* Normally every artist in this column is based in NYC, or at least the NYC area, but Chicago-based Americana band The Westies most definitely deserve a place here, as well. Why, you may ask? Well, let's start with their name.
The Westies was the name of an Irish American gang that operated in the Hell's Kitchen area of NYC from 1968-1989. Although they reportedly never had more than 12 to 20 members, they were responsible for roughly 100 murders. The band adopted the name as a metaphor for the dark side that lurks inside us all.
West Side Stories is The Westies’ debut album, and the entire project, which was released today, is inspired by the real life Westies. The band’s founder, and frontman, Michael McDermott, who once lived in NYC, explains, "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. I write what I know, and what I know is, much of the time, ugly.”
The band may call Chicago home, but The Westies, and West Side Stories, are pure NYC. Check out the song "Hell's Kitchen," and enjoy their NY stories.