High spirits

Terrapin Road

Something about the name Terrapin Road makes people think the blues band is some kind of Grateful Dead tribute act.

“I tell them, ‘No, man, we’re not dead, we’re live,'” laughs Gary Wheeler, guitarist and lead vocalist of the Reno-based blues outfit. “It’s more about the Road than the Terrapin.”

Call it what you want, Terrapin Road is in the business of lifting spirits.

Together with bassist Michael Ray, drummer Michelle Zito and guitarist Tony Ghiglieri, Wheeler and Terrapin Road are the toast of so-called happy, uplifting “Prozac blues.”

“The term ‘blues,’ in my understanding, comes from a reference to ‘the blue devils,’ meaning ‘down’ spirits, depression and sadness,” says Wheeler. “These are what we are fighting against. Whether it is self-induced or from circumstances beyond our control, either way they need to get dealt with. Just call Terrapin Road a ‘non-prescription anti-depression therapy.'”

While Wheeler’s list of influences is literally all over space and time, from blues and beyond, Terrapin Road is a sweet gumbo of musical influence.

“Michael has roots in country, Michelle in jazz, Tony in rock, jazz and classical,” says Wheeler, adding that the Terrapin Road sound is constantly evolving forward.

“We sound way different than we did three years ago, and we will probably sound different in another year. We seek growth in tone and groove.

“When folks come to hear us play, we are aware of the diversity of experiences in our audience. Every night, we meet someone who needs a lift or some help getting through some hard times, and if we can take a few hours and provide the vehicle of distraction for relaxing, then we

have done our job. Bottom line? Have a good time!”