On The Steel Woods Deciding to Cease Touring

Wes Bayliss of The Steel Woods

Southern rock fans, and fans of The Steel Woods specifically woke up to the sad news on Thursday (3-28) that the band, and namely the lead singer, guitar player, and primary songwriter, Wes Bayliss, had decided to cease touring after 2024. This isn’t due to lack of demand, frustration at not finding critical-acclaim, or any other cause out of their control. According to Bayliss, this is due to him growing closer of God, and wanting to focus his life more on his faith moving forward.

“The Bible talks about the ones that are neither cold or hot being lukewarm and that’s been me for a really long time,” Bayliss says in a statement. “I find that things become easier when we stop trying to justify what we do in search of personal gain and start seeking God’s will for our lives and truly trusting in him to make a way and lead us through it.”

But of course looming large over the decision is the death of The Steel Woods co-founded Jason “Rowdy” Cope. Right before the band was to release their album All of Your Stones in 2021, Jason Cope died from complications from diabetes at the age of 42. Previously playing with Jamey Johnson and others, Rowdy’s passing hit the independent country community hard.

With the blessings of the family and after some soul searching, The Steel Woods decided to continue on with guitarist Tyler Powers sliding into the lead guitar spot. The band also released the well-regarded album On Your Time in October of 2023, with Bayliss stepping up into the primary songwriting position. With the age discrepancy between the younger Bayliss, Rowdy was just as much a mentor as a collaborator. You could tell it was difficult for Bayliss to move forward without Cope.

“When Rowdy and I first met and started playing together back in 2015, we had many many conversations about what the future would hold for us as a band, and as individuals,” Bayliss says. “The one thing we always agreed was most important was that there is a sense of purpose behind everything we do. Now, the prideful side of me would say that after all these miles down the road, we knocked it out of the park in that regard.”

It’s hard to disagree with the Wes Bayliss assessment. Along with bassist Johnny Stanton and drummer Isaac Senty in the most recent lineup, The Steel Woods had risen near the top of the Southern rock genre. Though some fans did notice that there was something indefinable missing from the band recently, especially in live performances. Though guitarist Tyler Powers fills in admirably for Jason “Rowdy” Cope, Bayliss sometimes seemed less assured without Rowdy with him on stage.

As we regularly see in these types of scenarios, sometimes “sayonara” is not goodbye forever. The pull of the road often compels reunion shows and/or tours. Wes Bayliss is still young, and The Steel Woods are ceasing touring while on top, not whimpering away into the sunset. This feels very similar to the retirement of Granger Smith, who also found a deeper faith after the death of his son.

In the meantime, you can find their final tour dates below (and the full statement), and you might consider it the final opportunity to get your face rocked off by one of the heaviest bands in Southern rock that combines metal influences with country inflections and songwriting.

Long live The Steel Woods.

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