The Steel Wheels Release New LP Sideways

Article Contributed by Missing Piece Group | Published on Friday, February 9, 2024

Today, Virginia-based Americana pioneers The Steel Wheels have released new album Sideways via the band’s own Big Ring Records. Produced by Sam Kassirer (Lake Street Dive, Langhorne Slim, Josh Ritter), Sideways is at once a meditation on the nonlinear nature of personal growth and a joyous celebration of life. The band also shared the stop-motion video for the title track directed by Stefan Zeniuk. The abstract clip tells the story of a lonely woman searching for a companion in a vast barren desert landscape and was praised by Holler who called it “extraordinary” and said “…the suitably naïve animation works its magic to transform the music it’s set to, as it further explores the song’s dark undercurrents.” Later this month, the band will play Folk Alliance and will perform at the organization’s International Folk Music Awards before heading back out on the road for their album release tour. Find a full list of tour dates below or visit

Listen to Sideways

Watch the official “Sideways” music video

“It’s beautiful and crushing to be alive sometimes,” shares frontman Trent Wagler. “We aren’t here to sing songs that only cut one way—but if they do, they’ll cut sideways.”

Nearly 20 years after debuting as an all-acoustic string band, The Steel Wheels have crafted an expansive album that mixes their knack for crafting big pop hooks with traditional Appalachian instrumentation. Taking influence from psychedelic rock, pop, jam and more to expand upon their distinct, well-established sound, Sideways covers heavy topics such as grief, loss, fatherhood and mental health, beautifully strung together with a duo of instrumental interludes that at once honor where they’ve been and where they’d like to go.

“We’re more than a string band, what we do has fundamentally changed from four guys around a mic. This was clearest to me when we were writing Sideways. I realized we were being influenced by so much other music, just overall paying attention to a broader palette of sound, not so focused on our own little world.”

The album has already attracted acclaim from No Depression, Relix, Folk Alley, Wide Open Country, The Bluegrass Situation, Magnet, Americana Highways, Glide Magazine and many more.  

The band first collaborated with Kassirer on 2017’s critically-acclaimed Wild As We Came Here, which features the now ubiquitous alt-folk battlecry “Scrape Me Off the Ceiling.” Through it all, The Steel Wheels have been about creating a community and sharing the experience of humanity with one another. Nowhere is this more evident than at the Red Wing Roots Music Festival, founded by the band in 2013. Taking place in the Shenandoah Valley, the festival has featured performances by Lucinda Williams, Billy Strings, Steve Earle & The Dukes, The Mavericks, Old Crow Medicine Show, Robert Earl Keen, Dawes, Trampled By Turtles and more. The 11th annual festival will take place from June 21-23 and will include performances by Kurt Vile & The Violators, Bonny Light Horsemen, Brent Cobb, Amy Helm, Margo Cilker, Lindsay Lou and more.

The Steel Wheels is Trent Wagler (vocals/guitar/banjo), Jay Lapp (guitar/mandolin/ vocals), Eric Brubaker (fiddle/vocals), Kevin Garcia (drums/percussion/mallet keyboards), Jeremy Darrow (bass).

The Steel Wheels 2023 + 2024 Tour Dates
February 22-23 – Kansas City, MO @ Folk Alliance International
February 24 – Cedar Rapids, IA @ CSPS
February 25 – Minneapolis, MN @ The Parkway Theater
February 26 – Duluth, MN @ The West Theatre
February 27 – Milwaukee, WI @ Shank Hall
February 28 – Berwyn, IL @ FitzGerald’s
February 29 – Ann Arbor, MI @ The Ark
March 1 – Cincinnati, OH @ Ludlow Garage
March 2 – Asheville, NC @ The Salvage Station *
March 3 – Columbia, SC @ The Senate *
March 21 – Live Oak, FL @ Suwanee Spring Reunion
March 22 – Macon, GA @ Grant’s Lounge
March 23 – Athens, GA @ 40 Watt Club
March 24 – Charleston, SC @ Charleston Pour House
March 26 – Wilmington, NC @ Brooklyn Arts Center
March 27 – Richmond, VA @ The Broadberry
March 28 – Hagerstown, MD @ Live at Hub City Vinyl
March 29 – Lancaster, PA @ West Art
March 30 – Annapolis, MD @ Rams Head On Stage - Matinee
May 22 – Wichita, KS @ WAVE

* - with Donna The Buffalo