Good Music: Mennonite Bluegrass

Just bumped into The Steel Wheels two days ago at the Oak Grove Bluegrass Festival in Verona, Virginia. That was the first time I’d heard of them. I’m on vacation back east, and my dad and I spent Saturday at a local bluegrass festival.

Let me let these guys speak for themselves. A song about the political game:

Have you ever been to a show when the crowd is feeding off the band and the band off the crowd and spontaneous applause erupts in the middle of songs? There are smiles on the stage and eye contact. And the same in the crowd. That’s what The Steel Wheels’ performance at the Oak Grove Festival was like. They performed twice, afternoon and evening, and at both shows we stood up and clapped wildly at the end till they came back. All four musicians were excellent with their instruments. Each of the 3 high stringed instruments took the lead at different times, sometimes competing in the classic bluegrass fashion. All four of their voices were great. They sang several songs in acapella.

Hands down the best part about watching these guys perform was their warmth and engagement with each other. It was obvious they respected and enjoyed one another. Several of them have Mennonite backgrounds, lending them the name The Steel Wheels, I think referring to the carriage wheels of old-order Mennonites.

After the show I got a couple cds. One had a bike on it, and the liner notes hinted at an annual bike tour/musical tour. I looked them up and sure enough, they ride their bikes to 10 shows a year.

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About mbdeaton

I study neutrino oscillations in neutron star mergers as a postdoc at North Carolina State University. Previously I was a graduate student at Washington State University, using the Spectral Einstein Code (SpEC) to simulate hydrodynamics in strong gravity. I like the following questions: What happens when black holes and neutron stars collide? What is the role of radiation (neutrinos!) in an event like that? What makes Fred and Doerte such fine teachers? What's physics for? What good can a scientist offer his local community, as a scientist?

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