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Local Local Series wit hThe Wetsuits
The Hive
Kennebunk, ME
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Local Local Series wit hThe Wetsuits

The Wetsuits are Jim O'Neil, Dana Pearson, and Byon Yeatts. Jim mainly focuses on percussion (his Roland v-Drums for electric gigs and djembe for acoustic engagements), Dana plays his Fender Precision bass, and Byon switches between his Gibson Les Paul and Taylor T5-12. Those with photographic memories will swear they've seen Dana and Byon switch instruments during a performance, but then again, some people swear they've seen a yeti.

The origin of the band name, as well as the origin of the band itself, goes something like this:

Once upon a time, specifically the summer of 2009, Jim received a desperate phone call from Don 'Nuclear' Wessels, with whom he had been playing regular Friday night gigs at a Kennebunkport restaurant/nightspot. Don had agreed to play a benefit gig at Biddeford Pool; however, he could not fulfill his obligation and was looking to hand the reins over to someone he implicitly trusted and respected. That plan falling through, he called Jim, who agreed to do it as long as it wasn't a solo gig.

Since the summer of 2007, Jim had occasionally played at the Port nightspot with Dana and Byon, who had an annoying tendency to show up unannounced and grab the mic and guitar from Don in a frantic bid for attention. Jim figured he could play in public with these guys, asked them if they were available to perform as The Don Wessels Trio (the name under which Don had originally agreed to perform as), and set about rehearsing a few dozen numbers over the next couple of weeks.

Then, one fateful day, Jim's adorable wife Renee picked up the phone. It was the benefit's organizer asking for a band name (instead of the noticeably Wessels-free 'Don Wessels Trio') to be used for promotional purposes. Renee turned to Jim, relayed the message, and without much (if any) thinking at all, Jim pulled 'The Wetsuits' out of thin air (or out of something else). Perhaps he unwittingly connected Biddeford Pool with the ocean and the ocean with diving; or perhaps, since a little boy, he had always wanted a wetsuit for Christmas and had perpetually been denied his wishes until they were repressed so deeply into his subconscious that they could only resurface when asked for a band name to be used for promotional purposes. At any rate, Jim said 'Wetsuits' and we're stuck with it.

They played the gig, had fun, and a couple months later, Dana asked Jim if he'd join him and Byon in a trio. After Dana explained to a spooked Jim that he was referring to a band, Jim consented. The Wetsuits were officially formed.

They spent the winter of 2009-'10 building a repertoire of originals and covers, and played their first official show at the Kennebunk Parks & Rec Department's Summer Concert Series in June, returning to Biddeford Pool for their second performance there the following month. (Continuing what appears to be a tradition, The Wetsuits played at Biddeford Pool for a third time in July 2011.)

The band has played a variety of venues, including Run of the Mill in Saco, Dogfish Bar & Grill in Portland, Shevenell Park in Biddeford, WMPG's live radio show LocalMotives, several private engagements (which shall remain private, because the Pentagon gets all squirrelly about this sort of thing), and a regular acoustic slot at the Oak Street Bistro in Alfred. Feel free to check our listings for upcoming public explosions of musical genius.

But what about an album of all-original material? Good question. And the answer is: keep your shorts on, it's almost done. Fourteen tracks of bona fide Wetsuits music are being worked on and ought to be presentable by the end of the year. (This year, in case you're wondering.) The CD cover photo shoot by Jim's remarkably talented sis Maureen on October 9, during one of those freakishly hot summer-like days, brought us back to Biddeford Pool and resulted in a treasure trove of images, many of which are scattered about on this site. The ones that captured any one of us in our natural state of resembling a mouth-breathing corpse have, of course, been deleted.



The Hive (View)
84 Main Street, route 1
Kennebunk, ME 04043
United States

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Music > Rock

Kid Friendly: No
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!


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