While performing around North America with his band The Steel Wheels, singer Trent Wagler gained a deeper appreciation for the quality and variety of undiscovered musicians around the continent.
“I realized there is such an incredible collection of talented musicians all over the country and world that don’t ever get the recognition of the ‘Top 40,’ ” he remarked.
After a few years of meeting fellow performers on the road, as well as experiencing “great music” at festivals such as Stage Coach in California or Canmore Folk in Canada, Wagler says the band was motivated to “bring that [experience] home.”
The band started envisioning a festival in the Shenandoah Valley that would feature roots music, which Wagler defined as traditional music with authentic stories.
“[Roots music is] what we call the celebration of music from all over the world,” he explained, adding that it can include a variety of styles, such as Celtic, bluegrass, Cajun, old-time music or rock and roll.
In order to make their vision “come to life,” the band partnered with Black Bear Productions, and together they created the Redwing Roots Music Festival.
The event, which will take place at Natural Chimneys Park from July 12-14, features performances by 40 artists, including the Del McCoury Band, Tim O’Brien, The Sam Bush Band, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and The Steel Wheels.
“We tried to pick some [bands] who are legends, and some who are unknowns,” said Wagler. “But we believe every band is worth seeing.”
One of those musicians, Linda Williams — who will be performing with her husband Robin on July 14 — praises The Steel Wheels for their hard work.
“I know they’re putting in a lot of work and I think it’s going to be a great thing for the area,” she said. “They’re real go-getter guys — full of energy. We’re all behind them!”
In addition to her own performance, Williams will also help The Steel Wheels give a special tribute performance for a deceased musician.
Wagler, who says “it’s important to tip your hat to those who inspired you,” does not wish for the musician’s name to be revealed.
While being both festival planners and performers requires more work, don’t expect to hear the band members complain.
“It’s exciting,” Wagler said. “It’s an honor to put something like this together.”
Contact Katie King at (540) 574-6271 or firstname.lastname@example.org