The Westies were formed in the summer of 2013 as a consequence of a casual recording session that took place the winter before. Armed with a thematic collection of new songs, songwriter Michael McDermott, gathered some friends together in Nashville and enlisted producer and in demand session player Lex Price (K.D. Lang, Mindy Smith, Peter Bradley Adams) to produce and play on the recordings. McDermott put The Westies together this past summer to bring the songs to the concert stage.
The band introduced themselves and their Americana-flavored sound to Chicago hometown audiences via back to back sold out shows at City Winery, an appearance at American Music Festival at FitzGerald’s and a few other local gigs. The reaction was so strong that McDermott and the band quickly decided to make it more than a side project and organized a tour for 2014.
The Westies released a debut EP, West Side Stories, in October 2013 after the success of the summer gigs had fans demanding the music. The full album is planned for release in February 2014 although a limited edition version is available now to fans via the band’s website. The collectible package features a cover that is hand painted, numbered and personalized. No two are alike.
The full album is comprised of a song cycle inspired by the real life Westies – a ruthless gang of Irish mob punks that ruled Hell’s Kitchen in the ‘60’s – and by McDermott’s own life experiences. The gangsters serve as a metaphor for the dark side that lurks inside of all of us…the unexplained forces that cause internal struggles, destroy relationships and leave us clinging to love as just a memory.
“I write what I know, and much of what I know, isn’t pretty,” drawing from his personal life, McDermott continues, “All I ever wanted to do was write songs and tell stories, like my grandparents and parents did from a long Irish lineage. With that lineage came a proclivity for drink, for mayhem, and a wee bit of crime. It’s a fire that took some time to temper. ”
The Westies are Michael McDermott (Vocals, Guitar, Songs) and Heather Horton (Fiddle, Vocals) and a collective of band mates that include: John Pirruccelo (Pedal, Lap, Mandolin, Guitars), Robert Dicke (Drums), Dan Ingenthron (Bass, Keys), Chris Merrill (Bass), and Danny Mitchell (Piano).