Faces in the Crowd: Carrie Westbay and Brad MacKinnon

November 11, 2019

Carrie Westbay and Brad MacKinnon

About a year ago, I was introduced to Carrie Westbay by Damon DuBois, the Executive Director of the Clare Area Chamber of Commerce. She was performing at Ruckle’s Pier as the lead member of “Limelight,” a group where she is the vocalist and guitarist. Over the next year, I saw her perform at several other venues, including the Surrey House in Harrison, the Music Festival in Shamrock Park, and “Spikehorn Days” at the Clare County Museum. At the Shamrock Park event, Carrie introduced me to her boyfriend and bass guitarist, Brad MacKinnon, who joins her in her group, “Carrie and the Wayward Sons.” At the end of this past September, she also performed at the White House Music Festival. At this event, I asked Carrie and Brad for an interview. Sometime later, we met in the evening at Cops & Doughnuts – a time when few people would be present to interrupt the interview.

Carrie’s great great grandparents left Austria and came to Gladwin, where they established a potato farm. Carrie was born in Southfield in 1977. She attended Hale School from K-12 grades, graduating in 1995. For one season after graduation she worked as a firefighter for the Forest Service. While spending time in Columbus, Ohio, she had roommates who played guitar, but during a stint at Kirtland Community College in Roscommon, she learned to play the guitar herself.

Carrie played in many karaoke contests held all around Michigan, including Houghton Lake, Cadillac, Traverse City, and others. She would consistently win first place in many of these contests

She soon joined a band called “JMA Band,” which played at Shenanigan’s Pub in Houghton Lake. Later, she performed in “Sweet Sensations,” a group with two female singers.

She auditioned for Daniel Cook’s band called “Avalanche,” which later was renamed “Cherry Bomb,” and she played in it for a time.

Carrie formed her own band called “Carrie and the Wayward Sons,” which included Brad MacKinnon and Jay Bristow. She also formed “Carrie and the Wayward One,” with Brad. Today, she also plays in “Party of Two,” with Tom Rose. Brad says he is only a party crasher here.

Brad MacKinnon was born in 1972 in Clare, but he never lived here. His parents lived in Houghton Lake. However, Brad’s family moved to Ypsilanti, where he attended elementary school, learning to play the trumpet in one of those year. Moving back to Houghton Lake, he attended Houghton Lake High School, graduating in 1993. After graduation, he worked as a Machinist in Ann Arbor, a job he held for about five years. He soon became involved in a Detroit band that created a video called “Sinister Funk House.”

Nearly nine years ago, Brad met Carrie at an open mic performance at a bar. Brad had already been playing acoustic guitar for about 10 years. At the time, Carrie needed a bass guitarist. Bass guitar lessons were arranged for Brad with Jeff Hoyt of “Weekend Warriors,” which got Brad on the right track. Eight years ago, Carrie joined Tom Rose in a band called “Limelight,” and they’ve been together ever since. Brad occasionally sits in as a guest.

In addition to singing and playing the guitar, Carrie also plays trumpet, ukulele, drums, French horn, tambourine, egg shaker, and conga drums. Brad plays acoustic guitar, bass guitar, conga drums, and the didgeridoo (a large bamboo or wooden trumpet of the Australian aborigines).

I asked Carrie and Brad if they had any pet peeves. Carrie responded, “Cold coffee and cold toast.” Brad said it was annoying when he reached to get something off a shelf, but something else falls instead.

Carrie loves to garden. She also loves rollerblading. Brad, too, loves to rollerblade, but he can’t stop when he wants to. I failed to ask the result of his non-stop excursions. No downhill rides for him.

Carrie describes herself in 3 words: “Soulful, Spiritual, and Fun.” Brad describes himself as “Colorful, Random, and Grateful.”

In one word, Brad describes Carrie as Amazing. Carrie’s word for Brad is Wayward.

Carrie admits that she cannot whistle, no matter how hard she tries. On the other hand, Brad can not only whistle with puckered lips but also with his mouth completely closed or wide opened. I had to see this, so I asked him to demonstrate. Sure enough, he indeed has a unique talent.

I asked both of them what they were happiest doing when they’re not working. Carrie responded that she loved hiking and enjoying her family and six pets (3 dogs and 3 cats, not to mention a few fish). Brad loves gardening, motorcycling, and visiting with his daughter, Emily, 15, who plays the guitar, ukulele, and French horn. She also plays trumpet in a jazz band in Frankenmuth

Both Carrie and Brad support several charitable causes, including Toys for Tots, music festivals for the Gateway Community Band, Suicide Awareness in Gladwin, and many cancer benefits.

I asked Brad if he had a personal motto that he lived by. He replied, “Get your head out of your ass and put on your game face.” Carrie’s personal motto is “Get it while you can.” (Note the reference to a Janis Joplin song.)

Carrie has already created two CD’s that are for sale:

  1. Chicago Acoustic Underground – 4 tracks extended play created in 2010.
  2. Moonstone – 6 tracks extended play created in 2012 with Jake Allen and Al Bondar at Dharma Records.

In 2020, she will be releasing a vinyl extended play record of 13 song that will be entitled “Nostalgia,” created by Firehyena Studios in Saginaw, Christopher Lewis, owner and engineer. Pressing of the record will be done by Third Man, Jack White Studios. The album will be available at a presale price of $25, which can be donated at Go Fund Me for Nostalgia album, or by Pay Pal, or by going directly to the Firehyena Studios, or through their website.

Check out Carrie’s website, where you can also find a free download entitled “Where Has the Time Gone” and another entitled “Triple Rose” with Dave Fortner. She can be found on either of these sites:

  1. www.Reverbnation.com/carriewestbay
  2. www.numberonemusic.com/carriewestbay

Carrie has plans to perform a Janis Joplin tribute show at the Bavarian In in Frankenmuth in late summer of 2020. She also has material for two other albums in the works. In addition, she will likely release a video in the future.

For the past five years in a row Carrie has performed the first Wednesday of every month at Bemo’s in Bay City. It has come to be known as Westbay Wednesday.

On November 16th, she will be appearing at the Lapeer American Legion from 5-7 p.m. in conjunction with their Harvest Festival entitled “Peace, Love, and Hippies.”

On November 19th, she will be appearing at Boondocks in Coleman from 7-11 p.m.

On November 22, she will be performing at the Acoustic Taproom in Traverse City at 8 p.m.

On Febuary 8, Carrie and the Wayward Sons will be a Rubbles.

She also expects to play once again at next year’s White House Music Festival in Clare (late summer).

If you’re an aficionado of music like I am, you’ve probably enjoyed Carrie’s music at one or more of her gigs. But if you haven’t attended one of her events, I highly recommend that you do so. She and Brad play a wide variety of music genres – something for everyone – and you’ll experience some of the best live music entertainment available.

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One Response to Faces in the Crowd: Carrie Westbay and Brad MacKinnon

  1. Alan Dubbs Reply

    November 12, 2019 at 2:03 am

    These two are both amazing musicians and great people. Glad to call them my friends. friends. Go see them Live.

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