About Peter Chase Wetherill

Peter was born in sunny southern California but only spent his first four years living with his parents in Whittier. His childhood was spent in Lubbock Texas, Ada Ohio, Greenville and Erie Pennsylvania.

He took to music at a young age enjoying sitting next to his mom on the piano bench while she practiced. At eight years old he began piano lessons and at ten started taking trombone lessons and playing in the school band. He excelled in the band and was 1st chair 1st trombone. He also learned to improvise and play in the stage band and even was accepted to summer high school jazz camp at Eastman School of Music.

Outside of school he started to perform professionally at thirteen with the Dale Higgins Big Band. He also performed with The Erie Mavericks Drum and Bugle Corps, the Erie Playhouse Orchestra, and the Erie Jr. Philharmonic Orchestra.

After graduating with honors from Strong Vincent High School, he was accepted as a music major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He excelled in his studies and achieved 1st chair in all university ensembles. Outside of the University he was selected to join the  27th Lancers Drum and Bugle Corps from Boston Massachusetts and spent two summers touring the US and competing in the DCI national championships. This group received many honors and was even asked to perform at the 1980 winter Olympics in Lake Placid NY.

After receiving his degree in music education he immediately was accepted to substitute teach in all of Erie county.  He also taught summer band camps and had numerous private students. He also gave low brass clinics at many area high schools and was an assistant band director at McDowell HS. Along with teaching he performed in many local groups including big bands, jazz combos, concert bands, blues bands, top forty cover bands and show bands.

In the 1980’s the economy started to have problems in the area (the rust belt). He and some friends decided to relocate to the Tampa Bay area. He immediately started performing in show bands and various jazz groups as well as teaching private lessons. He also started working for a local music store and later was asked to join their jazz ensemble and perform in the stores jazz nightclub on a regular basis.

After the club closed he was asked to join the Derby Lane Big Band which performed six days a week for six months of the year.  This historic big band, which was part of the Derby Lane Dog Track, performed continuously since the 1920’s. During the off-season he auditioned for Pro Ship Entertainment and was offered a contract with Celebrity Cruise Lines. After completing the contract he continued to perform at Derby Lane until the big band was dismantled due to financial reasons.

He then started working for Renaissance Cruise lines and was promoted to musical director. While working a contract in Tahiti he met his future wife who is from Portugal. He later moved to Portugal and began performing with numerous jazz and pop groups around the country. He now lives there with his wife and son and has retired from performing, and is now concentrating on his writing career.


4 thoughts on “About Peter Chase Wetherill

    alfonso villarino said:
    23 de December de 2018 at 2:28

    I was a closed friend of the familly.Would love to get in touch with you


      peterwetherill responded:
      23 de December de 2018 at 18:27

      Hi Alfonso! I would love to talk to you also. I remember you from Greenville. That last I heard you were living in New Jersey. How is your family and the “coos” as my mom called your twins? Hope to hear from you so we can exchange contacts such as e-mail or social media. Merry Christmas!


      alfonso villarino said:
      24 de December de 2018 at 0:33

      Hi,Pete,you don’t know how happy I am to have made contact with you.Seeing your picture now as a grown man,when I still remember you as a 14 year old baffles me.I thought about your parents often,but for one reason or another never had the courage to reach out to them.My life has been a true odissey,a pilgrimage:lived in NJ for25 years,mopved to Venezuela for 5 years after retirement,came back to the USA and now reside outside Tampa.As you may know I was borne 20 miles from the Portuguese boarder and still spend my summers in Spain.Having made contact with you is a matter of closure for me,I need to know what happened to your parents,since as you know bI was close to your father.My wife died in 96 from an aneurism,one twin lives in NJ the other in La and my daughter in Denver


        peterwetherill responded:
        24 de December de 2018 at 18:31

        Hi Fonso! As you know my dad moved to Erie where I lived until 1986 and Frank until 1988 after his mother died and left him a small inheritance which he used to retire early from GE as a welder. My sister left around 1980 after marrying a drunk, they are now divorced after producing 3 children. My mom and dad divorced in 1981, and my mom remaried a younger man named Jim VanDongen who was a wonderful husband to her. After settling his mothers estate he moved to California to be near his grandkids not far from where my sister ended up with her drunk husband in Westminster. He was a doting grandfather and spoiled them as much as possible. I graduated from IUP as a music education major in 1982 and started substitute teaching and playing in a number of bands in the Erie area. In 1985 the economy hit bottom. I was hired to replace a retiring teacher but they would not give me a full time contract so I got pissed and moved to…..Tampa Florida! Small world isn’t it! I performed in many various groups and worked some day jobs to make ends meet. In 1996 I gave up all day jobs and performed for a living. You might have heard of the Derby Lane Dog Track. I performed there with the big band for 3 years until the track was sold to a conglomerate ant they cut us all 1998. Fortunately I had an audition with a cruise ship entertainment company and they hired me on the spot. I worked for a number of cruise lines over the next 4 years and rose in position as musical director. This was hard since I missed my parents greatly. My dad had a serious stroke in 1994 but recovered somewhat. He needed som home health care since my sister and I were not able to move in with him. Then in 1998 he had another debilitating stroke and was near death. I was in France bringing out a new cruise ship and had to make decisions about his treatment, all risky. I opted to wait and see how his condition was before trying risky treatments. He was mostly paralyzed and could barely speak. In 2000 I was working in a cruise ship our of Tahiti and met a lovely Portuguese fitness instructor and we fell in love. After the contract ended I visited her in Sintra Portugal near Lisbon. I decided to give up the cruise ship life and moved there in 2001. We married in 2003 and had our son in 2010. Shortly after 9/11 my mom called me and told me she had Mantle Cell Lymphoma. Jim had great insurance since he worked for the New Hampshire state congress. They lived in Concord. Her treatment went well for the first four years then she turned for the worse. I was planning a visit in October of 2006 but she passed on September 15. My visit turned into a remembrance with over 100 people attending. She gave piano lessons almost until the end of her life. Of course I was devastated. My dad was also doing poorly and was hospitalized with chronic infections for six months. On December 19 2006 he passed with blood poisoning. Of course I was devastated. I traveled to LA shortly after Christmas. I am so sorry to hear about your wife. I remember her fondly, her British accent and a great mom.I have many fond memories of you, teaching me how to kick. Are you a grand dad yet? My dad was very fond of you and you were a great friend to him.


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