Southern rockers soldier on in wake of tragedy



The Steel Wools will perform Aug. 14 at JD Legends

The past year has been extraordinarily difficult for the members of southern rock act, the Steel Woods, performing at JD Legends in Franklin on Saturday, Aug. 14. The Nashville-based band, which formed in 2016, recorded its third album during quarantine. Then, calamity struck in January when founding member Jason “Rowdy” Cope (guitar) passed away due to complications with diabetes.

With the blessing of Cope’s family, co-founder Wes Bayliss (vocals, guitar) and his bandmates soldiered on and completed the final mix on “All of Your Stones,” which was released in May.

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Bayliss recently called from his home outside of Nashville to answer some questions about the new album and returning to the road in the wake of such a tragic loss.

Q: What have you been up to today?

A: I’m home right now. I was using a chainsaw to cut dead trees out of my backyard.

Q: I’ve been enjoying the album but I’m sorry about the circumstances. I’m sorry for your loss. How are you doing?

A: Yeah, it’s not something I wish on my worst enemy, man. It’s been a rough first half of a year now, but we’re doing the best we can and working through it. The record is doing good and the shows are finally doing good after not playing any for so long. Everything is pretty well looking up.

Q: I know the band did a few socially distant outside shows during the pandemic but when did you return to regular performing?

A: It was around May. One of the first shows back was down in Texas at Billy Bob’s. We’ve been trying to play there for quite a while so that was a good way to come back. Of course, that was quite a weird weekend, being the first one back. It was the first one without Rowdy, too, so … it was pretty good. The fans loved it and everybody had a good time. It’s all been sort of uphill from there, if uphill is looked at as a good way. We already have some big things coming up in 2022.



Q: You have UK dates early next year. What’s your relationship like with the fans there?

A: Yeah, that’s a big one. Having been over there once before on our own and hitting a couple of festivals and club dates and whatnot, we got a real taste of what the fans are like. We were blown away by how they reacted to us being there. Going into it, we didn’t know there would be people standing outside the door after all the standing room was full. We’re excited to go back and we’re definitely excited to be doing it with Blackberry Smoke. We started touring heavy in January 2017 and our first tour was with them. We had something like 18 shows, man, and their fanbase really took to us. We see a lot of those same faces out at our shows now, so I’m really looking forward to what that will do across the pond.

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Q: What has it been like coming out of the lockdowns and playing in front of people again?

A: Man, it’s been great. It took a little while to get in a groove, I guess. The first weekend, probably two or three shows, I said each night, ‘It ain’t like riding a bike, ya’ll.’ It really isn’t. After so long off and with everything that was going on, it took a little while to get us back into the swing of things but the shows are going great now. We just did a weekend out in Maryville, Tennessee at a Harley Davidson dealership that’s also a music venue called The Shed. Man, it was packed. Everybody showed up and we really had a big time. The shows are going great and we’re glad of that.

Q: Have you noticed a difference in the crowds?

A: Yeah, for sure. You definitely notice a little more appreciation of the experience. It’s easy to take live music for granted. When you’re deprived of it and then you get another taste, you’re really grateful. The fans have been great and that’s really what it’s all about. I said last week, it’s really up to them whether we have a good show or not and they’ve been making good shows for us.

Q: What has it been like playing these new songs live? I imagine it’s pretty heavy at times.

A: Yeah, it is. You know, I guess, it’s kind of hard to sing through the ones that get personal at times without bringing up stuff but that’s what it’s all about. That’s what we’re doing. I don’t want to pretend like he’s not here and all of it. It is heavy at times but it’s not too heavy to carry on.

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or e-mail at


Who: The Steel Woods

Where: JD Legends, 65 Millard Drive, Franklin

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 14

Cost: $18-$45

More info: 937-746-4950 or

Artist info:

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