Jessica Blankenship is the owner and founder of Kentucky Country Music website. The Berea College graduate has been a music journalist and historian for over 20 years. She enjoys providing concert photography, reviews, historical articles, red carpet event coverage, and exclusive interviews of your favorite musicians. Jessica is proud to be a Kentucky Colonel and alumni of the FFA and 4-H Clubs. In 2018, she was named one of Laurel County’s Ten Under 40 Award Recipients. In 2019, she was a member of the Inaugural class of BRIGHT Kentucky as part of Leadership Kentucky. She has been featured on the Kentucky Music Preview podcast, Hollercast podcast, Overtones radio show, WFKY Nashville News Roundup, KET, and more. Beyond music, she enjoys traveling, helping her community, collecting gnomes, and Volkswagens.
The Steel Woods bring back the rural Appalachian sound to their music
In the first few months of 2016, it appears as though the talent out of Nashville was drying up. Then two young men came together to record their first single, “Let the Rain Come Down,” that poured out a much needed sound to a music fan’s ears. The Steel Woods are taking country music to the raw rural roots of Americana with their sound. With Jason Cope of North Carolina and Wes Bayliss of Alabama, they formed a unique vocal and instrumentation style that could be classified as being what music fans have wanted to hear.
Sitting down at the Pinewood Social Club, the duo was excited to speak about their music, live show, influences, and living the life. The Steel Woods have been making a name for themselves individually with other projects.
According to Wes, “we were both playing every now and then with a mutual friend. I played guitar for him for a while and he didn’t have a bass player. I played bass and drums for him and anytime he needed a guitar player, he would call Jason. We took two weeks and went fishing to see if our personalities would work together.”
Needless to say, their friendship and musicianship meshes quite well to form The Steel Woods.
Wes Bayliss was born and raised in rural Alabama. He first began performing at the young age of 8 with his family’s gospel band. They would perform throughout Alabama, including Mobile and Gulf Shoals. Wes would perform at the age of 16, playing guitar and singing. Eventually, he would move to Nashville to get his feet deeper in the water of the music business.
Jason Cope is a native of North Carolina. Many fans may recognize him from playing alongside Shooter Jennings, Jamey Johnson, and Wayne Mills. He has also produced several projects. His hardworking work ethic both on and off stage has gotten the attention of many in Nashville.
One of the interesting things with The Steel Woods, their first self-titled album was completely their own in regards to playing instruments, writing lyrics, and singing. Overall, the album forms the sense of rural America deep in the heart of southern Appalachia.
After the Steel Woods released their album, word would start getting out on the new duo. Their first radio airplay was with WFKY out of Frankfort, Kentucky, with the song “Let the Rain Come Down.” The reactions from listeners have been positive and rewarding.
“So far, it has been nothing but positive feedback, which is awesome,” according to Jason. “It’s encouraging; it’s really putting your heart out there. It feels good. It was nice having radio reach out to us.”
The Steel Woods has been unique in promoting their music their own way. Recently prior to a concert in Nashville of Anderson East, they placed copies of their cd on car windshields. They also hand out copies to construction workers working downtown Nashville.
Jason noted that, “we want to make sure to hand it to the people that we know will like the music. We rented a booth at the gun show and handed out stickers and cds. It turned into people coming out to our show.”
The album itself is strong on songwriting and musicianship. The first single, “Let the Rain Come Down,” contains strong powerful background vocals to emphasize the emptiness left behind after the woman left him, as compared to a field of empty crops that are desperate need of rain. “Uncle Lloyd” reflects on times spent working and living life with a family member.
The song “Axe,” along with its accompanying music video, makes you feel like you are deep in the woods of Appalachian Mountains. The raw rustic feeling makes the song perfect for anyone living the rural life.
With a blend of heartache and moving on, “Better in the Fall” it comes to the conclusion that whether it is harvesting season, or the end of a breakup, one can be better in the fall. On the opposite end, “If We Never Go,” talks about moving away and starting a new life together with the one that you love.
One interesting song is “The Well,” which takes on the perspective of two people meeting together reflecting on each other’s life. They each would love to live the dream that the other is living – one being a married man with a family going to work at a nine to five job, the other living in the music life doing their own things on their own time. In the end, they choose the different life they are currently living, but they always find a piece of common ground.
“Hole in the Sky” seems to be something straight out of the rock scene of 1970s – think of something that Creedence Clearwater Revival would release. You find yourself immersed in a trance with the guitar playing as Wes is singing.
Be sure to check The Steel Woods online at www.thesteelwoods.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thesteelwoods. Their music is available for download at I-tunes and Amazon.com.