‘We Are The West’ Headlines Palisades 4th

By Laurel Busby
Staff Writer

In a sense, We Are The West had to travel far to find their way home.

The three members of the evocative, melodic band grew up many miles from each other. Singer and guitarist Brett Hool was raised in Pacific Palisades, upright bass player John Kibler hailed from the small town of Warsaw, New York, and the final member, drummer Elizabeth Goodfellow, grew up in Stockton.

They each then lived in varied places, such as the Bay Area, New York, Paris and Amsterdam. Kibler and Hool met first and became a duo, then three years ago, they were introduced to Goodfellow.

From the moment the trio played together, they hit a groove.“We played through every song we had cooking,” Hool said. That included about 25 songs in a “wash of incredible music, a playground of fun songs,” Goodfellow added.

Left to right: John Kibler, Brett Hool and Elizabeth Goodfellow. Photo: Lesly Hall
Left to right: John Kibler, Brett Hool and Elizabeth
Photo: Lesly Hall

The three jammed in a Santa Monica underground parking garage that is We Are The West’s home for the monthly immersive concerts they play on the Saturday before each full moon. On the Fourth of July, the band will bring its experimental folk to the 9th Annual Palisades Rocks the Fourth in a concert that will mix subtle, warm songs with some familiar covers. Guest stars, including saxophonist Sylvain Carton and pedal-steel guitar player Tim Walker, will join the mix to entertain Palisadians on their favorite day of the summer.

“We’re honored to be a part of it and to be chosen to bring everyone together on that night,” Goodfellow said. “It’ll be so exciting to play a set and have the fireworks go off right afterwards.”

Event organizer Keith Turner heard We Are The West at one of the band’s monthly concerts, and he was so impressed that he invited them to headline the show.“I have seen We Are The West perform three separate times,” Turner said. “Each show was incredible. These are top musicians who are on the verge of breaking through to the next level.”

The band’s journey thus far has been gentle, yet meandering. Goodfellow had perhaps the most straightforward path. Growing up playing traditional jazz at her Central Valley schools, she later studied at San Jose State and simultaneously played with the 561st Air National Guard Band of the West Coast. After a few more years in the Bay Area, she moved to Los Angeles in 2013.

“I came here to focus on playing music I loved instead of saying yes to every gig that camealong,”Goodfellow said, and the choice couldn’t have worked out better for her. “It’s heaven—everything I thought it would be. I’m meeting top-caliber musicians that I want to play with. I feel like I’m finally making the kind of music that is true to who I am.”

Palisadian Hool, whose parents are Lance and Linda Hool, began taking guitar lessons as a kid growing up with his siblings Jason and Veronica. As an adult, his focus on music continued to blossom. He earned creative writing degrees at Stanford University and then Columbia University, but his growth as a musician and lyric is to ccurred mostly through his own explorations and shot forward during a year he lived in Paris from 2002-03.

“I had a band where I was rehearsing five days a week,” Hool said. “But it was over before I knew it. I moved back to L.A., and I didn’t know anyone to play with here.”

In 2006, he met his eventual bandmate and fellow lyricist Kibler through a mu- tual friend in the Santa Monica music scene. Kibler had an extensive musical resume. He had majored in music at Ball State University in Indiana, studied at a music conservatory in the Netherlands, and earned a master’s in music performance at the University of Michigan in 2003.

Locally, he taught music at Malibu High School, including five years as the orchestra director, and played in the band Ghost of Electricity. Kibler and Hool began playing some together, but their music really gelled in Holland and New York. In Holland, they rented a shipping container on a sheep farm and spent a month playing together.

“It was our studio,”Kibler said,and in a sense the unusual aspect of that setting became a signature for them. When they moved back to the U.S. and began playing around New York and Brooklyn, they found their more delicate sound was not at first the best fit with the loud club scene.

“It wasn’t working,” Kibler said. “We wanted to create environments that fit the music, so the minute you’re there, you’re open to something new. It started out of necessity,” and turned into a good method to connect with concertgoers. We Are The West played concerts in an abandoned convent, an impound tow lot, a Masonic temple, and now their regular gig in the Santa Monica parking garage.

Since then, their music has matured, and they have played at more traditional venues, such as the Troubadour and The Fonda Theatre, while also continuing to use unique spaces like an old silent movie theater in Buffalo.“We’ve definitely moved on from there, but that’s the philosophy of where it started,” Kibler noted

“We’ve been patient with allowing this to grow,” Hool added. “It feels solid, because we’re doing it in our own time and our own way.

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