Henry Lysy – he knew immediately he had to step up his game
Henry Lysy grew up in the suburbs outside of Baltimore, Maryland. His grandfather immigrated from Ukraine. His father, who was his greatest musical influence, grew up in Rhode Island and his mother Susan was from a large Italian New York family. They met when his father was stationed in New York with the Coast Guard. Henry is the oldest son by eight years and takes full credit for his parents waiting a while before their second child.
Henry began playing the trumpet in the fifth grade, continuing through high school when the trumpet didn’t seem cool. He played keyboard next and was invited to play in a band. During high school, Henry discovered girls really liked keyboard players. Later, a group of friends started a band and suggested Henry play bass guitar. He found an electric bass in a pawn shop.
Lysy graduated from high school in 1992. He really enjoyed playing bass and wanted to study music in college. His parents were very supportive but pointed out there wasn’t much work for a musician in the area so he studied Industrial Design in Pittsburgh. He graduated as a designer, producing exhibit designs, architectural designs, and civil engineering designs.
Henry returned to Baltimore, got married, and began working as a designer. He was successful at it but did not enjoy the commercial design work. He became depressed and frustrated.
When Henry was young, the Lysy family had taken a cruise and had visited Key West. He remembered it and suggested to his wife Janine they check out the Keys. In 2014, while camping in Marathon, they struck up a conversation with the people in the next tent—it was Key West musician, Ross Brown. Their conversation eventually led to a discussion of music and Brown invited them to come down to Key West for a couple of days and stay with him.
While in Key West, Brown had a gig with Tony Baltimore at the Lazy Gecko. Henry was introduced to Tony. After the gig, they went to the Green Parrot and then to the Smokin’ Tuna where Henry was introduced to a half dozen other musicians. Henry Lysy was bitten by the bug.
Lysy had played in bands on the weekends for a long time but had never been a full-time musician. He realized that when in Baltimore, he worked in design so he could play music with friends. When he told his friends that he wanted to move to Key West and become a full-time musician, they were very skeptical. His wife encouraged him so they sold their house and moved to Key West.
Henry’s Baltimore friend, Jerome Matteo, played drums with Jimmy’s Chicken Shack band and knew Andy Westcott and Tony Baltimore in Key West. He said he would call them and give a recommendation. The recommendation was important — Henry is now a member of the Andy Wescott Band and plays with Tony regularly.
While driving down to the Keys, Henry called Ross Brown. Upon arrival, they hooked up and within two days, he was playing his first gig with Brown, the late Yvonne Agbo, and Richie Ciavolino at the Lazy Gecko. After the gig, he met Caffeine Carl and several other musicians. It was game on!
While in Baltimore, Henry had played with a number of musicians in bands that would get together and rehearse. He quickly discovered that the bands in Key West had a much higher level of musicianship. They didn’t rehearse and, while on stage, the leader would usually just ask, “What do you want to play next?” Henry knew immediately that he had to step up his game.
After eight years in Key West, Henry has noticed that the music scene has gotten better every year with an increased in the number of bands performing: Jerrod Isaman started several successful bands, his latest is called Jerico. Tony Baltimore has his own band as well as a group called The Beatle Band. The Marshall Morlock Band is playing more often. Ross Brown’s band Cayo Ritmo performs all over town. The Durtbags have performed together for over 12 years. Caffeine Carl and the Buzz have been around for over a decade. Bill Blue and the Nervous Guys with his famous Green Parrot Soundchecks lasted until 2020.
Henry likes the band scene. The Andy Wescott Band hardly ever takes a gig unless they can all perform together. They’re all best friends. It’s less money than the solo players but, musically, it’s much more enjoyable. The band was invited to record at the Skywalker Studio in Marin County, California. They were amazingly popular with George Lucas and his staff. They have been invited back, and Lucas wants to use the Disney staff to video their studio work for promos. The Andy Wescott Band is planning to release their album soon and on vinyl.
The late Wayne Hammond, renowned bass player with the Pete & Wayne Show, was often called for private parties and corporate events. He was usually too busy and would recommend they call Henry Lysy for bass guitar. Henry felt that was a huge compliment.
This past October, the Andy Wescott Band attended the induction ceremony, for their fellow guitarist Rick Fusco, into the Delaware Rock & Roll Society in Wilmington. They performed three songs with their friend and now Hall of Fame band member.
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