The Steel Wheels

Rootsy Americana QuintetBuy TicketsEnhance your Kate experience with Membership!

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with special guest Heather Maloney

The Steel Wheels have long been at home in the creative space between tradition and innovation, informed by the familiar sounds of the Virginia mountains where the band was formed, but always moving forward with insightful lyrics and an evolving sound. In 2005, Jay Lapp (vocals, guitars, mandolin) and Eric Brubaker (vocals, fiddle) joined lead singer Trent Wagler (guitar, banjo) in forming the band as a vehicle for Wagler’s songwriting. They released several albums under Wagler’s moniker, before officially adopting the The Steel Wheels name with the 2010 release of Red Wing. Quickly staking their claim as independent upstarts in the burgeoning Americana scene, The Steel Wheels followed up this release with three more self-produced albums in the next five years, before joining forces with producer Sam Kassirer for Wild As We Came Here (2017) and Over The Trees (2019). Kevin Garcia (drums, percussion, keys) joined in 2017, bringing a new level of sonic depth and polish to the outfit. Newest member Jeremy Darrow rounds out the rhythm section and grounds the band as they continue to explore deeply rooted yet fresh folk rock sounds. Having gained the experience of thousands of shows, festivals and many miles on the road, the stubbornly independent band has formed deep bonds with each other and the audience that sustains them.

The Steel Wheels have responded to this time of isolation and loss by seeking to connect with their audience in new ways. In 2020, unable to perform their rootsy brand of Americana for crowds in live settings, the musicians turned their creative powers to crafting songs for individuals. Produced in isolation in the band’s home studios, the Everyone a Song albums are part of an ongoing project to collect the personal experiences of fans and forge them into that most enduring, yet ephemeral, format we call “song.” An accompanying podcast, We Made You a Song, explores the stories behind these songs, and the songwriting process itself. While each song was commissioned to honor a specific relationship or event—a birth, a wedding, a memory of home—the emotions evoked are universal.

Nowhere is this shared humanity more evident than at the band’s own Red Wing Roots Music Festival, a weekend-long celebration of music, community, and the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. Hosted by The Steel Wheels every summer, the festival provides a space for the band to shine, from their high energy Saturday night main stage set to their afternoon showcase with young Red Wing Academy students. At Sunday’s gospel hour you are as likely to hear Steel Wheels originals or Warren Zevon covers as you are traditional gospel fare. The weekend is rounded out by the beloved tribute set in which the band collaborates with a cadre of fellow artists to honor an influential figure in American music, with past tributes ranging from Dolly Parton to John Prine.

Whether at a joyous summer festival, in their many shows across the country and beyond, or in the studio, The Steel Wheels continue their mission set out over a decade ago; shaking up traditions to see what sticks, telling stories, and joining communities through song.

Heather Maloney

Some albums are monoliths, compressed under the weight of a singular circumstance bearing down on an artist. Heather Maloney’s “Soil in the Sky” is a collective memory. Stitched together from personal and universal ecstasy, loss both intimate and ancient, Maloney’s fourth full-length release is a collage of tremulous folk, existential ballads, and assertive rock. Taken as a whole, it’s a constellation that looks a lot like life. The artist holds the center.

The Massachusetts-based “writer song-singer” found music in the midst of three years at a meditation center, honing a sound moored in days of silent reflection and reverence for storytellers like Joni, Rilke and Ken Burns. On “Soil in the Sky,” she takes us to the midwest’s existential crisis, a barstool scooching against fate, a make-my-day reckoning with society’s old guard. They’re roads less traveled and she keeps good company. Dawes’ Taylor Goldsmith lends a distinctive duet to “We Were Together,” a rare love song from Maloney that nods to a Walt Whitman poem; Maloney and Rachel Price form a harmonic Voltron on “Enigma,” a triumphant uppercut to oppressive power structures. The album is sonically rounded out by an all-star cast of players including longtime collaborator Ryan Hommel, Griffin Goldsmith, Jared Olevsky, Reed Sutherland, Dave Eggar and Jay Ungar.

In sound and sentiment, these 12 songs cover an immense amount of territory. But they’re all powered by the same source. There’s a spiritual thread throughout the record. That inspiration doesn’t necessarily come from above — Maloney has a patchwork metaphysical support system — but from all around: the glow of humanity gathered in the people and places that lap out in our wake. Heather has toured nationally as a headliner as well as in support of acts like Lake Street Dive, Shakey Graves, Gary Clark Jr., Colin Hay, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and many more. The New York Times called her music “utterly gorgeous, visceral” and SPIN Magazine described her as “stunning, breathy, and starkly memorable”.

Parking

The Kate parking map - accessible parking is available on Main Street and in the parking lot behind the Kate

Parking at the Kate is free and easy! There is not one dedicated parking lot; however, there is ample parking surrounding the venue.

Parking on the street is limited and shared by all Main Street merchants. We ask that you consider one of the suggested off-street parking locations in blue where Kate patrons have permission to park.

Shows start promptly at the time posted to our website and printed on your tickets. Planning to arrive 15 minutes prior to the show is always a great idea—plus, it give you a few minutes to explore the Katharine Hepburn Museum!

Directions

The Kate is located at 300 Main Street in downtown Old Saybrook, a short distance from the I-95 corridor as well as the Route 9/I-95 interchange. Get Driving Directions

Concessions/Bar

The Kate’s Concessions/Bar area is open for most shows, offering bottled water, soda, juice, and a selection of movie theater candy. For those 21 and over, a selection of beer, wine, prosecco, and simple mixed cocktails are available.

Cash or credit cards are accepted and beverages purchased at the Kate may be taken into the theater.

Concessions/bar may not be available for all performances and selections may vary. For more information, contact the Box Office at (860) 510-0453.

Nearby Dining Options

Consider one of the many great nearby restaurants for a bite to eat before or after the show. To explore options, check out our Dining page.

The Kate theater is located on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the Cultural Arts Center. The orchestra level is accessible by elevator from the 1st floor lobby; the balcony is accessible only via stairs. Accessible seating locations may vary slightly by event and are clearly identified on the interactive seating chart for each performance. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the Box Office at (860) 510-0453. For additional information, please reference our Box Office & Theater Policies.

Seating chart

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Whether you are drawn to the Kate for a love of the performing arts or of Katharine Hepburn, we hope that each Kate experience is a great one. As a patron, you help to keep the arts alive in our community.

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The Kate is generously sponsored by:

  • Pasta Vita
  • Saybrook Point Resort & Marina
  • Damon Wealth Management Group, Ameriprise Private Wealth Advisory Practice
  • Coburn Financial Group, a financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC
  • Sennheiser