The Steel Woods rock the country


Anyone who’s serious about country music knows there’s a lot more going on than radio-ready pop. There are artists pushing boundaries and blurring genre lines in creative ways, musicians who know and respect the tradition but incorporate sounds that range from hardcore honky-tonk to heavy rock.

Nashville-based The Steel Woods, formed around the songwriting duo of Jason “Rowdy” Cope and Wes Bayliss, belongs in that company. Sporting influences as diverse as Waylon Jennings and Led Zeppelin in its original country-rock, Steel Woods plays at the White Horse Black Mountain on Friday, May 27.

Asheville native Jason Cope, “Rowdy” to his friends and fans, is a guitar/pedal steel player, songwriter and producer who spent eight years perfecting his craft in Los Angeles before relocating to Nashville. Since 2007 he’s been a member of outlaw country artist Jamey Johnson’s band.

With songwriter Wes Bayliss, formerly of Ricochet Creek, he’s the nucleus of The Steel Woods, a group that can deliver roots acoustic numbers of full-bore Southern rock. Their eponymous debut EP is a statement of their versatility, from the swampy acoustic blues of “Axe” to the crunchy rock shuffle of “Hole in the Sky,” delivered with whiskey-soaked vocal grit.

Whiskey-soaked country

Who: The Steel Woods

When: 8 p.m. May 27

Where: White Horse Black Mountain

Cost: $10 advance, $12 door