West Side Heat was formed in 1982. The first official gig was Nov. 11 & 12 at Molly Maguire's (now defunct club) at Clybourn and Racine. Jon McDonald and I were working with a lot of the bluesmen around Chicago (See Musicians). We were living in the back of my used record store. We were really into a lot of the sounds of the classic westside artists and their records. We were inspired by Magic Sam, Otis Rush, Morris Pejoe, Eddie C. Campbell, and Howlin' Wolf. The first lineup of West Side Heat was Jon McDonald on guitar, John Baker on Bass, Marvin Jackson on drums and yours truly on guitar. Marvin had just left the Albert Collins band, where he had been on guitar. Both John and Marvin really helped me out with my guitar chops. John was playing bass with Tyrone Centaury in his band, when Tyrone wasn't playing drums behind Jimmy Dawkins. Tyrone was another inspiration to me (See Tyrone Story)
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Well, we had a band; but no PA system, and no van. Marvin was friends with Lovie Lee, the last piano player to work with Muddy Waters. Louie agreed to join the band. Now we had a van, a PA, and a great boogie-woogie piano player. Lovie was great at talking to the crowd, and was a real pro! Wesr Side Heat played most of the clubs in Chicago either as a 4-piece, or backing up bluesmen. We played Milwaukee quite frequently with the help of Steve Cohen, who was in the band Leroy Airmaster, a local Milwaukee band. In its history WSH backed up Lovie Lee, Carey Bell, Lurrie Bell, Abb Locke, Hubert Sumlin, Sugar Blue, Homesick James, Screaming Jay Hawkins, and Bea Brady.
In 1984 I decided to put out a record. The 5-song EP was entitled "Crazy Mixed Up World" . The lineup was Ron Sohn on Harmonica, John McDonald on guitar,Ariyo on Keyboards, John Baker on bass, Tony Mangiullo on drums, and I did guitar and vocals.
|For 15 years Mark Hoekstra has been a integral member of West Side Heat. Hoekstra first joined West Side Heat in 1984. Previously Mark had been playing in Rock, Blues and Country bands. Hoekstra also spent many years on the road playing with the legendary Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. Mark's Expansive knowledge of the Harmonica brought a new dimension to West Side Heat. Mark was also added as another lead Vocalist sharing the duties with Arvey. The combined talents of Arvey and Hoekstra make for a very original sound. Hoekstra has now added an arsenal of guitars to the Line-up. It can't get any Bluesier with Mark and Steve both playing slide guitar at the same time.|
CHICAGO MUSIC MAGAZINE
volume 6, Issue 1
by Brian Silder
West Side Heat Slated For the 1990 Chicago International Blues Fest - Chicago, IL Saturday! June 9! High Noon! At the Chicago International Blues Festival Crossroads stage. The veteran touring band West Side Heat, finally get what they deserve. Blues people are such purist nonsequitars it leaves me aghast constantly. It took them all this time to figure out these guys were real. It was a white voting block keeping them out. The same white guys that grant Chicago's blue musician population the favor of their meager short-sighted existence.
Power and guts. These are the only terms I can use to describe what you are going to hear when you come out to see these guys on this fateful day. The second time only that an all white band has been booked to the fest after Stevie Ray Vaughan, their music is the diesel roar of 18 wheelers whizzing along with a cargo van loaded with bystanders on the open midnight roads of this nation. Progress. Steve Arvey, like Jimmy page and Eric Clapton, listen to a lot of old country blues artists, with another Influence definitely being that of the Grateful Dead. But the music is more than that. There are so many influences indicated in this current format, it is hard to pin down exactly what is from where. But, owing to the fact of an undeniable white-boy twist, their music can hardly be described as middle the road blues, thank heaven. It becomes rock, but then again the blues influences is so strong that it cannot be classified as rock either. It boils down to being another permutation and definition of both idioms. It is now! It's hot! It's West Side Heat!
There is a grind and a thrash in the sound of this band. Overlaid with the expert harmonica playing of Mark Hoekstra, West Side Heat takes a side road away from the blues owing to the innovative grooves this rhythm section has to offer coupled with revamped blues guitar stylings of Steve Arvey. In recent memory I haven't heard too many acts that sound this gutsy, Midnight Oil perhaps. But it's been a long time since anything electric has been so full of real emotion, experience and soul as the music from the "Heat". They are the real article. A rock band raised in the belly of the beast, the nation's meandering B scale club circuit. Their perennial following has grown every year.
Most importantly, it is the word of mouth promo this band has at this point in time, that can produce a phenomenon. This band's rep in the field smacks of money. It would be foolish to ignore their performance/career path. They can sell 100,000 copies in a couple of months and at the same time be a vanguard of new sounds in the rock market for some time to come. Alternative and mainstream rock will change again after this definition takes hold.
Listen to the cuts on their new tape due out sometime soon. But his cassette release when it's in the stores. The stuff is no joke. This music is an accessible entity for the average music lovers ears and it is not hard to relate to. It is sexy! On the other hand it is so different from all the other things you can find it, it won't get lost in the crowded line-ups of rock & roll now featured on most 50KW stations. The sound is so distinctly their own, everyone will know who it is the instant they hear it. None will mistake the growl and the groove from West Side Heat! You hear it here first!