Last October, just before Whiskey West was about to go on stage at Moe’s Alley, acoustic guitarist/singer Eric Winders was telling upright bassist Devon Pearse about a song about redneck hippies. Pearse responded: “Isn’t that what we are?”
They both laughed, but it’s kind of true. The four-piece band, which also includes Liz Smith on fiddle/vocals, and Steve Tatowicz on drums, plays a mix of traditional bluegrass and outlaw country, but there’s a healthy dash of Santa Cruz hippiedom in their laid-back vibe and breezy feel-good sound.
“We love that thing country music provides—we associate it with the redneck world. Real country music has a beautiful simplicity to it,” Winders says. “Also, I grew up with the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers. I think that influences us all to a certain degree.”
Whiskey West formed a couple of years ago, but had a different lineup. The current lineup came together last April, and clicked immediately. Since then, they’ve been gigging and having a good time, playing feel-good country dance music for folks in Santa Cruz. They’ll be releasing their debut EP at their upcoming Catalyst show. It’s got four originals and one traditional song.
“A lot of the music we play is about suffering, vengeance, drinking, and heartbreak,” says Winders. “We try to counter that by putting on a good fun show that will put smiles on people’s faces.”
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $8/adv, $10/door. 429-4135.