Beyond ‘Nostalgia’ • The Long & Winding Musical Road of CARRIE WESTBAY

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Local Music, Artist Feature, Review Music Awards,   From Issue 926   By: Robert E Martin

24th February, 2022     0

I first became of Carrie Westbay back in 2018 when she and her band The Wayward Sons seemingly came out of nowhere to secure the coveted Best Original Band honors at our annual Review Music Awards celebration. 

The next year I had the pleasure of performing with her at Band Roulette and was able to witness first-hand her moxie with a microphone as she nailed the vocal in Led Zeppelin’s Rock ‘n Roll with the passionate grace of a panther going in for the kill.

And over the last two years of the pandemic, I have come to appreciate how Carrie Westbay is one of the hardest working musicians working the circuit and making her dreams come true: especially given the fact that music is a full time job for her and the proverbial bread & butter that puts food on her plate and a roof over her head when she goes to sleep at night.

Known for her gritty and passionate original material coupled with faithful renditions of roadhouse favorites that she makes her own through claiming the layers of life’s experiences that have colored the texture of her powerful voice and focused her musical sensibilities, Carrie is a true ‘Journeywoman’ who works the four corners of Michigan.

In any given week she is either performing solo at Westbay Wednesday’s at Bemo’s in Bay City, or with her duo Party of Two with Thomas Rose on guitar & vocals, or with Carrie & the Wayward One (with her boyfriend Brad Mackinnon on bass & vocals), or with her band Limelight, which features Thomas Rose (lead guitar), Pat Manke (bass), and John Kissel on drums.

As if that wasn’t enough to make your head spin, Carrie was also doing a Carole King Tribute show with Stephanie Terpening and also has worked up a Janis Joplin Tribute group with Rose on guitar, Thomas Loomis on bass, and Michael Wagner on drums.

When her livelihood virtually shut down with the Pandemic, Carrie shifted her attentions to performing online with regular podcasts and live performances, while also putting the finishing touches on her newest album release Nostalgia, opening an entirely new revenue stream to her and cultivating audiences spanning the globe.

Obviously, all this hard work has paid off.  This year Carrie (along with her various bands & projects) has been nominated for fifteen different awards in three different divisions of Miscellaneous, Blues, and Rock for the 36th Annual REVIEW Music Awards.

After catching Limelight perform at The Stables in Bay City recently, it’s easy to see why she and her various acts are in such popular demand.  Music comes naturally to her and she tells me that she is blessed with “perfect pitch” when it comes to her voice. She digs into the songs and makes them her own, while also demonstrating an acumen at drawing her fellow musicians onstage into her same organic space that best amplifies a shared passion about the music being collectively created.

Prior to her gig, I was fortunate to sit down and dig a little deeper with Carrie into the musical passion that fuels both her dreams and livelihood.

REVIEW:  You are one of the few artists I know who actually makes their livelihood from the music they create, which is definitely impressive and must take a lot of hard work. What’s the secret?

Westbay: Actually, I did have a job as a gas station attendant and got promoted to being the night auditor, but it got to a point where it was interfering with the music and back then I was getting paid more for music.  With the minimum wage going up it would have been a stable gig, but I can pick up $150.00 a night for hosting an Open Mic Night so why get stuck at a gas station?  It’s hard to focus on any job when you’re worried about it, so I decided to make priorities and do what I love and do the best by making music my top priority.

REVIEW: So when all the live venues closed during the pandemic, what did you do to survive?

Westbay: I started doing online streams on Facebook and YouTube, which was a whole learning curve on its own. I’d played a show with this rock band from Illinois at a festival up in Charlevoix and got a spot opening for them that I saw on YouTube.  They told me to come to their ‘Twitch’ channel and I saw what they were doing with their live-stream, but it’s hard to do with just a condenser mic and a camera.

I started doing more streams and getting people to watch me on YouTube and ‘Sessions Live’ and put together a  Hippie Metal Band to do my originals and a lot of Ozzy, which was hit and miss.  I’d be playing an hour and then find out I had no sound, so I’ have to stop and redo the whole stream. It was a learning experience.  But I built up quite a repertoire of music and staged a lot of contests and got a lot of support from fellow streamers. Plus, I’ll do different theme shows with my streams. Today my showcase was nothing but songs with ‘Nonsense Lyrics’ like Do Wah Diddy Diddy  and Rama Lama Ding Dong. My Mom watches me all the time and she lives in Mississippi, so it was pretty cool!  But the sessions were paying really well through the pandemic - I was making $35 bucks an hour throughout the week plus tips, so invested all that money to pay bills while finishing my new album.

REVIEW: Your new album ‘Nostalgia’ has some beautiful and strong material on it. It shows your vocal range and connects hard with things from your past that you deliver with such passion. How would you distinguish it from your earlier recordings?

Westbay: I like the heavier guitar element. I need it, otherwise it’s just Folk music - and while it is Folk music, I want it to Rock and be a little heavier. I want to move beyond genre. On my next album Larry McCray is coming in to guest on a couple tracks and I am so excited!  I think I’m going to call it Nice & Naughty.  He told me he was doing this to help me out and not break my budget and I’m so grateful for his generosity.  I mean he is doing this for me at the same time he’s really taking off himself right now and that means a lot.

REVIEW: So with your live performances where are you focusing the most nowadays?

Westbay: My band Limelight is my main focus.  With the streaming sessions I’m doing a lot of Karaoke, and I still do my solo and duo collaborations, but I don’t want to take way from Limelight. Because we are booked almost every weekend we need to reinvent ourselves, so are working at putting together ten new popular songs from each decade in different genres.  This can be difficult because tom lives up in Grayling and our members are kind of scattered.

REVIEW:  Even though ‘Nostalgia’ has just been released can you tell me more about the new one you’re working on and how your songwriting is evolving?

Westbay: Well, with Nostalgia I focused on songs that were never released that were written when I was 20-21-22 years-old, so with the next one I have a lot more Blues & Rock oriented material itching to get out. That’s why Chris Lewis at Fire Hyena Studios saw what I was doing and coming up with and reached out to Larry McCray to come in and work with me on a song or two. I was surprised to discover we were both raised as Jehovah Witnesses and share a lot of Christian values.  I don’t go to JW church anymore, but I was brought up with those values and believe in supporting people and the community that I live in.

Limelight will be one of the guest performers at this year’s 36th Annual REVIEW Music Awards happening on Sunday, May 15th at The Vault in Saginaw.  You can also check out Carrie’s new album ‘Nostalgia’ and purchase a copy by visiting Apple Music, Pandora, YouTube Music, Soundcloud and other streaming sites.

Here's a link to 'All Our Days' - one of Carrie's originals from her new album 'Nostalgia'.







Please login to comment



Current Issue


Don't have an account?