The Southern rock side of the country music space is blessed with some serious stalwart bands that have been around for years mixing Southern harmonies with country twang, and bringing the best of both the country and rock worlds together. Blackberry Smoke, Whiskey Myers, and so many more are helping to keep Southern rock alive, even though just like country, it never seems to receive the radio or media support it deserves.
At the same time, just like with every genre of music, the flux of bands breaking up and legends passing means there’s always room for fresh faces and new perspectives on the music to help keep it vital and relevant. The recent passing of Greg Allman and Butch Trucks, the continued aliments of Gary Rossington and other members of Lynyrd Skynard, and the announcement a few weeks ago that Uncle Lucius is breaking up has made the need for new blood in Southern Rock a pressing issue, and luckily, 2017 has supplied that with some promising new projects, while others who’ve been around for years are taking a bigger step into the spotlight.
Most notably has been the emergence of The Steel Woods. Based in Nashville, and playing behind their Thirty Tigers debut album Straw in the Wind, the band has forged and infectious sound that dedicated fans can’t get enough of, and isn’t being fulfilled by anything similar out there. Parts country and Southern rock, and parts soul and heavy metal, it is inferred by varied influences that are banded together under the term “Southern,” with a dark hue coating their music from both the use of minor chords, and the sometimes Gothic tone of their lyrics.
Formed around singer/guitar player Wes Bayliss, and guitar player Jason “Rowdy” Cope—most noted for collaborating with Jamey Johnson for nearly a decade during the height of Johnson’s power—they form the nucleus of a band that can do Black Sabbath covers in a Southern drawl and drive crowds crazy. The two met at a one-off gig in Nashville, and after a fishing retreat together, decided to give something new a shot. “We decided we were pretty much on the same page and wanted to do our own thing,” says Wes Bayliss. “We had an idea and a vision.”
Now a four piece, they’ve been receiving massive touring opportunities, have played the Grand Ole Opry stage, and soon will be opening for Miranda Lambert on her upcoming tour. As Straw in the Wind continues to receive positive reception by Southern rock fans, the most interesting thing to ponder is where this band could be headed. Though there is no a shortage of Southern rock bands, few have the edge and darkness The Steel Woods bring to the table, or are receiving such major opportunities so early in their arc.