Headliner :: The Steel Wheels
Opener :: Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno
The Steel Wheels
It takes time
For the seasons to change
It takes time, sometimes so much time
To welcome a reason not to stay the same
-“Time Is All I Need,” from Everyone a Song Vol. 2
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.