UPDATE 2 (8/26): The Steel Woods removed an online image of Johnny Cash the band used to announce their opposition to vaccine mandates after Rosanne Cash rebuked the Southern rock group for what she called “irresponsible and thoughtless misuse.” The Steel Woods reposted their original statement on Instagram with a photo of the band. “We are reposting our message and putting our faces out front, and respecting the legacy of Johnny Cash,” they wrote. “This is OUR statement that we stand behind. Liberty and Freedom for all.”
UPDATE (8/26): Rosanne Cash has asked the Steel Woods to remove an image of Johnny Cash that the Southern rock group used in a post about their opposition to vaccine mandates. “THEIR statement, not my dad’s from beyond the grave. This is an irresponsible and thoughtless misuse of the image and supposed beliefs of someone who cannot offer his own opinion,” Cash, the daughter of Johnny Cash, wrote on Twitter. “Please remove his picture from your press release. I hope you all #getvaxxed.”
The Southern rock band the Steel Woods say they refuse to perform in concert venues that require fans to show proof of Covid vaccination or a negative test for entry. The Nashville group posted a lengthy statement on Instagram on Wednesday along with an image of Johnny Cash in front of an American flag — the album art to Cash’s 1974 album Ragged Old Flag.
“We are an American Band with American values. We aim to create music that is healing and play shows for all who want to attend. We believe in an individual’s right to choose what they want to put into their body and that no one should be forced to do anything for their own good in order to go about their lives. The recent news that AEG and Live Nation venues – and specifically our show in St Louis on 11/5 – will require vaccination or proof of negative test effective beginning of October is not something that we fully support or are willing to comply with,” the Steel Woods wrote.
As a result, the band canceled their scheduled concert in St. Louis, Missouri, for November 5th at the club Off Broadway — which enacted such a Covid policy earlier this month — and said they “will not participate in any show in the future that requires proof of vaccination or negative Covid test result for entry. This includes all headline shows, festivals and all shows we are supporting.”
The Steel Woods point out that they are not “against the vaccine,” but instead oppose a vaccine mandate. (The band’s Instagram post stops short of encouraging their fans to get vaccinated.)
Singer Wes Bayliss and his bandmates weathered the death of co-founder and guitarist Jason “Rowdy” Cope in January to release their third album, All of Your Stones, in May. Bayliss and Cope formed the band upon meeting in 2016. “I didn’t really want to do the solo thing, which is what everybody moves to Nashville to do,” Bayliss told Rolling Stone. “So when we met and [Rowdy] brought the idea [of the Steel Woods], it was like music to my ears. I just wanted to be a part of a band and he was able to get his artistic side out.”
The Steel Woods join artists like Eric Clapton and the metal singer Scott “Wino” Weinrich who have said they will not play concerts that require proof of vaccination, even as the live-music industry begins to embrace the policy.
Earlier this week the FDA gave full approval to the Pfizer vaccine. On Tuesday, the Steel Woods’ home base of Tennessee surpassed one million reported Covid-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Tennessee has the ninth lowest vaccination rate in the United States.