Like some cinematic Western, the Steel Woods’ “Straw in the Wind” spins a story of sin, struggle and strange disappearances in small-town America. The murder ballad doubles as the title track to the band’s debut album, whose version of outlaw Americana makes room for bluegrass, Black Sabbath covers and everything in between.
Years before moving to Nashville, co-founder Jason “Rowdy” Cope grew up in Asheville, North Carolina, not far from the site where the city’s Grand Opera House once stood. A century ago, shows at the Asheville opera house were directed by silent movie star William S. Hart, whose cowboy charisma helped pave the way for actors like John Wayne. Fittingly, the video for “Straw in the Wind” focuses on footage from old westerns, with Hart starring as the clip’s moody, mysterious protagonist.
“He was the Clint Eastwood of the silent film era,” says Cope, who spent nine years playing guitar in Jamey Johnson’s band before crossing paths with singer Wes Bayliss in Tennessee. The two formed the Steel Woods soon after. “I love that we could take his art from that time and make it relevant to our art now. We love making old things new again.”
Straw in the Wind was released in May, with the Steel Woods – one of Rolling Stone Country‘s Artists You Need to Know – supporting the LP on tour through October.