongs, and are
joined in generous sponsorship of the 2011 tour by Clif bar, Xtracycle,
Colorado Case Company and Fretwell Bass and Acoustic Instruments.
In turn, The Steel Wheels
will bring awareness on the tour to bicycle-friendly activities and
organizations, including hosting an Aug. 8 benefit concert for Lose the
Training Wheels, a not-for-profit group launched in 2007 with the mission of
teaching individuals with disabilities how to ride “conventional” bikes. The
goal is to cultivate not only the physical skills for life-long cycle, but to
develop independence, self-reliance and other skills. The organization’s web
site, at www.losethetrainingwheels.org, provides further description.
An official “Bike Blog” on the band’s web site will chronicle the trip,
and already contains new material about the unusual pre-tour preparation. In
addition, a film crew will follow The
Steel Wheels on their August bicycle odyssey to shoot footage for a
Wheels have also attracted plenty of attention on the Americana music scene.
The independent band’s album Red Wing
ranked in the Americana Music Association’s Top 100 Americana Albums of the
Year in 2010, having spent 13 weeks on the AMA’s Top 40 radio charts, topping
out at a 15th-place spot and, notably, finding its place as the
second-highest ranked album of all independently produced releases. The album
also cracked EuroAmericana Top 10 chart. Red
Wing racked up five nominations in the Independent Music Awards, winning
the “Best Song” category for “Nothing You Have That You Can’t Lose,” and was
named “one of the best albums of the year” by Maverick magazine. Red Wing is a testament to the many
forms roots music can take, exploring the regions between blues and bluegrass,
old-time sing-alongs and foot-stompin’ fiddle tunes.
“Imagine a blend of the passion of the Avett Brothers, the instrumentals
of Old Crow Medicine Show, and then sprinkle in the backwoods feel of The
Legendary Shack Shakers,“ wrote John Walker of Americana Roots. “In truth,
attempting to compare [The Steel Wheels]
to anyone is an injustice, since after one listen you can hear that they stand
very well on their own perch.”
The quartet recently brought their unmistakable authenticity, inspired
lyricism, alchemic musicianship, and powerhouse harmonies to internationally
recognized broadcasts: West Virginia public radio’s “Mountain Stage” and to
Chicago public radio station WFMT’s “Folkstage.” The “Mountain Stage” broadcast
in April was accompanied by tracks featured on the NPR Music site.
Martin Anderson, music director for the prominent North Carolina public
radio station WNCW, said, “There is purity and power in the sound of this band
that few come close to tapping. Tight pickin’, passionate energy, and Wagler’s
voice soars like an eagle.” Wagler, whose voice WDVX’s Red Hickey compared to
John Fogerty’s and Darrel Scott’s, penned most of the songs on Red Wing, including its title track; on
the album, that song features special guests Robin and Linda Williams – who,
like The Steel Wheels, are based in
Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley – providing back-up instrumentals and vocals. The
title track was tied at no. 8 on the Folk DJ Top Songs of March 2010 list, and
hit no. 21 on the Bluegrass Chart in April 2010.
Wheels have built a strong following from their backyard – the band was voted
“best original music in the Shenandoah Valley” – and from Vermont to Texas,
Calgary to New York, appearing at Americana festivals such as the Bristol
Rhythm & Roots Festival, Floydfest, Ocrafolk, Kerrville Folk Festival, and
Appalachian Uprising. The band enjoyed a featured showcase at Folk Alliance in
2011, and has performed on radio stations across the country for the past
Find more information – music tracks, a tour schedule, band blog,
newsletter sign-up and band member bios – at www.thesteelwheels.com
.. The band welcomes friends at facebook.com/thesteelwheels.
Steel Wheels are available for interviews and live radio performances. Contact
Lucy at email@example.com
Free to the public the concerts are sponsored by the following
Alexander’s Drug Store, Allegan Community Federal Credit Union, Allegan
County News, Birds Eye Foods LLC, Charles P. Schreiner Photography, Chemical
Bank, City of Fennville Downtown Development Authority, Crane’s Pie Pantry
Restaurant, Cris’ Hairstyling, Darpel and Associates Builders Inc., Dickinson
True Value Hardware, Fenn Valley Vineyards, Fennville Family Medicine,
Fennville Main Street Market, Fennville Station Dining Coach & Lounge, Fennville Tire Center, Formed
Solutions Inc., Greater Fennville Chamber of Commerce, Hidden Pond B&B,
Hilliard Lyons, Lakeshore Lodging, Lakeside Electric of Fennville LLC, Mac’s
Landing Vet Services, Pleasant Hill Farm, Renzema Dentistry, Robert Hutchinson,
Salt of the Earth-rustic American eatery, Septic Tank Systems Co. Inc.
Bring a lawn chair and a picnic
dinner and enjoy Tuesdays in the Park. Visit the Chamber website at www.greaterfennville.com for more information. Anyone wishing to contribute toward concert
sponsorship should contact Martha Wickett-Schrock at 269.561.2420 or email firstname.lastname@example.org