West 34 was born in late 2007 from a simple concept, to provide classic deep cut rock and blues covers and perform them in a hard charging high energy style that has now become synonymous with a West 34 show. The first incarnation of this band was a force to be reckoned with ripping through Rock classics by The Who (Seeker, Can’t Explain, Heaven and Hell), Zeppelin (Good Times Bad Times, Moby Dick), Beatles (I Want You/She’s So Heavy, Helter Skelter), Alice Cooper (Under My Wheels) and Robin Trower (Too Rollin Stoned, Althea, Day Of The Eagle). The second incarnation took West 34 toward the Blues Rock/Southern Rock/ Blues genres covering material by John Mayall, Allman Bros, Savoy Brown, Albert King, BB King, SRV and Jimi Hendrix. West 34’s Blues Rock version with its two guitar players was often compared to Howard & The White Boys. It’s now mid 2009, a new direction and idea was hatched and the current incarnation of West 34 was born with the plan to become an all original Rock and Pop band.
Dave Johnson - Vocals, Trumpet, Guitar, keys
Aaron Allan - Vocals, Drums
Tim Majewski - Guitar, Lead Vocals
Tony Melnick - Vocals, keys, Bass Guitar
Road To Nowhere - LP (Released 2/17/12)
Clean, tidy awards
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Judging from West 34’s appearance, the only use they could find for a skinny tie would be to hang th...Judging from West 34’s appearance, the only use they could find for a skinny tie would be to hang the wearer. But, given their name and the title of their first all-original EP Road To Nowhere, the road provides a little something for everyone. The new-wavey keyboard line that gives opener “All I Want Is You” its melody doesn’t sound entirely out of place, especially since most of the five songs can be sourced to late-’70s/early-’80s pop rock. There’s hints of Van Halen in “What You’ve Done To Me,” REO in “Darlin’,” Toto in “Politricks,” and a cross of Alice In Chains and Yes on “The Last Messiah,” all in a drama-free package. (Saturday@Central Auto Rebuilders in Brookfield.)
– Steve Forstneger
WEST 34 releases the 'Road To Nowhere'.
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The long-promised release of original material from the Brookfield, IL band West 34, has finally see...The long-promised release of original material from the Brookfield, IL band West 34, has finally seen the light of day. On Friday Feb. 17th, 2012, the band proudly announced the release of their first album, a 5-song EP titled Road To Nowhere. To celebrate and get the word out about the EP to friends, fans & the public at large, the band hosted a CD-Release party and show the following evening [Saturday February 18] at Central Auto Rebuilders of Brookfield.
The event which also featured up & coming R&B/Soul, Pop & Blues artist Chris Tiritilli as a special guest was a success and the band had an opportunity to not only showcase their new songs featured in the EP, but also mingle and have a great time on a night of celebration which ended up having a nice, very respectable turn out.
The band made up by Dave Johnson and Tim Majewski on guitars & vocals, Aaron Allan on drums & vocals and Tony Melnick on bass shined on their night of celebration and were rewarded with loud cheers from their adoring fans throughout their performance. The evening's setlist included tracks off the new EP such as Darlin', All I Want Is You and Politricks, as well as some killer versions of a variety of great songs ranging from that killer surf rock medley they do, to Ozzy's Mr. Crowley and Van Morrison's Into The Mystic. All in all, it was a great night of music and friendship enjoyed by all of those attending.
For additional information on the album, downloads and other band developments, visit them online at west34.com
West 34 Stays Close To "The Road"
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Serious, top-secret government studies have shown that more kids would rather play guitar like Eric ...Serious, top-secret government studies have shown that more kids would rather play guitar like Eric Clapton or Billy Gibbons than land on the moon
The studies are so secret, they can’t be proven.
Fred Gade, on the other hand, likes being a rock farmer.
Gade, who by his own admission first saw the light at a Mountain/Deep Purple concert in 1974, manages West 34, a Brookfield-based rock, pop and blues band that performs across the Chicago area and includes bandmates from La Grange.
The 51-year-old Gade is co-owner of Central Auto Rebuilders, where he also handles the management side of the body repair business. It’s headquarters for West 34, LLC, the management and publishing company for everything West 34.
The band is fronted by Brookfield’s Dave Johnson, vocals and guitar; Tim Majewski, rhythm and lead guitar, of La Grange; Westchester resident Tony Melnick, bass, keyboards; and Aaron Allan of Gardner, Illinois, on drums and vocals.
On June 11, Gade hosted Shop Jam 2011, a private event at the body shop featuring a band performance for friends, family and fans. Gade also invited representatives of the music industry who he said unfortunately did not turn out.
“We more or less billed it as a fan appreciation night,” he said. “It’s our way of giving back a little bit.”
West 34 all started when Johnson came into the body shop in 2007 looking for a job closer to home. He was hired as a fender and body man.
“Then I heard he was a musician, so I went to see him,” Gade said. “After I saw him perform and realized his talent level was tremendous, we talked about starting a band. He would take care of the creative aspect of the band, and I would be the business part of the partnership.”
Auditions began in spring 2007.
“The vision was to have a rock cover band,” Gade said. “We weren’t interested in doing Top-40 rock. We were interested in doing deep-cut covers, the fourth or fifth track on the albums.”
By late summer, the band was in place and on Nov. 30, 2007, West 34 did its first show, a midnight set, at the Penny Road Pub in South Barrington.
With more than 125 shows under their belt, the band members now perform 60 percent of original material. A full show generally lasts three hours. With shorter shows, the band reverts to mostly its own songs.
On Gade’s end, he solicits the clubs for jobs, books dates, does all the communication with band members and arranges recording sessions. He attends all the shows and serves as a go-between for the band and whatever venue members are playing.
“I also collect the money and pay the guys at the end of the night,” he said. “We typically hold a few bucks back that goes into a bank account. At this point, it’s all for fun for me. I don’t get paid. But there is a possibility of getting paid down the road, depending on how far the band goes.”
Gade, who is not a musician, said his involvement stems from a deeply rooted love of music.
“Basically, I’ve been a music lover since I was a little kid,” he said. “I started out listening to music on a transistor radio, then graduated to a stereo. I then saw my first concert, Mountain and Deep Purple, when I was 17. I’ve seen them all.”
As for the name of the band, it’s self-explanatory, Gade said.
“We all live really close to Route 34, Ogden Avenue, and the body shop’s on 34,” he said. “This band was born, and we all live very near ‘The Road.’”
'We plugged in'
Three of the four members of West 34 are local boys.
Johnson started playing piano and trumpet when he was 5, then took on the guitar at 12. His mother, Joyce, is a piano teacher and church organist. Unlike some rock musicians, Johnson, 40, can both read and write music.
The rest of the bandmates contribute to the lyrical side of their original compositions, while Johnson picks most of their cover tunes.
“I’m kind of like the musical director,” he said. “I think of something cool to do; if it doesn’t work, we throw it out. I’m more of a hard rocker by nature, but I’m also a horn player.
“Tim (Majewski) is more of a Hendrix, blues guy’ I’m more of a shredder. I’m definitely the too-many-notes guy in the band,” he continued.
Majewski, 26, started playing guitar two decades ago and honed his vocal skills in various choral groups at Lyons Township High School. By day, Majewski works in a landscape business that specializes in trade shows.
He’s the youngest member of West 34, and that works in his favor — his roots are in blues and soul, he said.
“Coming out of high school, I started playing guitar more and joined a band: The Southsiders, a Chicago-style blues band,” Majewski explained.
Melnick also played in that band. It was through a mutual friend Majewski was introduced to Johnson.
“I brought my guitar over to Dave’s one day with ‘Uncle Freddy’ and we just played,” Majewski said. “We plugged in and went to work. We hit it off right away. Everybody in the band has a great chemistry and they are all versatile players.”
Melnick, 45, started playing the clarinet at age 8, guitar at age 9 and moved on to bass guitar when he was 12 — an unusual choice for someone that age. Most kids want to become guitar slingers.
The Westchester resident said his tastes are eclectic.
“I have everything from Motorhead to Gregorian chants on my iPod,” he said. “If I have it on shuffle, it’s a crap shoot.”
Of the drummers who auditioned, Aaron Allen won the spot. He makes a 60-mile commute to practice from Gardner, located southwest of Joliet.
Melnick sees his role in the band as one who tries to keep things moving.
“Dave always has something new, something better than the last time. I try to reign him in and keep things on the path,” he said. “We do step out, don’t get me wrong, but I try to keep it within the realm of where we’re going. It’s a ying and yang thing.”
Copyright 2011 La Grange Suburban Life. Some rights reserved
West 34 Showcases Thier Original Material
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In the years I've been writing Rock Reports and my thoughts on area bands for this publication, I ha...In the years I've been writing Rock Reports and my thoughts on area bands for this publication, I have been approached by many of them to come and check them out.
I make an effort to check most, if not all of them, either by attending a show or checking out their websites and/or materials submitted. In trying to maintain a certain degree of quality and showcase the best that we as a scene have to offer, not everyone makes "the cut". Cover bands playing the same repertoire of Journey, Crue, Buckcherry, etc., don't spark much interest from me anymore. No matter how "killer" they think they are, unless they truly are doing something out of the ordinary, there are bands just like them in every town/city across the USA so [for me] there isn't any uniqueness or anything 'Chicago' about them.
With original bands, there are a number of remarkable acts out there. Some are however, simply not good enough at the time, and just need more polishing of their act so I pass on them. Others play well and have good songs but don't get the opportunity to play in venues that will allow them to not only fully showcase their abilities, but to present them in a flattering and desirable manner. It doesn't matter how good anyone may be, but seeing them playing by a kitchen door, with a chicken wing/beer special posted behind them does not exactly scream -'We're Rock Stars. Come check us out!". That reason keeps them from making the cut as there isn't much to look at in those instances. Finally, there's the trainwrecks which are just not worth my time even thinking about them.
Having said that, the band West 34 falls into one of those groups. They first contacted me a little over a year ago [if I'm not mistaken]. They have been primarily a cover band performing "deep cut classic rock and blues covers" with "...a little bit of Surf Rock thrown in just because we dig it", as stated in their website profile. In addition to that, they also had been working on original material which they wanted to incorporate into their regular show. I listened to their music online and thought they were pretty decent, but because of logistical & scheduling issues, had been unable to see them in the flesh. That is until now.
I had the opportunity to meet and see the band perform at an original music showcase on January 27th @ John Barleycorn in Schaumburg. The band, made up by Dave Johnson & Tim Majewski on guitars/lead vocals, Aaron Allan on drums/vocals and Tony Melnick on bass guitar, took to the stage shortly after 9:30 P.M. and without much hesitation, went straight into a repertoire which not only included and showcased their original material, but also featured a few covers which I actually enjoyed in this case as it gave me a much better perspective into what they have done and how it has influenced their writing.
West 34's style is most definitely rock but with a very strong blues influence to it both musically and lyrically. With songtitles such as 'All I Want Is You', 'Politricks', 'Cost of Peace' & 'Broken Bones' the band kept it pretty real while keeping things musically entertaining with strong hooks and songs that can stand on their own. The set also included [as covers] Jeff Beck's Led Boots, Albert King's version of 'Play The Blues For You', a surf medley which I understand is pretty popular with the band's following and was very nicely done, in addition to a jazzy improv tune which really showed how tight and musically tasteful is the band.
Their musical performance was very good. As I mentioned, the band is tight and incredibly tasteful. Dave Johnson is not only a very accomplished guitarist, but also played keys, sang on some songs and played the trumpet on a number of tunes which really added a new dynamic to the songs and set the band apart from others in the genre.
Tim Majewski's vocals were clean, soulful and didn't take a backseat to his playing which shined when it needed to and locked into a groove the remainder of the time. Aaron Allan's drumming was energetic, precise and the guy actually sang really well. Tony Melnick's low end was very clear, fluid and along with Allan's beat, was the machine that kept things tight and 'in-the-pocket' throughout the performance.
As good as the band was musically, and as interesting and fun Johnson is to watch as a performer, the overall show was lacking a certain level of enthusiasm and intensity that I have come to expect out of a rock show. Now don't get me wrong, I think West 34 is a great band but I would have liked to have seen Majewski step it up and take a more assertive approach as frontman. Perhaps it was just this show. I don't know. I still liked them, enjoyed their music and have no reservations in recommending them as one of Chicago's quality rock acts.
Chit-Chat with musician Dave Johnson: West 34 plugs into entertaining audiences
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West 34 puts the liveliness in live performances. The 2-year-old Brookfield-based band -- with membe...West 34 puts the liveliness in live performances. The 2-year-old Brookfield-based band -- with members “Big Wave” Dave Johnson (rhythm and lead guitar, trumpet, keyboards); Tim Majewski (rhythm and lead guitar, lead vocals); Eugene McGhee (bass guitar) and Aaron Allan (drums) -- pumps the adrenaline into their high-energy rock and blues show, giving their audiences a rockin’ good time and a rush of cover tunes. And it helps that Johnson’s guitar doesn’t limit him to just the stage.
You’ve produced some original music, but most of the music in your shows are cover tunes. Why is that?
With typical bar performances, that’s what people are looking for. That’s what they want to hear. They like the familiar songs that they can sing along to. But with our music, we leave room for improvisation.
What do you play to get the crowd hyped?
We do this “Surf Medley” that’s a mix of the songs “Pipeline” and “Miserlou” (both by Dick Dale). It’s a high energy medley with a trumpet and everywhere we go people go wild over it.
What’s the craziest thing that has ever happened during a performance?
The first craziest thing we can’t print in the newspaper. (laugh) Plan B is that I have a wireless set up on my guitar and I get a good range, so sometimes I like to go outside of the building and play out there. While the band’s playing inside, I can be out in the street playing.
You’re almost limitless with your guitar?
Yeah. One night I was in the other room on my guitar and playing ping pong, while we were all performing. (laugh) Even our drummer has played the drums while on his back. It’s exciting for the audience. They love it. You’re not going to see that with other bands. We’re kooky.
As a young band, what are some goals you’re working toward?
We want to release a full-length CD of all original material, play at more festivals and ultimately play at the House of Blues in Chicago... But starting Dec. 14, we’ll be hosting the open mic jazz and blues night at Walter Payton’s Roundhouse in Aurora every Monday night.
So what can the audience expect from your performance in Brookfield?
Maybe I’ll go back in the kitchen with my guitar and make a sandwich while I’m there. (laugh)
Internet blog review - West 34 and Dave Johnson
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Here’s another truly great band for ya Posted by Gmoney on Dec 7, 2009 in Buddy Guy, Chicago, Dick ...Here’s another truly great band for ya
Posted by Gmoney on Dec 7, 2009 in Buddy Guy, Chicago, Dick Ourada Band, Joe Perry, Walter Payton's Roundhouse, West 34, blues, local band scene, music, suburbia, trends |
Dude, I’m tellin’ ya………….
After everyone had such a great time seeing the Dick Ourada band last month, I wanted to turn you on to another extremely talented group of musicians I know.
Whereas the Dick Ourada band is a versatile group of guys that have been playing together since the early ’90s and have a song catalog of over 200 songs, this other band is a lot more “in your face” rock-and-roll. These guys tear the house down with a wall of sound. Dick O. and his merry men write a lot of originals recalling high school principles and crazy keg party memories. While they take their music quite seriously and have a lot of pride in their shows, the chief thing is to laugh, join in, and have fun. Dick dons various costumes throughout his shows and once they even did a medley of popular beer commercial ditties.
“Come to think of it……..I’ll have…….a Heineken”
On the flip side, you have West 34. Like Dick O, the leader of the band is a good friend of mine going back over twenty years to high school. Since the day I met him, “Diamond” Dave Johnson has been the best musician that I personally know and hang out with. And I’m here to tell you, it’s like hanging out with Joe Satriani or Joe Perry or somebody like that. In his band, they’ve assigned Dave the moniker “Big Wave” Dave Johnson. And it is appropriate because like I said……this band blows you away with a wave of ”in-your face” music jams.
Dave is classically trained on trumpet and piano and used to play in weddings when he was just a kid. Both elements (actually trumpet, piano & keyboards) have been incorporated into the band. He wears many hats. But his main role is as the ass-kicking lead guitar player. This guy can friggin’ crank it out.
Back in high school when there’d be 30 or 40 of us hanging out at the forest preserve drinking beer and playing softball, Dave would entertain the crowd with his playing. Other guys would have their acoustics out and try to impress the girls as well. But Dave was the king. He’d take requests and play sixty or ninety seconds of whatever tune you threw out there. Then to play as many suggestions as he could, he’d stop the melody, kind of smirk as if no one could stump him, and say, “Ok…….what else? “
He had a swagger and a cockiness about him which he definately earned. Used to crack me up.
The cockiness is gone—–he’s a family man now and pretty humble—-but the swagger on-stage is still there. He’s a true showman.
So the band is called West 34. It’s one of those bands where every guy is a master at his instrument. And every guy is allowed to show off his talent each show they do. Like the drummer does an awesome version of the Led Zeppelin composition “Moby Dick”. He thumps that shit out. They cover the heavier, more jammin’ rock tunes. They also have a strong dedication to the blues roots of rock music. Dave has played with many collaborators including Chicago bluesman Melvin Taylor and his band.
I’ve seen West 34 play many times; a good six or seven in 2009 alone. The last time I saw them was on Halloween night after I left a house party. I was just in time to catch their third and final set of the evening, which was basically what they tongue-in-cheek called their “instrumental” set. A couple of the tunes they selected had vocals, but otherwise they just rocked out.
Dave Johnson led the way on a sweet version of Eric Johnson’s “Cliffs of Dover“. Then they went right into the Rush anthemn “YYZ“. The set included the drummer’s showcase of “Moby Dick” and they did a couple of extended bluesy jams. Dave likes to play with the cordless amp pack strapped on and was out in front of the bar on the sidewalk playing to surprised people on the street. A little schtick that I’ve seen Buddy Guy do at his Legends club a number of times.
There’s another guy in the band who impresses the hell out of me every time I go to see these dudes play. He’s the youngest member at about 24, and he does most of the lead vocals and plays rhythmn guitar. That’s not exactly being fair to him though, as he often steps up and does a searing lead guitar as well. His name is Tim Majewski and he and Dave combine to make a talented duo up there. He too has been playing guitar since he was about 8, and played with the Southsiders blues band all around Chicago before hooking up with West 34.
I can’t tell you enough to come out and see this band play. Whereas Dick Ourada and his crew try to thrill their loyal Dickheads and provide a lighthearted night of solid entertainment, West 34 tries to blow the roof off whatever venue they’re playing. They actually just landed a spot as the regular Thursday night house band at Walter Payton’s Roundhouse in Aurora starting in January.
But you can see them at the exact same venue as the Dick Ourada Band just played. If you came out for that show, don’t miss West 34. They are playing at:
Rolling Lanes (bowling alley bar)
Friday night January 15, 2010 at 9:30pm
Joliet Road Countryside, Illinois
They play some sweet Allman Brothers tunes, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Ted Nugent, Clapton, Albert King, and so much more. Typically they play the tunes that are too intimidating and technically challenging for most bands to try.
So check out their website and listen to a demo or two. These guys freakin’ rock !! I will definately be at the January 15 show and I’m going to try and get as many people up there as I can. West 34 is the best band I know of on the local scene.
Music Shows: West 34 Blue, Dave Herrerro
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Taking its name from Illinois Route 34, West 34 Blue is a spin-off of classic rock cover band, West ...Taking its name from Illinois Route 34, West 34 Blue is a spin-off of classic rock cover band, West 34. Led by soulful strummer Dave "Big Wave" Johnson, West 34 sticks to a good five decades of everything from the Beatles to Van Halen, while the ‘Blue’ incarnation sticks with a more select crew, like Howlin’ Wolf and Eddie Taylor. Either way it’s cheap, filthy, chase-it-with-a-shot of-whiskey, nostalgic fun. Consider it playtime after the real fire when Texas-bred guitarist Dave Herrerro and his big-brass play drag-your-feet Motown numbers that will either transport you to the still of some dock on some bay, or tickle your feet with post-war sock hop.
Village's flavor on display at first-ever Taste
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The second half of the event began with the Lions beer tent opening at 3 p.m. and the dancing troupe...The second half of the event began with the Lions beer tent opening at 3 p.m. and the dancing troupe Exit 236 performing, which led up to a live band performance by West 34, which started at 6 p.m.
West 34 is a classic rock band that plays a lot of music from the 1980s.
“After the band started and after things started cooling down, you could see a lot of people coming back again,” Cole said. “The band was awesome and the crowd was really yelling and screaming for them. And while they were playing, you could see that there was always someone in line for food, and that was also good.”
As day gave way to evening and darkness began to crawl in, Cole estimates that approximately 200 people were there to see the band. She was also impressed that most all of the vendors stayed nearly to the close of the event at 10 p.m.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.