Terry Wetmore “…There is something special inside the people you meet in Key West.”
Terry Wetmore was born in Schenectady, New York. When he was growing up, the local school district emphasized the arts instead of sports. The school would win state awards for vocals, wind ensembles, and string ensembles. As part of his free public education, Wetmore studied music from the second grade through high school with a great faculty and quality instruments. He formed his first band after seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show.
In the early 1970s, he joined a band, The Blue Sparks from Hell, an early “do-it-yourself” touring group. They bought an old Greyhound bus, outfitted it with bunks and a forward lounge, and went on the road. They recorded and sold 45 RPM records and T-shirts. The money paid a touring band was not bad in the late 1970s. They toured the East Coast, working their way down to Key West around Fantasy Fest. Sloppy Joe’s booked them and put them up in the band house on Catherine Street. Key West became a reward the band looked forward to after intense touring. The Blue Sparks kept at it until 1990.
To Wetmore, playing live music was the purest expression of music. He loved getting connected with his audience and there was no place better to do that than in Key West. Terry spent most of his life in New York, and felt, “A musician would be hard pressed to earn the money that can be earned in Key West.”
In 2000, Wetmore’s wife Jane Grannis retired from teaching school, and they bought a house in Key West. His first gig in Key West was playing with Larry Baeder. Later, he began playing five nights a week on the Fury catamaran “Commotion on the Ocean”, with the Cory Heydon Band.
Wetmore was also a member of That Hippie Band with Gary Hempsey, Russ Scavelli, Tom Conger, Will Hoppey, and Pete Jarvis. They play old jam-band tunes. Their motto was as long as one member knows a little bit of a song, “We’ll follow him to hell and back.” They began singing Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane tunes and continued with many of the hits from the 60s and 70s.
In 2010 on a sunset cruise Terry met Hiram Garzaro, who introduced Terry to the electronic drum kits he had been using. It was difficult and time consuming to setup and breakdown a full drum kit aboard the sunset catamaran, the electronic drum pad would make the gigs much easier for Terry. The following day, Hiram met Terry at his home and gave him one of his drum pads to try out – they became very good friends.
They continued to speak and see each other when Garzaro was in Key West for gigs. The next summer, Wetmore planned to go up north for three weeks. He asked Garzaro to take his place on the Fury gig, and said he could stay at Terry’s house – basically a free vacation. This practice continued for several years and would expand from a few weeks every year until Hiram was in Key West for almost four months at through the Summer months. He basically became ‘Terry Wetmore’ when Terry was out of town. Their friendship continued to grow. Hiram moved to Key West in 2015. Hiram would often just hang out with Terry and his wife, Jane, discussing music.
Terry, Jane, and Hiram evacuated from Hurricane Irma together to Terry’s Virginia home. He and Terry remained the closest of friends until Terry unexpectedly passed away in February 2020. Jane gave Hiram, Terry’s favorite, and very beautiful, Gretsch drum kit. He plays it often and when he does, says he feels Terry’s spirit is with him.
Wetmore’s greatest joy was creating music in a place like Key West. The thriving original music scene in town attracted a lot of people who are very good at recording and producing. Key West is much more than just being conducive to creativity. According to Terry, there is something special inside the people you meet in Key West that makes the Key West music scene great. His friend and fellow drummer Hiram Garzaro would agree.
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