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About Us

53 Willys plays an eclectic mix of American rock with blues and folk influences.  While other bands strive to define themselves in one category of music, 53 Willys lets the music speak for itself.  When you come to a 53 Willys show, you will get a wide variety of music. You are bound to find something you like!

The band has performed at numerous venues in and around Detroit including: Cadieux Café, PJ’s Lager House, Ye Old Tap Room in Detroit, Rustic Cabins (Gross Point), Royal Oak Brewery, WRIF’s Rock for Tots (2013-2016), Freedom Hill Festival (Sterling Heights) and  New Way bar (Ferndale), and many more (see out resume for more details).  We have also recorded many of our originals via a 7 song live EP at Groove Box studio in Detroit and 2 self-produced  CDs: 4 Wheel Low and Unlugged.

The band formed circa 2011, when Shawn invited long-time friend Todd Wire out to “Studio 13” (a.k.a. Shawn’s garage annex) to jam with Phil and Dan. Right away, it was apparent that our styles complimented one another.  With a mutual desire to create their own music, they started to write original songs, not focusing on any one style. In short order, with 9 new songs, the unnamed band was eager to play out to see how people would respond to their music.

Needing an identity before the New Way show, 53 Willys was chosen. The name honors the 1953 Willys jeep. Todd actually drove one in high school.  Our original song of the same name also harkens back to the pivotal role this vehicle played in WWII and Korea, making this song a homage to our parents “greatest” generation. Todd asked Eastside Elvis band if we could open a show for them. Without listening to their music, they agreed to take a chance (Todd is quite the salesman).  53 Willys opened for Eastside Elvis at the New Way bar in Ferndale. The positive feedback from the first gig was encouraging. We followed up with shows at Cadieux Café and The Berkley Front and have been performing regularly ever since.

On May 12, 2012 the band recorded a live 7 song EP and shot a video at GrooveBox Studios Detroit.  This EP was made possible using KickStarter and the live EP was released to all who supported the project. Building on this experience, 53 Willys went back into the studio and recorded their first album called Four Wheel Low.  The CD release party was held at The Cadieux Cafe in May of 2013.  In October of 2014, 53 Willys started recording a 5 song EP called Unlugged. The tracks were finished by years end and Maui was debut on Desolation Angel Radio on 1-8-15.  The CD release party for Unlugged was held at the Cadieux Cafe on February 7th, 2015.