The Southern rock tradition is alive and well.
Carrying on in the tradition of Southern musical heroes Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers and more recent rockers like Derek Trucks are The Steel Woods, a country rock quartet raised on the blues and heavy guitar riffs that have made the Southern, whiskey drenched rock growl so familiar and appealing for so long.
The Steel Woods formed in 2014 and are out on the road now in support of their latest record, Old News, which the band laid down during a week long recording session at Asheville’s famed Echo Mountain Studio. The band’s third recording, following an initial EP and Straw In The Wind, the group’s first long player, Old News marks the first time that the entire quartet – Wes Bayliss, Jason Cope, Johnny Stanton, and Jay Tooke – worked a recording project together.
Evidence of the band’s growth and cohesiveness are evident on the record, and the band’s live set continues to develop, as these road warriors wear out a stage with their driving rhythms and crunching guitars.
I recently caught up with Bayliss and Stanton to chat about life on the road.
BRO – Best sign, when you walk into a room, that it’s going to be a good night?
WB – With the new record out, we’ve been playing songs that we don’t expect people to know yet, but there were a few nights a while back that we opened with songs that were just released that same week and the crowd was singing along. That’s always a sign that it’s going to be a good one.
BRO – What are you guys listening to in the van these days?
JS – Wes likes to get on an 80s and 90s country kick that can be pretty fun. Some songs I’ve never heard, some that I’ve forgotten about, and some that I love. And I recently stayed up and put together a blues playlist that captures a lot of my favorites.
BRO – Must have item in the green room?
JS – Being able to take a shower is a must, whether it’s at the venue or the hotel room. We all drink different forms of caffeine, so having a variety of coffee and Red Bull is a must.
BRO – One item you can’t hit the road without?
WB – I have to be careful who I’m talking to about this one, but I feel like I’m not going to get any head shaking from y’all. One of the few things I don’t leave home without is a handgun of some sort, whether it be a full size 1911 or a 380 pocket pistol. I’m not going to get caught without a way to defend myself and those around me. I’m not paranoid, nor does the thought of having to use it even cross my mind that often, it’s just a good habit that I made a long time ago and one that I don’t intend to break.
BRO – Best way to stay awake during a late night drive?
WB – Aside from listening to my award winning 80s/90s country playlist, a lot of my writing is done behind the wheel. I’ve written full songs while driving and just singing in my head without ever picking up a guitar. Some have turned out good, some have never made it on paper, but even the terrible ones did their job in keeping my mind busy and the bus on the road. Also, I have this really cool game that has to do with letters and road signs that nobody ever wants to play.
BRO – Festival you and the band would like to play?
JS – I’d like to see us play at the New Orleans Jazz Fest at some point. That festival encompasses a lof of different genres beyond jazz. Plus, there vibe is great there with all the people, food, etc.
BRO – City you can’t wait to play again?
WB – Well, Johnson City, of course. We love to play anywhere the fans show up. I will say I’m really looking forward to going back to Montana this year. we spent a little time out there a while back and it is one of the most beautiful places in the country.
Fans of honest to goodness Southern friend country rock in Northeast Tennessee won’t have to
travel all the way to Big Sky country to catch The Steel Woods. The band will be rolling into Capone’s in Johnson City this Saturday, and Trail Mix wants to give you a chance to grab a couple tickets.
Take a shot at the trivia question down below. A winner of two tickets will be chosen from all correct responses received by 3:00 P.M. tomorrow (Friday, March 1st).
Question – The Steel Woods pay homage to to what Southern rock icons with their cover of “Whipping Post”
on their new record?