Gig Seeker Pro


Oakland, CA | Established. Jan 01, 2016 | SELF

Oakland, CA | SELF
Established on Jan, 2016
Band Americana Indie




"Westerly - Fire in the Evergreens"

Westerly is a band based in the San Francisco Bay Area that plays local clubs and bars and has been featured on local radio stations as well. Their third album Fire in the Evergreens features 12 tracks of a mix of folk and rock. They are influenced by folk writers such as Joan Baez and Leonard Cohen and use storytelling, three part harmonies and an interesting take on love, spirituality and the political climate of the local scene to create a unique sound.

The album started with “Coal Heart Bound” which began with a cool drum intro and blended into an intense sounding folk song. Westerly has three main vocalists that switch off on lead vocals and background, each having a unique style and tone. The lead vocals in this track had almost a punk vibe and reminded me of the Murder City Devils in an obscure way.

The three-part harmonies definitely stand out and give a distinctive quality to the song. The following track “Don’t Keep Me Waiting” was completely different than the first. It had a slow, dark and sexy vibe with the female vocalist taking the lead. Her voice sounds a little like Florence Welch from Florence and The Machine and has a vast range with a deep tone. There were jazzy notes on this track which made it playful and fun.

“All the Winners” had a light, almost summery appeal with more of the complex harmonies and a fiddle solo that I really enjoyed. “San Francisco Liberals” followed that same vibe and was folk all the way. “Show Me the Light” took a rock turn with dramatic lyrics and an almost theatrical feel. The next few songs, “Hallelujah,” “Contented,” “It Will Be Found” and “No Reason to Fail” all had a similar slow and folky feel. I started to find the harmonies a little too intense at times, it became distracting and pulled me out of the mellow vibe that the verses induced. But I did enjoy them in moderation.

“Stay” featured the female lead vocal again and I have to say, every time she takes the lead the whole mood shifts. She brings a sexy, piano lounge feel to the track, minus the piano. I really dig it. “Drinking Alone” was a fun track but again I found the harmonies a little distracting. The final track “I Need You” was the stand out track for me. It had a universal folk Indie rock feel, slightly reminiscent of Mumford and Sons with extremely poetic and catchy lyrics.

​Overall I really enjoyed Fire in the Evergreens. Westerly is a band that possesses a lot of diverse talent. The three-part harmonies are a unique part of their sound, I just felt that they were utilized maybe a tad too much on some tracks. Their sound has a very modern relevant feel to it that takes the best parts of folk and mixes it with the spirit of genres like rock and punk that ultimately make it a rare but needed perspective in the music scene. - Divide and Conquer

"Benicia native scores gig at Armando’s with new band Westerly"

The spirit of traditional folk music is alive in the hearts of four Bay Area musicians who call themselves Westerly.

Westerly are a Benicia-based band who blend folk music with Americana and even a little bit of gospel with lyrics that are heartfelt but also socially conscious and rooted in tradition. The current lineup consists of Scott Wilson on lead guitar, Brandon Seinturier on percussion, Doug Stowers on bass and Sterling Spence on guitar and lead vocals.

Spence grew up in Benicia where he absorbed the town’s musical environment. Under the guidance of Annabelle Marie, Spence was a member of the Benicia-based VOENA Children’s Choir during his youth where he got to travel and perform in places as far away as Italy, Mexico, China and Japan.

“Doing music with her, she taught me so much about performance,” he said. “Her vision for what music could be and how important it was I think was the biggest thing that caught me.”

Spence took up guitar in 8th grade, and while attending school in Riverside, he joined a band called The Coyote Bandits where he met Wilson and Stowers. In the summer of 2013, the band toured the West Coast to raise money for health services in Micronesia with all the proceeds going to the nonprofit Canvasback Missions.

“We toured for three months,” Spence said. “We had seven people in this tiny RV, so we were sleeping shoulder to shoulder, and we raised about $60,000 for the organization. One hundred percent of the proceeds went to them.”

Spence moved back to the Bay Area to get his graduate degree at the University of California, Berkeley. He recruited several of his former Coyote Bandits bandmates to form a new group called Westerly, and they recorded an album titled “Spirits and the Voice of Reason” in November.

“I got together my core musicians, and we’ve been trying to perform as much as possible,” he said.

Spence says the band is largely influenced by classic American songwriters and folk singers like Pete Seeger, Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen and Jackson Browne.

“In terms of the kinds of stories they can tell with their lyrics, that’s always been what’s caught me,” he said.

Spence says the members of Westerly all create music as a means of self-expression.

“At times, we do a lot of protest music,” he said. “We do a lot of expressions of our values and what it means to be from the Bay Area. That’s what I like about playing music. There’s something very special about being able to have a voice that people can resonate with.”

The band have been extensively playing throughout the Bay Area, including Amnesia Beer & Music Hall in San Francisco and the Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland. Last night, they were featured on Berkeley public radio station KPFA’s program “Hear and Now,” where they did a live set.

The tour continues Wednesday when they will be playing at Armando’s in Martinez, where they will be joined on violin by Gordon Allen and backing vocals by Benicia High School Class of 2006 alumna Leah Woodard, who Spence describes as having “a war cry of a voice.” The group is looking forward to playing in a small venue with a lot of personality.

“Armando’s is one of the best venues in the area,” Spence said. “It’s completely dedicated to music. It’s a small, kind of quirky spot, but it’s a great place for an intimate show. We’ll get a chance to really talk with the audience.”

The show will be held at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 11, at Armando’s, located at 707 Marina Vista Drive in Martinez. There will be a $10 cover charge at the door and an opening set by New York singer/songwriter Millie Mason. For more information, visit WesterlyTheBand.com. The group’s music can be streamed on Spotify and downloaded at WesterlyTheBand.Bandcamp.com. - Benicia Herald


Fire in the Evergreens - 2017
Spirits and the Voice of Reason - 2016
Westerly - 2015

Honey, I Tried - 2018
San Francisco Liberals - 2017
Coal Heart Bound - 2017

Upcoming Releases

Inland Empire Trilogy - 2019



Westerly has been making their blend of Americana Indie Rock in the Bay Area for over three years. With three albums under their belt, they’ve played all over the state in clubs, bars, coffee shops, radio stations, old folks homes, and circus tents. Their music celebrates the songwriter traditions of the iconic San Francisco scene but adds new energy and flavors that the music magazine, Divide and Conquer, said gives Westerly, “A very modern relevant feel that takes the best parts of folk and mixes it with the spirit of genres like rock and punk that ultimately makes it a rare but needed perspective in the music scene.” The band’s original songs and dynamic performances can get a crowd on their feet dancing, melt faces with screaming guitar solos, or bring them to tears with their intimate songwriting. 

Their line up includes Sterling Spence on lead vocals and guitar, Scott Wilson on lead guitar, Jessica Lips on vocals, Jeff Peck on bass, and Brandon Seinturier on drums. They have been featured on KPFA, KALW, KALX, and Mutiny Radio. They are regulars in Bay Area venues with upcoming show dates featured on their website: westerlytheband.com and facebook.com/westerlytheband.

Band Members