Stamen Dexter Wetzel 1943-2021
This article is written in loving memory of my dear friend, guitarist, and colleague, Stamen Dexter Wetzel.
Stamen and I met in 1970 shortly after a concert I did in May in Los Angeles at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre of that year. It was attended then by his late wife, Esther and by a twist of fate a contact was made. It was revealed that Stamen was studying flamenco guitar with Jeronimo Villarino who was my guitarist in the past and with whom I had performed on a number of occasions.
Stamen sat at the feet of the master for seven years and was Villarino’s student until Villarino’s death.
Because of this connection Stamen was special in so many ways. He was a natural musician, with an instinctive musicality, He became a wonderful accompanist and knowledgeable exponent of traditional flamenco. And I believe he developed his artistry to the highest category.
He had absolute pitch and an unerring rhythmic sense. Esther, Stamen’s late wife began her studies with me and soon after that I began teaching privately in my home studio. My enrollment of students grew large and I continued for the next 23 years In the early years of this period, Stamen became accompanist for these classes and perfected his skill in following the dance.
Eventually, I employed him as my guitarist in various performances and as time went on, we became close friends and fellow artists in the finest sense.
In my very long career spanning some eighty odd years I have worked with fifty guitarists in some capacity and with almost 20 flamenco singers, Stamen was unsurpassed in so many aspects in his artistry and dedication to this powerful form. He also was a generous and kind human being.
His passing on October 29th is shattering to me as a dancer and friend and he will never be forgotten.
A photo of Stamen and Patrick Lindley (Harpsichordist) and myself accompanies this tribute.
This was taken in February of 2005 after a performance we did at Brentwood Concert Hall presented by SCBA (Southern California Baroque Association) .Stamen accompanied me in two flamenco dances, Solea and Zapateado del Estampio. for this program.