Photos by Kevin Yatarola
The SteelDrivers lit up the stage on a frigid Friday evening at the Schimmel Center, going fast and furious with “Hell on Wheels” and cruising slow with “River Runs Red.” Mike Fleming described their sound as “uneasy listening,” but that didn’t stop the crowd from swaying to their swamp bluegrass groove and singing along to staples like “Ghosts of Mississippi.” It proves you don’t need a drummer when your audience claps the beat to every tune.
Gary Nichols was untamed detuning and retuning his instrument. His guttural vocals, soulful falsetto, and gritty guitar playing bore stark contrast to Richard Bailey’s anchored stance, notes flying, though his hand was unwavering. Richard’s instrumental tune, “California Chainsaw,” featured Brent Truitt’s gold Gibson mandolin chops, while Fleming laid down the foundation on the bass. They also featured chilling three-part a cappella vignettes improvised into their live set. Tammy’s fiddle took on a chameleon identity; she joined the rhythm section with her chop bow and wailed like a harmonica with her legato melodies.
The IBMA award-winning songwriters also featured a song from their upcoming album called “Honeydew,” about “having a good woman.”
If you find yourself in the mood for some whiskey and good music, check out the SteelDrivers on their spring tour of their award-winning album, the Muscle Shoals Recordings.