Bios

 
Rick Simkins
Guitar and vocals
Scott Wilson
Saxophone, keyboards and percussion
Gayle Gutierrez
Vocals
Bridget Joos
Vocals
Bob Sellers
Sound
Bill Sellers
Drums and vocals
Karen Corley
Vocals, keyboards and saxophone
Erica Crosser
Vocals
Mike Yocum
Bass and vocals
 
 

Rick Simkins

Rick Simkins was born in Peoria, Illinois on August 29, 1957. He is the youngest of five in his family and the last of the baby boom era. Rick's dad worked for Caterpillar Tractor Company and Rick's mom was a nurse. His three sisters and brother raised him on 60s rock 'n' roll. His mom got Rick his first guitar by saving S&H Green Stamps. The guitar was the greatest gift Rick had ever received.

Rick began taking lessons and formed his first band Prism Blues in eighth grade. That band stayed together all during high school playing wherever they could find a paying gig. It was during Rick's high school years that he heard the Doobie Brothers band. He went to every concert of theirs he could and played all their songs. You can definitely hear the Tom Johnston/Pat Simmons influence in Rick's writing. Rick attended Illinois Wesleyan University on a football scholarship and continued performing with the band Lambrusco (a five-piece funk/rock group). During these years, he began to write original music to be performed by the band. After college, Rick took a job teaching at a junior high school in East Peoria, Illinois. He had quit playing due to the demands of teaching and coaching, however he soon found he missed performing. It was then his mom told him that Tom Johnston was going to be on a public television special. Watching Tom's performance on TV told Rick it was time to get back playing, so his first professional band Juice was formed. Rick and Bill Sellers started playing together while playing for Juice. After playing for six years trying to make it big, the band dissolved. Rick and Bill still had the fire inside them to perform, but on a more limited basis, so the West MacQueen Street Band was formed. The band evolved into a great band but then the challenge was to make a great CD for everyone to hear, which they did with their first recorded effort, Street Signs. Then in 2007, WMSB released its sophomore effort, 1204.

Rick and the band are currently working on their next CD, entitled Seasons. He is currently a junior high school principal in Germantown, Illinois. School, his wife Beverly, son Mitch and grandaughter Cami keep Rick very busy!

E-mail: westmacst@comcast.net

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Bill Sellers

Bill Sellers was born in Peoria, Illinois. The School Sisters of Notre Dame were the first to encourage Bill as a percussionist. In the words of Sister Mary Carmella, "Some people are singers and some people are clappers, clap right along young man!" Bill's parents encouraged his musical interests, with a toy drum received for Christmas (the head quickly broken) an early memory. At the age of 10, the "band man" made an appearance at the grade school and Bill eagerly selected the drums. There was no other choice. Much to his parents chagrin, practice was always enjoyed. Stints in various grade school bands and lessons with some of the area's best drummers fueled Bill's musical fire. The Beatles, Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, the Tonight Show Band, the Beach Boys, John Philip Sousa, Chicago, Led Zeppelin, the Who, Yes, ELO and more all created a musical soup that was expressed in some of Bill's early bands. U.S. Steal was born among friends in 1970. Through high school and for several years after, the band enjoyed great success playing dates in the Midwest with a loyal following.

In 1976, Bill broke his back and damaged his right shoulder. Through physical rehabilitation, one goal was constant—to play drums. In 1979, Bill joined the band Juice with Rick Simkins. Since then, Bill and Rick have played many dates with many different groups of players. Big jobs or small jobs, the enjoyment is the thing. Whether recording, playing or just practicing, love of music is the key.

Bill lives with his wife Jane, two children and Archie the dog. Sailing, scuba diving, skiing, auto racing, kid activities and mowing occupy Bill's free time when he is not working as Sales Manager and Communications Systems Designer for Thompson Electronics Company.

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Scott Wilson

Scott Wilson was born on May 16, 1974 in Homewood, Illinois (about 30 minutes south of Chicago). At about this time, his father and uncle took ownership of the family rental business from Scott's grandfather. It truly was a family run store, employing grandma, aunt and uncle, their two sons and eventually his older sister and Scott. He was assured a job with the company if he wanted to stay with them, but Scott had different goals.

Scott began his love for music at an early age, always participating in the school choir and eventually joined the band in fifth grade. After a couple of years as the "ringer" of the saxophone section, he hooked up with some talented 8th graders and started a jazz combo. This greatly shaped his musical interest. Although they only played Watermelon Man by Herbie Hancock, playing with the Jazz Llamas was a thrill for Scott. In high school, he honed his skills as a saxophonist to be accepted to the University of Illinois School of Music on a scholarship. Studying under professor Debra Richtmeyer, Scott eventually sat as the principal alto saxophonist in his band and was the saxophone section leader for the Marching Illini. He also diversified his musical interests, performing in coffee houses and bars for a jazz band/steel drum ensemble and was part of the pep band. He even was a chime ringer for the historic Altgeld Hall bell tower on the quad. Additionally, Scott was presented a wind division (saxophone) award and the Guy M. Duker Music Educator Award from the university. Wilson also served as a saxophone consultant for The Complete Woodwind Instructor - a guidebook for the music educator. In his spare time, he received Bachelors and Masters degrees in Music Education.

Scott taught in the elementary and junior high schools of East Peoria, Illinois from 1996-2000. He currently teaches instrumental and vocal music at Belleville West Township High School. In addition to being a private lesson instructor, he has been invited to guest conduct, adjudicate band contests and run woodwind clinics throughout the state. Musicians that had a major influence in Scott's life are the Doobie Brothers, Charlie Parker, David Sanborn, Stevie Wonder, Phil Collins, Billy Joel, his high school band director and his good friends from 8th grade that made him see how much fun music could be! When Scott is not teaching or playing, he enjoys traveling, jogging, skiing and playing golf.

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Karen Corley

Karen (Dunham) Corley was born in Peoria, Illinois. She began singing in church and school choirs early on. At age five, she sang for the first time in front of an audience in a duet with her brother and has been hooked on performing ever since. Band, chorus and theatre became a big part of life for Karen throughout grade school and high school. After graduating from Washington High School, with the future being a toss-up between Music Education and Business, she began attending Illinois Central College.

 

It was during her studies at ICC that she was approached by a classmate and asked if she would be interested in trying out for a singing part that was opening in a band. That band was Juice, with Rick Simkins and Bill Sellers. When asked if she could not only sing but also try a hand at the saxophone, Karen jumped to the challenge. She spent the next two and a half years splitting time between college classes at ICC and then Illinois State University, working in the fast food industry to pay for it and singing on weekends with Juice. After the band split up,she took some time off before joining the pop/dance band Pedigo. However, motherhood and being a wife made music take a back seat while she raised three children, Samantha, Brandon and Nicolas.

 

Karen filled in a few times with the West MacQueen Street Band when, for various reasons, a place needed filled. Then, in May 2003, Rick approached and asked if she would be interested in getting back into the business full time. Thanks to her understanding husband Douglas, Karen now spends weekends performing with the band when she is not working as the Accounting Manager for Woolf Distributing, shuttling the kids to their various functions and entertaining and enjoying the company of friends when time allows. So much for free time!

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Gayle Gutierrez

Gayle Gutierrez was born in Peoria, Illinois and was the 14th of 17 children in her family (!). Since she can remember she has always sang, starting in her church choir. However, she didn't sing solo until her later teens. Gayle was too shy for drama or musicals in high school and, by her own admission, she was a "late bloomer!" Nevertheless, being from a big family meant she had to get attention somehow and, when she was 17, she sang solo at her sister's wedding.

 

Many wedding engagements followed her sister's. Rick's wife Beverly knew Gayle could sing and encouraged her to try out for the West MacQueen Street Band when they were looking for a singer. She joined the band in May 2005 and the rest, as they say, is history!

 

Gayle's profession is working with children with disabilities. She likes all kinds of music, especially country, dance music and ballads. Gayle is married to Ron (since the tender age of 20) and together they have three great children: Isaiah, Raven and Xavier.

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Erica Crosser

Erica was born in Los Angeles CA and her family moved to Illinois in 1986. They moved first to Chicago and then to Joliet IL in 1990 and Erica calls Joliet her hometown. She attended Joliet West High School, where she was involved in drama, choir and school musicals.

 

Erica's love for music came from her parents. Her mother would always be singing to oldies music and her father would play his guitar. At sixteen she sang Karaoke for the first time and, according to Erica, "I became hooked!" She found that she enjoyed singing and that singing and dancing relaxed her. By the way, Erica and her friends still like to sing Karaoke, although they don't get out to do it as often in recent years.

 

Erica married Jason Crosser on July 28, 2006, at Starved Rock in Utica IL. It was on their honeymoon that she and her husband discussed moving to the Peoria IL area. Jason's family had moved to central Illinois in 2005. Since Erica's mother lived in California and her father had passed away a few years prior, the couple thought it would be nice to live closer to Jason's family and they moved to central Illinois.

 

While looking for a job in late November 2006, Erica came across an ad saying "Female Singer wanted..." She was curious as to what it was for, so she talked to Rick later that same evening. He explained all about WMSB and, in the middle of his explanation, Erica says, "I knew it would be something I'd be interested in." About a week later Rick and Karen came to her home for an audition. It went very well and Erica describes it pretty simply: "We went over a few songs before they welcomed me in the band!"

 

Since Erica's parents were such a big influence on her love of music, she's glad when her mom can make it to central Illinois to see her perform and she wishes that her dad could be here to see her as well.

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Bridget Joos

Bridget (Albrecht) Joos was raised in central Illinois most of her life, growing up in Mackinaw, IL since the age of 9. Bridget's first experience with music was listening to her parents old 8-track tapes and records of Barry Manilow, Don McLean and Sonny and Cher as a child. Bridget's first experience singing was participating in the Happiness Seekers Choir at her church. The choir performed a musical every year. She also enjoyed dancing at a young age attending ballet lessons.

 

At 16, Bridget sang her first solo publicly in her hometown pageant, which she won. From there, she was a guest performer in many other local pageants and she began performing the national anthem at local Peoria ball games as well as participating in theater opportunities. Although music was her first love, she also was active in sports such as cheerleading, softball and volleyball. A favorite memory of hers took place when the two worlds collided during her Senior year before an important volleyball game. "As everyone rose for the national anthem, the music on the tape would not work, so the principal was ready to give up when everyone on my team turned to me and pushed me towards the microphone. With only a moment's notice, I sang the national anthem acappella, right before playing the best game of my life! It's a great memory."

 

After graduating from Deer Creek Mackinaw high school, Bridget attended Illinois Central College and then Illinois State University where she graduated in 1999 with a Bachelors degree of Science in Education and minor in Psychology. Bridget also holds an Early Childhood Teaching Certificate.

 

Bridget has taught preschool for the past 4 years, and owns her own preschool, dance and tumbling center in Mackinaw. Her love of music led her to becoming a certified Kindermusik instructor and offering classes for young children in her studio. Since marrying her husband Nate and having their two young sons, there hasn't been much time for singing, but after coming across an ad in the local newspaper about a band looking for a female vocalist, Bridget thought she might give it a shot!

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Mike Yocum

Mike was born on June 13, 1955 in Peoria, Illinois and has lived in the heart of Illinois most of his life. He attended St. Mark's Grade School and in fifth grade he met Bill Sellers there—a friendship that he still treasures today. While they were attending Spalding Institute together, Bill, Mike and some friends formed the popular central Illinois band U.S. Steal, which both played with for several years. In 1975, Mike joined Young American Showcase and toured the Midwest, East Coast and Canada with the rock and comedy group Free Fare, doing high school and junior high school assembly programs for a year and a half. In the mid-nineties, Mike had the opportunity to fulfill a dream he'd had for years and play with the Yes tribute band Envision while living in Ohio. Since he returned to central Illinois in 1996, he has played in praise and worship bands in churches around the Peoria area.

 

As a friend of both Bill Sellers and Rick Simkins, Mike filled in on bass in the West MacQueen Street Band on occasion when called upon. When Rick offered him a chance to join the band in December 2005, the timing was right and Mike came in at the beginning of February 2006.

 

Mike is a big fan of the (so-called) English Progressive Rock movement, which featured bands such as Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, King Crimson and Genesis—an influence you can hear in his playing. His favorite bass players include Chris Squire, Tony Levin, Jaco Pastorius, Jeff Berlin, Joe Osborn and James Jamerson. Mike works at Caterpillar Inc. as a Senior IT Analyst and lives in Washington, Illinois with his beautiful wife Karen and they have two wonderful children, Kyle and Amy.

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Bob Sellers

Bob Sellers, WMSB's sound wizard, was raised in Peoria, Illinois where he grew up with four other siblings. Bob's two older brothers, Jim and Billy, beat the hell out of him as well as any good sense into him. Bob was also helped along by his two sisters, Linda and Barb—one older who helped shape his view of the world and one younger who helped shape his view of fun. Along with these four people were Bob's parents, Margaret and Bill. When Bob was young, his Dad would play Sousa marches during Saturday housecleaning to get the kids motivated (it worked). Mom's favorites were Gershwin, Glenn Miller and such. Sister Linda supplied his house with the Beatles, the Searchers, Simon & Garfunkel, and the Ship, while brother Billy filled the house with Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Alice Cooper and his own band (U.S. Steal, whose members included Mike Yocum, Jim Bayless, Ralph Gunderson, Steve Stanard, et al.), controlling the evening sounds with wonderful music. Sometimes late at night, though, the sounds moved from wonderful to that of young drunken idiots with and without girlfriends. In the meantime, brother Jim filled the airwaves everywhere else by way of his state-of-the-art stereo in his VW convertible. From his convertible you could hear anything from Jay Ferguson (Thunder Island, Shakedown Cruise) to the Kings (This Beat Goes On, Switchin' To Glide) to David Bowie and Bing Crosby (Little Drummer Boy—yes, odd but true, David and Bing sang this as a duet). Baby sister Barb brought in Steely Dan, Madonna, April Wine, and all those great (?) 80s hair/metal bands.

Bob likes Dean Martin, Mark Wood, Flying D'rito Brothers, Applegate & Company, ELO, Brian Setzer's Orchestra, the Cars and of course the West MacQueen Street Band (or WMSB, as he also likes the Michael Stanley Band [MSB]).

Bob sounds very confused—until SHOWTIME!

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