Saturday, May 21, 2022: Aoife O'Donovan Opener: The Wildmans
Saturday, June 4, 2022: Sierra Hull
Friday, June 17, 2022: Shakey Graves Opener: Bendigo Fletcher
Saturday, June 18, 2022: Madison Cunningham Opener: Jordan Tice
Saturday, July 2, 2022: Chris Knight Opener: John R. Miller
Saturday, July 23, 2022: Tim O'Brien
Saturday, August 13, 2022: Watkins Family Hour Opener: Scott Miller
Saturday, August 27, 2022: Dan Tyminski Band Opener: John Doyle
Saturday, September 3, 2022: Love Canon and Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley
Saturday, September 10, 2022: Rockbridge Beer & Wine Festival (presented by the Lexington-Rockbridge Chamber of Commerce)
Saturday, September 17, 2022: The Milk Carton Kids Opener: Kaia Kater
Saturday, October 8, 2022: The Steel Wheels Opener: Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno
SEASON PASSES SOLD OUT
Our passes sold out in record time this year, but you can still buy tickets for individual shows below.
Saturday, May 21, 2022
Opener: The Wildmans
Sponsor: Dynovis, Inc.
Reflection, remembrances, and self-reckoning combine on Aoife O'Donovan's third solo album, where her gift for tantalizing poetry is woven into a soundscape more rich and vivid than any she's created before. Age of Apathy is an album that traces a journey through grown-up life and ponders the question facing both singer and listener alike: what do you want from yourself?
The 11 tracks on this record came together in an extraordinarily fertile few months, sparked by O'Donovan's move out of New York in September 2020. Transplanted to the lush forests of central Florida, O'Donovan found something she'd never known before: the time and space to craft an album away from a packed performing schedule and the rigors of the road.
For someone who admits that writing can be a struggle, the process was electrifying. "I felt I'd entered into a creative period unlike anything else I'd ever done," says O'Donovan. It's impossible to feel the groove of "Phoenix" -- a celebration of her muse's return -- or hear the cosmic uplift of the album-closer, "Passengers," without absorbing her own joy-filled experience.
Tickets are $30 in advance or $35 at the door.
Show starts at 7:30pm.
Doors open at 6:00pm.
The Wildmans come from the hills of Floyd, Virginia, in the heart of the Appalachian mountain music tradition. From campsite jamming at festivals and fiddler's conventions and a college level music education comes the foundation for musical exploration that sets this group apart, taking the audience on a musical journey that reflects the growth and passion of these talented musicians.
The band features award winning players: Eli Wildman, first place winner in mandolin at the Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention, 2018 and 2019, first place winner at the Mount Airy Fiddler’s 2017, 2018, 2019; Aila Wildman, first place winner in Old Time Fiddle and Best All Around Performer at the 83rd annual Galax Old Fiddlers convention in 2018; and Victor Furtado, winner of the 2019 Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo, and first place Old Time Banjo at Galax 2015, 2016 and 2019.
The group has appeared on stages large and small, performing in festivals such as Red Wing Roots, Chantilly Farm's Bluegrass and BBQ festival, Grey Fox Bluegrass, Floyd Fest, and The Steep Canyon Rangers’ Mountain Song Festival. They also regularly represent young talent along the Crooked Road in regional fiddler’s conventions. Having shared the stage with talents such as Bela Fleck, The Steep Canyon Rangers, The Steel Wheels, Danny Knicely, Sammy Shelor, Sierra Hull, Billy Strings, and more, these young musicians are making their way in the American string band scene.
Saturday, June 4, 2022
Sierra Hull's positively stellar career started early. That is, if you consider a Grand Ole Opry debut at age 10, called back to the famed stage a year later to perform with her hero and mentor Alison Krauss to be early. She played Carnegie Hall at 12; at 13 signed with Rounder Records and issued her debut, Secrets, and garnered the first of many nominations for Mandolin Player of the Year. She played the Kennedy Center at 16 and the next year became the first bluegrass musician to receive a Presidential Scholarship at the Berklee College of Music. As a 20-year-old, Hull played the White House.
It's only a two-hour drive to Nashville from her tiny hometown hamlet of Byrdstown, Tennessee. Hull credits her family for paving the first few miles to Music Row. Her mother, holding her as a toddler, taught her to sing. She ran next door to hear Uncle Junior pick mandolin, and listened intently to the church choir on Sundays. Her Christmas gift- a full-sized fiddle- proved too daunting. While waiting for a smaller replacement, her father showed her some notes on the mandolin. Hull was hooked, soon known as the eight-year-old wowing the locals at bluegrass jams.
She found inspiration in Krauss, Ricky Skaggs, and Sam Bush. And, just as importantly, affirmed her own sense of identity in the album covers of Rhonda Vincent, the queen of bluegrass. She heard the words of her parents, prepping her for life's big moments yet to come, repeatedly instilling the mantra: Hard work, more than anything, will get you somewhere. It certainly did.
Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door.
Show starts at 8:00pm.
Doors open at 6:30pm.
Friday, June 17, 2022
Opener: Bendigo Fletcher
Sponsor: Robert L. Faulkner & Son, Inc.
The prehistory of Shakey Graves exists in two overstuffed folders. Inside them, artifacts document an immense era of anonymous DIY creativity, from 2007 through 2010 - the three years before Roll The Bones came out and changed his life.
There are stencils, lyrics, drawings, prototypes for concert posters, and even a zine. The latter, which Graves - aka Alejandro Rose-Garcia - wrote and illustrated, tells the tale of a once-courageous, now retired mouse who must journey to the moon to save his sweetheart. At the time, he envisioned the photocopied storybook as a potential vessel for releasing his music.
“There was a lot of conceptualizing going on - trying to figure out what I wanted stuff to look like, sound like, and be like,” Rose-Garcia recalls, shuffling through the physical files on his second-story deck in South Austin. “And, honestly, a lot of trying to keep myself from going crazy.”
In this lode of unreleased ephemera, CD-Rs are the most bountiful element. There are dozens of burned discs with widely varying track lists, loosely resembling what would become the Austin native’s 2011 breakout debut Roll the Bones. For Rose-Garcia, who’s long loved the incongruous art form of sequencing strange mixtapes for friends, his own record was subject to change every time he burned a disc for somebody. Consistency didn’t matter, he asserts, because there was no demand or expectations.
Thus Roll the Bones was by no means a Big Bang creation story, rather a years long process of metamorphosis where literally hundreds of tracks were winnowed down into ten. As the album took shape, he began manufacturing one-off editions of the CD, stapled to self-destruct in brown paper, with black and white photographs glued upon them, and an ink pen marking of the artist's enduring logo: a skull struck by an arrow.
“I liked that if they were opened, you couldn’t close them again,” he smiles. “Sometimes I’d spray paint the CD so they looked good and people would stick them in their car stereo and it would fuse in and never come out. They’d tell me, ‘You’re lucky I like this record because it’s the last one I’ll ever be able to listen to in my car.’”
The full-length debut from Bendigo Fletcher, Fits of Laughter is a collection of moments both enchanted and mundane, sorrowful and ecstatic: basking in the beauty of a glorious lightning storm, waking with a strand of your beloved’s hair happily caught in your mouth, drinking malt liquor while bingeing “The X-Files” on a lonesome Saturday night. As lead songwriter for the Louisville, KY-based band, frontman Ryan Anderson crafts the patchwork poetry of his lyrics by serenely observing the world around him, often while working his grocery-store day job or walking aimlessly in nature (a practice partly borrowed from the late poet Mary Oliver). When matched with Bendigo Fletcher’s gorgeously jangly collision of country and folk-rock and dreamy psychedelia, the result is a batch of story-songs graced with so much raw humanity, wildly offbeat humor, and a transcendent sense of wonder.
True to its spirit of purposeful wandering, Fits of Laughter unfolds in a wayward yet lushly detailed sound, embroidered with everything from crystalline harmonies to blistering guitar riffs to heady drum-machine beats. For help in forging the album’s ragged elegance, Bendigo Fletcher worked with producer Ken Coomer (the original drummer for Wilco and Uncle Tupelo), whom Anderson met in a flash of strange serendipity. Soon after he’d connected with Coomer via phone and bonded over a shared affection for Pink Floyd’s Obscured by Clouds, the band headed to Nashville to record in Coomer’s Cartoon Moon Studio, laying down the album’s eight songs in nine frenetic days
Saturday, June 18, 2022
Opener: Jordan Tice
Sponsor: Lexington & Rockbridge Area Tourism
With its sharp storytelling and bursts of electric guitar, Who Are You Now is Madison Cunningham's coming-of-age record — a diverse album that's modern, melodic, and rooted in the 21 year-old's observations of her own fast-changing world.
"The past year was a largely transitional one for me. It felt like all at once I was living in a new city and a new era of my life, trying to find where I fit, what I believed, and who my people were. It doesn't matter how many great examples you have to look up to, when it’s your turn to face adulthood, you feel like you’re scrambling for the right tools. Writing this record really forced me to take an honest look at where I came from, what my dreams and fears were, and who I was becoming as a result.”
Cunningham began searching for answers during her childhood in Orange County, California. A guitarist since the age of 7, she began performing alongside her father — a worship pastor and lifelong musician — at a local church. By 15 years old, she was writing her own songs and exploring her own voice as a musician.
Playing an integral role in that process was Tyler Chester, a multi-instrumentalist and studio guru who'd worked with artists like Jackson Browne, Blake Mills, and Andrew Bird. Later, after leaving home and moving to Los Angeles, Cunningham's list of champions grew to encompass the likes of Sara Watkins, Chris Thile, and the Milk Carton Kids' Joey Ryan.
Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door.
Show starts at 7:30pm.
Doors open at 6:00pm.
Jordan Tice is a singer/songwriter who combines witty musings on life, relationships, and time with deft finger-picking acoustic guitar skills. On his 5th record, Motivational Speakeasy, he breaks it down to just his voice and acoustic guitar for a collection of music that is while deeply informed by the rich history of American folk music, forward-thinking and modern in its conceit. Produced by Kenneth Pattengale (of The Milk Carton Kids), Motivational Speakeasy contains evidence of a variety of influences. From the classic Mississippi John Hurt style melodic blues of "Matter of Time" and "Goin on Down", to the dissonant Tom Waits-like shuffle of "Creation's Done" to the philosophical early Dylanesque chatter of "Walkin'" and "Where I'm At", Tice spins his influences into a variety of highly personal, well-crafted songs. In addition, the album contains 3 instrumental tracks where Tice showcases his narrative guitar-playing and composing.
Saturday, July 2, 2022
Opener: John R. Miller
Sponsor: Leslie Excavating & Landscaping, LLC
“It’s hard to know how people are gonna react,” Chris Knight says of Almost Daylight, his ninth album and first new recording in over seven years. “I’ve written songs about a lot of different things going all the way back to my first record, and some folks still think ‘somebody kills somebody’ is all I write about. Maybe that’s why I was bound and determined to get these particular songs on this album. If people like them, then we’ll be fine. But I wasn’t gonna do it any other way.”
For the past 20 years, Chris Knight has only made music his own way. He’s released eight acclaimed albums, played thousands of electrifying live shows and built generations of fervent fans from Texas honky-tonks to Manhattan rock clubs. He’s been hailed as “the last of a dying breed…a taciturn loner with an acoustic guitar and a college degree” (The New York Times) and “a storyteller in the best traditions of Mellencamp and Springsteen” (USA Today). Bottom line, he’s hard-earned his reputation as one of America’s most uncompromising and respected singer/songwriters. And now with Almost Daylight, Knight delivers the most powerful – and unexpected – music of his career.
John R. Miller
John R Miller is a true hyphenate artist: singer-songwriter-picker. Every song on his thrilling debut solo album, Depreciated, is lush with intricate wordplay and haunting imagery, as well as being backed by a band that is on fire. One of his biggest long-time fans is roots music favorite Tyler Childers, who says he's "a well-travelled wordsmith mapping out the world he's seen, three chords at a time." Miller is somehow able to transport us to a shadowy honkytonk and get existential all in the same line with his tightly written compositions. Miller's own guitar-playing is on fine display here along with vocals that evoke the white-waters of the Potomac River rumbling below the high ridges of his native Shenandoah Valley.
Depreciated is a collection of eleven gems that take us to his homeplace even while exploring the way we can't go home again, no matter how much we might ache for it. On the album, Miller says he was eager to combine elements of country, folk, blues, and rock to make his own sound. Recently lost heroes like Prine, Walker, and Shaver served as guideposts for the songcrafting but Miller has completely achieved his own sound. The album is almost novelistic in its journey, not only to the complicated relationship Miller has with the Shenandoah Valley but also into the mind of someone going through transitions. "I wrote most of these songs after finding myself single and without a band for the first time in a long while," Miller says. "I stumbled to Nashville and started to figure things out, so a lot of these have the feel of closing a chapter."
Saturday, July 23, 2022
Sponsor: Lexington Real Estate Connection
Born in Wheeling, West Virginia in 1954, Grammy winning singer songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Tim O’Brien grew up singing in church and in school. After seeing Doc Watson on TV, became a lifelong devotee of old time and bluegrass music. Tim started touring nationally in 1978 with Colorado bluegrass band Hot Rize. His songs “Walk the Way the Wind Blows” and “Untold Stories” were bluegrass hits for Hot Rize, and country hits for Kathy Mattea. Soon more artists like Nickel Creek, Garth Brooks, and The Dixie Chicks covered his songs. Over the years, Tim has collaborated with his sister Mollie O’Brien, songwriter Darrell Scott, and noted old time musician Dirk Powell, as well as with Steve Earle, Mark Knopfler, Dan Auerbach and Sturgill Simpson. Living in Nashville since 1996, O’Brien’s skills on guitar, mandolin, fiddle, and banjo make him an in demand session player. He tours throughout the US and abroad, most often with his partner Jan Fabricius on mandolin and vocals. His regular band includes Fabricius along with Mike Bub (bass) and Shad Cobb (fiddle). The International Bluegrass Music Association awarded him song of the year in 2006 and named him best male vocalist in 1993 and 2006. He was inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in 2013. A voracious reader who loves to cook, he has two sons, Jackson (born 1982) and Joel (born 1990). Notable O’Brien recordings include the bluegrass Dylan covers of “Red On Blonde”, the Celtic-Appalachian fusion of “The Crossing”, and the Grammy winning folk of “Fiddler’s Green”. His duet recording “Real Time” with Darrell Scott is a cult favorite, and he won a bluegrass Grammy as part of “The Earls Of Leicester”. His 2017 release “Where the River Meets the Road”paid tribute to the music of his native West Virginia. O’Brien formed his own record label, Howdy Skies Records, in 1999, and launched the digital download label Short Order Sessions (SOS) with his partner Jan Fabricius in 2015.
Saturday, August 13, 2022
Watkins Family Hour
Opener: Scott Miller
Sponsor: A donation in honor of The Ford Family
Returning to the studio as Watkins Family Hour, Sean and Sara Watkins consider brother sister a duo-centric record–yet one that feels bigger than just two people. With Sean primarily on guitar and Sara on fiddle, and with both of them sharing vocals, the siblings enlisted producer MikeViola (Jenny Lewis, Mandy Moore, J.S. Ondara) and mixer-engineer Clay Blair to harness the energy and honesty of their live sound.
“From the beginning, our goal was to work on these songs to be as strong as they could be, just the two of us,” Sara explains. “And with a few exceptions on the record, that’s really how things were. It was a tight little group of us, working dense days where we could squeeze them in.”
Sean (who is four years older than Sara) adds, “Because of the limited amount of time we had collectively to spend in the studio, there was a general sense of urgency, which I think the three of us (Sara, Mike and I) kinda strive for on these days.We didn’t have that much time and that made it fun and exciting. It was just us, in one room, facing each other with some really great mics, often playing and singing at the same time, trying to capture what Sara and I do in a real way.”
For the first time, the Los Angeles-based siblings carved out time to write with each other, often during the nap time of Sara’s toddler.They took early versions of the new songs to Viola, who instinctively rearranged some of the song structures in an effort to draw attention to interesting lyrics or surprising arrangements.
Recently inducted to the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame, fiery roots-rock singer/songwriter Scott Miller returned to his native Virginia to tend the family farm while continuing to release and perform new music informed by that rural area, history, and Appalachia. The Staunton native first made a name for himself in the '90s as guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter with the superb pop/rock band the V-Roys before establishing himself as a gifted and eclectic solo artist, first with his ad hoc group the Commonwealth and later on his own.
"[Miller combines] the emotional honesty and intelligence of a singer/songwriter with the swagger and enthusiasm of a rock & roller... a gifted and eclectic solo artist." (AllMusic.com). As seen on tour with Patty Griffin, Robbie Fulks, Paul Thorn and American Aquarium.
Saturday, August 27, 2022
Dan Tyminski Band
Opener: John Doyle
Sponsor: Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group
Throughout his 30+ year career, Dan Tyminski has left his mark in every corner of modern music. Tyminski’s voice famously accompanies George Clooney's performance of the Stanley Brother's classic song, "I'm A Man of Constant Sorrow," in the film, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou and his vocal collaboration with Swedish DJ Avicii on the song “Hey, Brother” was a global smash, having been streamed over 1 billion times to date.
Dan has also contributed guitar and/or harmony to projects by Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Brad Paisley, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Kenny Chesney, LeAnn Rimes, Aaron Lewis and Rob Thomas, to name a few. In addition to his highly successful solo career, Dan Tyminski has played guitar and mandolin for Alison Krauss and Union Station since 1994. His unmatched instrumental skills and burnished, soulful tenor voice have been key components of the band.
Dan has been honored with 14 Grammy Awards, was named Male Vocalist of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association 4x and was recognized as 2004’s Male Vocalist of the Year by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America.
Impossibly in demand in the studio and on the road, immensely talented and blessed with an acute ear, a wicked sense of rhythm and seemingly endless stream of magic in his playing, composing, performing and producing, John Doyle is solidly establishing himself as one of the most versatile, creative and prolific voices in folk and traditional Irish music.
In 1994 John brought his brilliant and innovative guitar stylings to the nascent Irish super-group Solas, which soon took the folk and Celtic music worlds by storm. In the years since going out on his own, John has recorded two solo albums, including Wayward Son, which The Irish Edition hailed as “a contender for Album of the Year;” and has become a highly sought-after accompanist and session player for the likes of Joan Baez, Eileen Ivers, Tim O’Brien, Linda Thompson, Seamus Egan, Alison Brown and Kate Rusby; and has developed compelling duo performances, first with fiddler Liz Carroll and more recently with Solas’ co-founding vocalist Karan Casey.
Saturday, September 3, 2022
Love Canon and Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley
Sponsor: Spencer Home Center
LOVE CANON brings their acoustic-roots sensibilities to the electronic-tinged pop hits of the 80’s and 90’s to create Cover Story, their 4th album, due out on Organic Records July 13, 2018. With Cover Story, LOVE CANON delivers a fresh set of classics, crossing genres to recount music of decades past from the likes of Peter Gabriel, Billy Joel, Depeche Mode, and Paul Simon. The self-produced album hosts a plethora of special guests including Jerry Douglas, Aoife O’Donovan, Keller Williams, Michael Cleveland, and Eric Krasno, among others.
The band’s diehard fans are music lovers first and are drawn to the charismatic and wide-ranging vocal stylings of lead singer and guitarist Jesse Harper matched with banjo master Adam Larrabee, mandolin pickin’ by Andy Thacker, Darrell Muller holding down the low-end on standup bass, and the slick sounds of resonator guitar king Jay Starling on the Beard MA-6. It’s acoustic rock! Acclaimed fiddler Alex Hargreaves [Turtle Island Quartet, Sarah Jarosz] does all of the fiddling on this record with the exception of two tracks, and he occasionally joins them on tour.
As seasoned virtuoso string players who have been touring the mid-Atlantic since 2010, LOVE CANON stays true to the approach, arrangements, and keen artistry of these nostalgic hits. Cover Story was engineered by Rob Evans at Dave Matthews Band's Haunted Hollow Studio in LOVE CANON’s hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia and mixed by Wayne Pooley, Bruce Hornsby’s Engineer/Producer. Cover Story is a follow up to the band’s previous efforts, Greatest Hits Volumes 1-3.
Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley
Take a 15-time IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) Dobro Player of the Year and a Tennessee-born guitar prodigy who made his Grand Ole Opry debut at the age of 11, and you have Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley, a powerhouse acoustic duo that has electrified the acoustic music scene.
On their new Compass Records album, WORLD FULL OF BLUES, they move beyond the acoustic-centric sound of their previous two releases (including the GRAMMY-nominated BEFORE THE SUN GOES DOWN) and juice things up with Hammond B3 and a horn section. Guests include blues great Taj Mahal, who provides his unmistakable mojo to the title track, and country music legend Vince Gill, who joins the duo on an inspired rendition of The Grateful Dead’s moonshiner song, “Brown-Eyed Women”.
White-hot picking and stone country vocals are still the driving force of the duo, but now with added grit and a nod to the rootsier side of Americana, all aided by the guiding hand of GRAMMY winning producer Brent Maher. Maher, known for his production and engineering of such diverse artists as The Judds, Faces, and Ike and Tina Turner, loved the duo’s demos and signed on to produce immediately upon hearing them.
Saturday, September 10, 2022
Rockbridge Beer & Wine Festival
Presented by the Lexington-Rockbridge Chamber of Commerce
Learn more about the Rockbridge Beer & Wine Festival and purchase tickets online by clicking the link below!
Saturday, September 17, 2022
The Milk Carton Kids
Opener: Kaia Kater
Sponsor: CornerStone Bank
Listening to The Milk Carton Kids -- Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale -- talk about their creative process, it’s easy to imagine them running in opposite directions even while yoked together. “Joey and I famously have an adversarial relationship,” Pattengale says. They dig at each other in interviews and on stage, where Ryan plays his own straight man, while Pattengale tunes his guitar. The songs emerge somewhere in the silences and the struggle between their sensibilities. They have been known to argue over song choices. They have been known to argue about everything from wardrobe to geography to grammar. But their singing is the place where they make room for each other and the shared identity that rises out of their combined voices. Defying the conventions of melody and harmony is a strategy The Milk Carton Kids have consciously embraced. “Sometimes we’ll switch parts for a beat or a bar or a note,” Ryan says. “And that starts to obfuscate what is the melody and what is the supporting part because we think of both of them being strong enough to stand alone.”
“There are only so many things you can do alone in life that allow you to transcend your sense of self for even a short period,” Pattengale continues. “I’m the lucky recipient of a life in which for hundreds of times, day after day, I get to spend an hour that is like speaking a language only two people know and doing it in a space with others who want to hear it.
The Only Ones, the group’s new record (out now on the band’s own Milk Carton Records imprint in partnership with Thirty Tigers), finds Ryan and Pattengale performing a stripped-down acoustic set without a backing band. On The Only Ones, the pair returns to the core of what they are about musically: the duo.
Kaia draws on her diverse influences in Quebec, the Caribbean, and Appalachia, bringing them together to present an exciting musical direction. Known for her prowess as a songwriter and tradition bearer who performs with “the skill of a folk-circuit veteran”
(Rolling Stone), Grenadian-Canadian artist took a decidedly different direction for Grenades. What started out as a search to discover the roots of her identity became a physical and emotional exploration of history, in particular her paternal ancestry, and has led to bold new heights of imagination and creative expression.
She grew up between two worlds: one her family’s deep ties to the Canadian folk music scene; the other the years she spent soaking up Appalachian music in West Virginia. Her father grew up in Grenada, fleeing to Canada in 1986 as part of a youth speaker program, after the U.S. invasion. Starting her career early, Kaia released her first EP Old Soul (2013) when she was just out of high school. Since then, she’s gone on to release two more albums, Sorrow Bound (2015) and Nine Pin (2016). Her most recent album weaves between hard-hitting songs that touch on social issues like the Black Lives Matter movement and more personal narratives speaking to life and love in the digital age. Nine Pin won a CanadianFolk Music Award, a Stingray Rising Star Award, and sent Kaia on an 18-month touring journey from Ireland to Iowa, including stops at The Kennedy Center, Hillside Festival and London's O2 Shepherd's Bush.
Saturday, October 8, 2022
The Steel Wheels
Opener: Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno
Sponsor: Parapet Wealth Management of Raymond James
The Steel Wheels have long been at home in the creative space between tradition and innovation, informed by the familiar sounds of the Virginia mountains where the band was formed, but always moving forward with insightful lyrics and an evolving sound. In 2005, Jay Lapp (vocals, guitars, mandolin) and Eric Brubaker (vocals, fiddle) joined lead singer Trent Wagler (guitar, banjo) in forming the band as a vehicle for Wagler’s songwriting. They released several albums under Wagler’s moniker, before officially adopting the The Steel Wheels name with the 2010 release of Red Wing. Quickly staking their claim as independent upstarts in the burgeoning Americana scene, The Steel Wheels followed up this release with three more self-produced albums in the next five years, before joining forces with producer Sam Kassirer for Wild As We Came Here (2017) and Over The Trees (2019). Kevin Garcia (drums, percussion, keys) joined in 2017, bringing a new level of sonic depth and polish to the outfit. Having gained the experience of thousands of shows, festivals and many miles on the road, the stubbornly independent band has formed deep bonds with each other and the audience that sustains them.
The Steel Wheels have responded to this time of isolation and loss by seeking to connect with their audience in new ways. In 2020, unable to perform their rootsy brand of Americana for crowds in live settings, the musicians turned their creative powers to crafting songs for individuals. Produced in isolation in the band’s home studios, the Everyone a Song albums are part of an ongoing project to collect the personal experiences of fans and forge them into that most enduring, yet ephemeral, format we call “song.” An accompanying podcast, We Made You a Song, explores the stories behind these songs, and the songwriting process itself. While each song was commissioned to honor a specific relationship or event—a birth, a wedding, a memory of home—the emotions evoked are universal.
Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno
Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno play old-soul roots music, fluidly melding a backbone of Appalachian traditional music with fresh iconic melodies and the tightly wound vocal harmonies of indie folk. Both Vivian Leva and Riley Calcagno, now just out of college, grew up steeped in old-time music, Leva in Lexington, Virginia and Calcagno in Seattle, Washington. After meeting in 2016 they soon collaborated on Leva’s debut record Time is Everything which Rolling Stone wrote “shone a light on the past without giving up its place in the present.” In support of the record, they embarked on an extensive tour that stretched to the most northern reaches of Canada and overseas to Europe. Over the course of these varied and occasionally lonesome shows and travels, the pair developed their collaboration into a distinct sound that led to the imagination and writing of their new eponymous record Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno, out now on Free Dirt Records.
Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno have emerged as two of the most promising young roots artists. Indeed, Saving Country Music writes that, “Individually, Vivian Leva and Riley Calcagno are already two of the most exciting, promising, and talented up-and-comers in most all of roots music, fluidly moving through old time, bluegrass, and classic country modes with an ease of execution, and displaying a passion for the enterprise of reviving old music that is infectious with the audience. Put them together, and they’re even greater than the sum of their parts, intertwining disciplines and influences seamlessly until it comprises a roots music symphony of two.” Whether they are playing as a duo or with award winning stringband The Onlies, it is clear that Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno are deeply invested in the future of roots music.