The West Side Winders are an original, American roots-rock power trio dedicated to the sound, attitude, lifestyle and advancement of rock, blues, rockabilly and surf-rock with a hard rocking aggression that we like to call “Shredabilly.”
Band History – The Whole Story (yawn)
The West Side Winders had their humble beginnings in the early 2000’s when guitarist Dan Peters (fresh off of his 3 year stint with the popular 10 piece swing band The Big Swing) was asked to put together a band to perform at a charity benefit in Chicago. Long time friend and bassist Randy Riley quickly came aboard. The 2 of them slapped together a rock quartet, a 2 hour set list of covers and went in ready to rock. It became quite apparent during that first gig that rockabilly, blues and surf-rock was a natural and strong fit for the musicians, and thus the band’s sound and style took shape.
Six months later, drummer Joe Kunkel joined and the trio went to work recording original songs in Randy’s home studio. Originally named The Sidewinders, their first album “Come and Get It” was released independently in 2004. The band earned a strong local following playing clubs and festivals in and around Chicago and Milwaukee. Standout performances at Chicago Blues Fest two years in a row led to a bigger regional following with offers to perform at shows all over the Midwest and eventually earned the notice of roots/indie label 95 North.
The band was signed in 2005 amidst a severe personnel change. Drummer Joe Kunkel moved to Portland, OR and Randy Riley left the band to perform with classic rock band Survivor and to focus on his sound company. Derek Brand of the Nicholas Tremulis band took over the bass chair and the group was flown to 95 North’s headquarters in New Hampshire to record their 2nd album “Snaken Not Stirred” with ace percussionist Greg Marsh on drums. Randy Riley lent a hand providing backing vocals as well as mixing and mastering the new work. But before the album could be finished, label head Bill Hurley discovered that there was a long list of other past and present bands named The Sidewinders. One major label act in the 90’s was sued over this and forced to change their name. And so after much discussion, Dan settled on new title The West Side Winders. It was a way to make the needed change while still keeping the original name and logo somewhat intact (as well as a tip of the hat to the Chicago blues scene.)
By the time “Snaken Not Stirred” was released late in 2006, the inimitable Kyle Olson had taken over the drum chair but frustratingly for the band, 95 North was about to file for bankruptcy and close their doors for good. The trio had a great new album and no label. So they went to work promoting it themselves. With the help of indie promoter Fred Boenig the new album received critical acclaim and many new fans with air play on small market and internet radio throughout the US and Europe. This also brought new touring opportunities. The band even cracked the top 40 on AMA (Americana) stations in 2007.
Looking for other ways to promote the guitar-centric nature of WSW, Dan entered and achieved runner-up status in three separate national and international guitar competitions – “North American Rock Guitar Competition” in Buffalo, NY 2007, Guitar Player’s “Guitar Superstar” in San Francisco, CA 2008 and “King of the Blues” in Los Angeles, CA 2009. This led to coverage in both Guitar Player and Guitar World Magazines.
During these years the band performed regularly throughout the Midwest and had annual summer tours of the east coast and west coast as well as a short tour in Europe. WSW also opened shows for many big name acts including Sammy Hagar, Foghat, Joe Bonamassa, Charlie Daniels, Blue Oyster Cult, Marshall Tucker Band, Johnny Winter, Stray Cat Lee Rocker and Bruce Hornsby amongst others. The biggest of these came in 2011 when WSW won a local battle of the bands and secured the opening spot for Bon Jovi in front of 24,000 people at Chicago’s United Center. Live performances on both WGN’s Morning News and Fox’s Good Morning, Chicago aired right before the big concert.
Early in 2012, Dan was offered the opportunity to fill in for his old friend, virtuoso guitarist Joel Hoekstra performing lead guitar onstage and as an actual character in the smash hit Broadway musical Rock Of Ages. So after 10 years of struggling with his band, Dan decided he needed a break and moved to NYC for new musical adventures. From 2012 to 2014, Dan performed regularly in Rock of Ages, played guitar and acted in Blue Man Group’s “EMO Project,” played weekly club dates in Manhattan and toured with several Broadway/musical theater related acts including Rocktopia, Remastered, Broadway Rox and Under The Streetlamp.
In 2014, Dan came back to Chicago to star and play lead guitar in the debut run of Dee Snider’s Rock n Roll Christmas Tale which opened at the Broadway Playhouse in November of that year. In addition to playing guitar, Dan’s character Johnny B. Great was a lead role in the musical/comedy from the Twisted Sister frontman.