Born and raised in Upstate New York, guitarist and vocalist Eric Winders travelled West after a three day coma left him wondering about his life’s journey. Following the path of friends and family alike, he landed in Santa Cruz, California, and began to find his song writing voice. After years playing with his buddies from his hometown of Schenectady NY in the band, Whiskey Project, he began Whiskey West as a way to write songs for the east coast rock n’ roll outfit while decamped on the west coast. However, in 2016, Eric found drummer Steve Tatowicz on Craigslist of all places and followed by fiddler Liz Smith and bassist Devon Pearse. With the quartet complete, the train left the station and Whiskey West charted it’s own course.
Since that time, Whiskey West has garnered a solid following in the Santa Cruz area. The band has played at the annual Redwood Mountain Faire, and has opened for Grammy nominated blues band, The Record Company, Ameripolitan nominated artist Whitney Rose, and Whiskey Shivers, who was featured in the film Pitch Perfect 3. Hitting the road on occasion, Whiskey West has played the Hoes Down Harvest Festival, the Sierra Basin Barn Stomp, and Fernwood Resort in Big Sur among other Northern California venues.
Eric, Lizzy, Devon & Steve ain’t spring chickens anymore. All in their 5th decade of life, they’ve got a trail of music and a life of living behind them that has seasoned their playing to create the unique Whiskey West sound, a combination of country, blues and bluegrass that gives birth to an edgy, toe tapping, good time acoustic honky-tonk sound. Kinda like if Johnny Cash & June Carter adopted a freight train, gave it some acoustic instruments and a drum kit asked Tom Waits to conduct the combo and said “play something that swings…hard.”
Whiskey West previously released, two EPs- American Ghosts and The Hawthorne Sessions, both recorded with Gadget Box’s Andy Zenzack, in Santa Cruz.
As the Covid pandemic wore on, the band decided to take this opportunity to hit the studio and record their first full length album, Freight Train Mama. Recorded at Sonoma County’s Prairie Sun Studio (known for its infamous Tom Waits Room), the album’s eleven songs are a mix of barn burners, lost love ballads, and whiskey drinkers. Sharing vocal and lead instrument duties, Lizzy and Eric create tight harmonies and dueling solos, while the rhythm section keeps the train moving on solid rails and ties. Songs range from covers of Bukka White’s, “Fixin’ to Die” & the Levon Helm’s, “Hurricane,” to originals, “I Ain’t Never Said No to Whiskey” and “Ghosts & Chains.” The album provides both serious and tongue in check lyrical themes reflecting the band’s desire to create music from the soul without compromising a good time. Enjoy a glass of whiskey and listen to the album on its February 18th release date.