The Alternate Root

Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits scribed tales of the city. Their stories joined those of countless others who were looking through the grime and grit of inner-city windows, tagging their characters with street names and showing a people who took pride in the sweat-stained sheets and the dive hotels they called home. The Westies do not change the scenery too much on West Side Stories. Back streets and corner bars peopled with men and women who have goals beyond the grids of concrete that they grew up in, and still inhabit. The difference is that The Westies are not peering between rips in the curtains or falling through the cracks in the sidewalk. They are on in the inside looking out, and looking around at where they are standing while trying to find an exit route. West Side Stories defines the distinct lines between two sets New Yorkers…the ones who spent their whole lives getting there, and those who were born on the island of Manhattan and can’t wait to get out.

On the night that Michael McDermott and Heather Horton met, West Side Stories was set in motion. Michael knew that ‘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 Westies album West Side Stories is a song cycle inspired by the real life Westies,  a ruthless gang of Irish mob punks that ruled Hell's Kitchen in the 1960’s and 1970's. The gangsters serve as a metaphor for the dark side that lurks inside us all. The unexplained forces that cause internal struggles, destroy relationships and leave us clinging to love as just a memory.

Michael McDermott’s words never put flesh to bar flies or lovable losers. The male and female characters walking his stories see themselves as being clear on where they are going and about the places they have been. Present time fades as the past becomes their story and the future holds their goals. The Westies swing open the door to “Bars” to show the life of a traveling troubadour who made the right decision, finding the light in the darkness. West Side Stories circles Roots music with a rock’n’roll band behind the wheel as they follow rhythms into swamp grooves haunted by misty fiddles (“Death”) and seek solid ground as two sexes look at options on the moving percussion and beats of “Fallen”. The Westies vocals are both male and female. The distinct voices share equally separate opinions and never perform as a duo or chime in for a duet. Lines are drawn and sides are taken. The album’s most tender love story comes when “Say It..” reaches the end of its journey, showing that the couple in the tale as just as surprised as the listener that things ended happily. A rushed chord strum hustles in “Trains” as its story materializes in whispered dreams and “Rosie” puts up a ring that acts as a wall for the guy that sees each sneer as a smile. “Hell’s Kitchen” opens West Side Stories on an New York City street. The characters have changed names and share dreams with the ghosts of past songs though they never manage to get beyond two answers to all their questions….’”Hell’s Kitchen” or heaven’s door’.    

The Westies will release West Side Stories on January 20, 2014 on AMAZON or iTunes

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