Stone Wheels blends a nostalgic intuition for Woodstock-esque sounds with Texas’s own vibrant songwriting tradition. Andrew C. Gerfers heads this certifiably Austin-native project, contributing catchy and thoughtful lyrics to accomplished story-telling tracks such as “Overgrown Trails” or “Chelsea”. Their 2018 self-titled debut album elevates Gerfers’ song-world out further with crowning musical arrangements. At its core, Stone Wheels remains affixed to its country music heritage while challenging that genre’s characteristic and conventional timbres.
Its all-star backing band is composed of Austin live-music veterans including Gary Newcomb on the ever-present pedal steel, Landis Armstrong playing a tasteful guitar, Einar Pedersen rocking the bass, and George Duron driving the drums. While Gerfer’s compositions look towards the lyric legacies of Texas giants such as Willie Nelson or Townes Van Zandt, the band espouses a different sonic ethos characterized by the cosmic likes of the Byrds or Beach Boys. Hints of Grateful Dead experimentation or Brian Wilson harmonies tell a story that is uniquely Austin.
The driving motivations behind Stone Wheels’ promising output are high energy and good times. An affinity for nature, deeply embedded in the band’s songs, finds outward expression in the psychedelic earth-tones of “Overgrown Trails” or the mixed-meter madness of “I’ll Give Again”. The band is not content to brand itself as a mere country outfit, although its name and song titles may deceive; give them a deep enough listen and you might find yourself on an unexpected trip.
Among its varied influences are the plateaus and steppes of Patagonia mixed in with a thirst for adventure and an appreciation for driving with the window down. It’s a deeply storied ethos in American culture that can be traced all the way back to the Beatnik generation. Stone Wheels stands for the promise that, in the shadow of rapid urbanization, the dream of the counterculture generation will prosper. If Kerouac’s On the Road had another film adaptation, we’d bet that Stone Wheels would author its soundtrack. Until then, this band of unhinged Austinites will gladly score any epic modern-day road trip.