Local folk band Chloe and the Steel Strings aren’t the most seasoned musicians, but their newness only makes them more exciting to watch as they boldly enter Toledo’s music scene. Twenty-year-old twin sisters Chloe and Anna Wagenhauser, along with 22-year-old Connor Ward, make up the dreamy folk trio. Though the band is young in more ways than one— they only formed in March of 2017— that fact belies their comfortable stage presence and effortless energy.
Chloe and Anna have been playing music for most of their lives, performing briefly as a band called Up for Interpretation during their time in high school. A Cleveland native, Ward provides backup vocals and bass guitar, bringing along his experience from playing with bands from his hometown. The three met in 2016, and after encouraging each other’s musical pursuits, decided to combine their passions into a single project.
Combining old and new
The band tends to play mostly covers at their live performances, finding it the easiest way to engage a crowd. Their repertoire includes ’90s alt-rock, classic rock, oldies, and some modern pop.
“We’re trying to reach a broader audience, and it’s hard to do that when you only play original songs,” says Anna, “so we usually play five covers and one original, and we’ve found that it’s a good ratio. By the time we play the original, the audience is paying attention and really listening to it.” As their audience expands and word of their music spreads, they plan on adding more original tunes to their set list.
The magic of their music relies heavily on melodic vocals— think Swedish sister duo First Aid Kit for comparison. Influences from Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Sheryl Crow, Norah Jones, and Alanis Morissette are evident in the band’s light but emotional folk vibe. Their EP, an eight-track self-titled album recorded at Toledo’s Firefly Studio, ranges from sugary pop-inspired tracks to tunes influenced by ’90s grunge, all through the unique female-centric filter.
“We want to keep it simple,” says Anna. “Chloe’s lyrics are what we want to shine; we don’t want the instruments to overpower the vocals.” And the album does shine, drawing you in with heartfelt lyrics, simple and lovely instrumentation, and fresh but familiar melodies.
The band is gathering steam as the months go by. The Wagenhausers and Ward are working on filming their first music video, for the opening track of their album, Face the Day. They have played at many local venues, including Ye Olde Durty Bird, Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, SIP Coffee, Howard’s Club H in
Bowling Green, and are booking shows in
Cleveland and Detroit.
“There’s a lot of hard rock and punk music in Toledo,” says Anna, “but there is a scene for softer rock and folk; it’s just not as prominent.” The Wagenhausers and Ward love being based in the 419 and have received great feedback from the community, with about 25 regulars attending most of their shows, a number, no doubt, that will rise as they continue playing the music they love.
Upcoming shows include Cleveland’s Beachcliff Tavern at 8:30pm on January 20, and Toledo’s SIP Coffee at noon on Sunday, January 28. No cover. Check out Chloe and the Steel Strings and buy their album online at facebook.com/Chloeandthesteelstrings.