Wes Dearth, Tampa’s most successful hidden talent, plays regularly at local spots AJ’s on the River and The Talking Pint.

By Brian Bokor

Brandon’s own Wes Dearth (better known internationally as John Wesley) has seen his share of success in the music industry enjoying thousands of fans around the globe, hundreds of shows worldwide and dozens of studio album appearances, many his own solo projects.

The list of artists Dearth has played alongside include some of rock’s biggest stars, being most associated with former local bands Autodrive and Sister Hazel as well as being affectionately known as the fifth member of the band Porcupine Tree. Dearth’s musical background is well documented with numerous interviews available online.

But “the times, they are a-changin’,” and life in the music business is tough. Recently, COVID-19—but before that, management, record labels, publishers, venues, streaming and download services and piracy—have cut into artists’ income, and it’s estimated they only receive 12 percent of revenues generated by their work. Live performances, merchandise and direct online sales now provide the lion’s share of their earnings, and this is where we can help.

I caught up with Dearth, his wife, Becka, and 8-year-old son, John, after his Wednesday night acoustic performance at AJ’s on the River in Riverview, and found that looking back is not something Dearth dwells on.

Quite the opposite, he’s looking forward to enjoying life as father, husband and continuing his work with The Heroes Journey, a locally-run nonprofit dedicated to veterans and first responders transitioning from service to civilian life, which Dearth provided sound for the play “Last Out – Elegy of a Green Beret.”

“The one aspect of the past I never mind revisiting is catching up with old friends,” said Dearth.

The locally raised couple (Dearth was born in St Anthony’s, attend Nativity Catholic, wrestled for and graduated from Brandon High in 1980, with Becka being a 1993 East Bay grad) recently celebrated their 20th anniversary and look forward to seeing new and old faces at Dearth’s shows.

“We invite anyone that grew up in the area in the 70s, 80s and 90s to come out, say hello and possibly run into some old friends along the way,” they said.

Dearth’s catalog, including free download samples, is available at www.John-Wesley.com, with concert updates available on his Wes Dearth Facebook page. He plays at AJ’s on the River on Wednesdays from 5:30-8:30 p.m. with a monthly show at Riverview’s The Talking Pint.

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