SteelDrivers celebrate 10 years playing its brand of bluegrass
What: The SteelDrivers
When: 8 p.m. on Oct. 25-27
Where: Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St.
Cost: Thursday tickets range from $29-$45. Friday and Saturday tickets cost $35-$55
Singer, songwriter and fiddler Tammy Rogers saw her bluegrass band The SteelDrivers emerge from a casual jam session to become a Grammy-winning powerhouse that is currently celebrating its 10-year anniversary.
“It’s a true statement when we say we all came together organically and morphed into a real band,” Rogers said. “We didn’t think that we would be together this far down the line. We never thought that far in advance. It’s kind of crazy when I think about it. It shows you how fast time flies.”
The SteelDrivers will bring their gritty style of bluegrass to Park City for a three-night run starting Oct. 25 at the Egyptian Theatre.
The sets will change from night to night, but, Rogers said, the band will play many crowd favorites.
“With four albums of original material it all depends on the vibe of the room,” she said. “We do know we have to play the classics, but we also fit some of the other songs around them. And that makes it fun for us, too. It keeps it fresh.”
The band — composed of Rogers, banjoist Richard Bailey, mandolinist Brett Truitt, guitarist Kelvin Damrell and bassist Mike Fleming — is also working on new material, the fiddle player said.
“We’re hoping to get an album together soon,” she said. “The running joke is we’re playing faster than we have in the past, but we still take time to make records.”
In the meantime, The SteelDrivers re-released a remastered cut of its critically acclaimed sophomore album from 2010, “Reckless,” on vinylon Oct. 12..
“Reckless,” which peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s Bluegrass chart, was nominated for Grammys in both the Best Bluegrass Album and Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal categories.
Rogers confessed that she had never listened to the album from start to finish until a few months ago.
“I mean, when you’re making an album, you’re so in it and focused on it,” she said. “We listen to the songs all the time as we rehearse, record and mix them. Then we hear the songs again when we have to approve the mixes and sequence the album, but after that, the songs are done.”
Rogers, who has played violin since elementary school, said she had heard some of the songs on the radio, and would play a track or two from time to time for musical reference, so it was special when she listened to the whole album to approve the vinyl mixes.
“We had to listen to the whole album to make sure all the levels were correct because they remaster and tweak the songs,” she said. “It was special because the listening experience brought back the time period of where we were as a band at that time. It was like listening to a snapshot.”
Throughout the past decade, The SteelDrivers have been through some personnel changes. An early lineup included country star Chris Stapleton as well as country singer-songwriters Mike Henderson and Gary Nichols.
The core group, however, has remained intact, Rogers said.
“The SteelDrivers have gotten stronger as players, musicians, friends and people over the years, and there is a great sense of security,” she said. “I know Richard Bailey’s banjo playing better than I’ve ever known other banjoists playing all over the world. And I know Brent’s mandolin playing like I know Richard’s banjo.”
That familiarity gives the musicians a sense of freedom when they play live.
“The wonderful thing about being in a band, particularly one that has stayed together long term, is you get so inside the songs,” Rogers said. “Every year you add a level of meaning, interpretation and experience. I think that’s why you can still go to a concert and hear Rod Stewart sing ‘Maggie May’ and it can still sound amazing.”
Playing with renewed energy is important to Rogers, especially when she knows fans have been influenced by the band’s catalog.
“I’m so honored when people tell me that they used to stay up all night and play our tunes during jam sessions, because I did that in my teens and 20s when I would play all the Boon Creek songs or the J.D. Crowe or Quicksilver tunes. I get that. It means so much to me that people would love our music and care enough to learn it and play it at a jam session.”
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