Bill Toms and Hard Rain | The West End Kid

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The West End Kid

by Bill Toms and Hard Rain

Bill Toms is an American, roots rock and roller. With his band Hard Rain (legendary Pittsburgh musicians), Bill's writing style captures the feel and life experiences of people in the rust belt like no other.
Genre: Rock: Americana
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Another Round for the West End Kid
4:18 $0.99
2. This is Nowhere
5:00 $0.99
3. I Was in Love with You
4:27 $0.99
4. I Don't Live there Anymore
7:46 $0.99
5. Satan's On My Shouder (Jesus ain't Nowhere in sight)
2:50 $0.99
6. I'll Take My Pride
4:37 $0.99
7. She Takes Me Home
4:52 $0.99
8. In the Paradise
4:11 $0.99
9. I'm Walking With an Angel Tonight
5:35 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Bill Toms

In April of 1986, Pittsburgh based guitarist Joe Grushecky, formerly of the Iron City Houserockers, asked guitarist and songwriter Bill Toms to join a new band he was forming. The core players, Joe, bassist Art Nardini, and drummer Joffo Simmons had been together for a few years in a band called Joey G. and the Brick Alley Band, following the breakup of the original Iron City Houserockers. Having previously played with Joffo in the early 80's rock band The Shades, Bill made the decision to join some of Pittsburgh's most powerful performers.

Joe Grushecky, Bill Toms, Art Nardini, and Joffo Simmons began what was to become, Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers. Veteran percussionist Bernie Herr joined a year later as did former Shades keyboardist Joe Pelesky. In 1999, former Iron City Houserocker harmonica player Marc Reisman signed on and returned to The Houserockers.

During nearly 20 years of playing together The Houserockers have recorded six studio CD's and one live CD. Included in the catalog was 1995's "American Babylon", which was produced by Bruce Springsteen. Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers have the distinction as being "The Best Bar Band" in America. Having said that, it is no wonder why they are frequently booked in various clubs all over Europe.

Having always been a songwriter, in 1996 Bill began work on what was to be an acoustic CD. After bringing in a few friends to fill the record out, "Bill Toms and Hard Rain" was born. Together they released "Paradise Avenue" in 1997, as well as, two additional studio CD's; 1999's "My Own Eyes" and 2001's "This Old World".

In 2002 Bill released a limited edition solo E.P., titled "One Lonesome Moment". The CD is scheduled for re-issue, with bonus tracks, in 2006.

In October 2005 Bill Toms and Hard Rain will release their new studio CD titled "The West End Kid". Following the CD release, Hard Rain will perform, open select shows for The Houserockers and Bill will continue to play solo acoustic shows to promote the CD.

The members of Hard Rain are all seasoned vet's. Most are fellow Houserocker bandmates. They are:

Joffo Simmons - Drums
Art Nardini - Bass
Tom Breiding - Guitar, Vocals
Joe Pelesky - Keys, Vocals
Phil Brontz - Saxophone
Bernie Herr - Percussion


With Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers:

"Rock and Real" - Rounder Records, 1989
"Swimming With the Sharks" - Rounder Records, 1991
"End of the Century" - Razor and Tie, 1992
"American Babylon" - Razor and Tie, 1995
"Coming Home" - Big Star, 1997
"Down the Road Apiece, Live" - Schoolhouse Records, 1999
"True Companion" - Schoolhouse Records, 2003

With Bill Toms and Hard Rain:

"Paradise Avenue" - Schoolhouse Records, 1997
"My Own Eyes" - Moondog Records, 1999
"This Old World" - Moondog/Schoolhouse Records, 2001

Bill Toms; Solo:

"One Lonesome Moment" - Out of the Rain Records, 2002

For additional information or bookings contact Brian Higgins Management. 732-988-3081



to write a review

Washington Pa Observer Reporter

Sequencing is a vital task for record producers. Draw the listener in, keep him interested and sustain the momentum to a rousing conclusion.

The opening salvo of the leadoff track takes care of the first part of that equation on the new album by Bill Toms and Hard Rain. Bill delivers an infectious guitar riff that screams, "We mean business!" The full band kicks in to reinforce the message, paving the way for a tune so well-constructed that it has the listener singing along midway through his first spin of the disc.

The song is "Another Round for the West End Kid," and the album is named "The West End Kid." Its official launch by Bill and his band will be during a CD release party at 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, at Cefalo's, 428 Washington Ave., Carnegie.

The album is the fourth by Bill Toms and Hard Rain, or the fifth, if you count Bill's solo album, "One Lonesome Moment." Not only does "The West End Kid" pack a wallop right from the beginning, it manages to sustain the pace through nine well-crafted compositions. (Or 10, if you count the bonus jam from the opening track provided as a two-minute treat at the album's conclusion.)

Bill creates a landscape for the album that ties in closely with his Pittsburgh roots. As he told me, this is a city that really lends itself to inspiration for songs, and that influence comes to the forefront on "The West End Kid."

"Another Round," for example, portrays the plight of a boxer who's well past his heyday - the album is "in memory of Perry Petrone, the real West End Kid" - and features lyrics that make no secret of the locale: "In a steel town you do what's expected/ No one here has high expectations."

The album abounds with characters written into the songs, with references to everyone from Frankie and Caveman at Paige's bar, to Jane the secretary, to Betsy, "who's only 16, there's darkness in her soul." The net effect is to help convey the gritty realism of Bill's lyrics by helping the listener identify with the situations presented. (Springsteen comparisons probably are inevitable, but this album stands on its own merit without reading too much of other people's work into it.)

The playing is stellar throughout; as is the case with Bill himself, many of the guys in his band also are members of Pittsburgh mainstays the Houserockers. Speaking of which, Joe Grushecky co-produced "The West End Kid" and does a guest spot on the upbeat rocker "She Takes Me Home."

And speaking of production, the album's sequencing carries the listener through a stylistic rollercoaster, showcasing the band's versatility. The roar of the opening track meshes into the catchy, if melancholy, sax obbligato by Phil Brontz on "This Is Nowhere." A subdued drum shuffle by Joffo Simmons leads off the next track, the relatively quiet "I Was in Love With You," in which Bill draws effectively from the Dylan-Knopfler school of vocals.

Then it's time for heavy riffs again, with the epic "I Don't Live There Anymore," which features an extended jam that shows just how much this band can cook. From there, it't time to explore a bit of country blues (musically, at least) with "Satan's On My Shoulder (Jesus Ain't Nowhere in Sight)," with guest Marc Reisman on harp. Then Joe Pelesky's piano provides a funky lead-in to the R&B-flavored "I'll Take My Pride."

Bill shares one writing credit on the album, with guitarist-singer Tom Breiding (from Peters Township) assisting on "In the Paradise," a song that would be right at home on one of Tom's own albums.

"I'm Walking With An Angel Tonight" closes out the proceedings (besides the jam coda), with Jill Simmons providing backing vocals on a highly atmospheric piece.

Whew! That all makes for a heck of a journey, and I'd recommend that anyone who likes good music - particularly of the homegrown variety - take it with "The West End Kid."