By Wil Crews
The Sound Wall in Opelika is hosting Wyatt Espalin, July 29, with the concert starting at 7:30 p.m.
Entertaining audiences in his hometown of Hiawassee, Georgia, since the young age of 8, Espalin’s passion for music was obvious, even from the music barn stage built by his grandfather on the campground where Espalin was raised. He and his brother, Matt, were known as “The Fiddling Brothers.” While Matt hung up his fiddle and bow after high school, Espalin was just getting started. Armed with a guitar and a desire to write songs, he paired with his friend, Cobi Ferguson, to form the acclaimed Americana duo, Trees Leave. Combining electric guitar with traditional bluegrass roots led to a noticeably unique sound and a growing fan base. Having years of touring under their belts and two successful albums, Run (2008) and The Gospel of Hurt (2010), it was time for Ferguson to settle down, and Espalin to find a new setting fit for a more personal level of songwriting. So alone began his sabbatical to the Ocoee River. While working as a raft guide and caring for his ailing Granddaddy, Wyatt began writing the songs for his debut album.
After releasing his debut album “Songwriter/Singer” in 2015, Espalin went on to win the first Annual New Song Songwriting Contest at North Carolina’s popular L.E.A.F. festival.
He also placed twice as a finalist in the Chris Austin Songwriting competition at Merlefest (2009, 2019), the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival Songwriting Competition (2014, 2019) and Eddie’s Attic Open Mic Shootout (2014, 2015). Espalin won third place at the 2019 Songwriter Serenade.
He has also spent the last few years sharing the stage opening for some of his songwriting idols Indigo Girls, Jennifer Knapp, Kevn Kinney, Chely Wright, Michelle Malone, Shawn Mullins, Patty Loveless, to name a few.
In 2022, Wyatt Espalin shakes things up with his new band the Riverstones and a collection of songs that invites his fans to examine his songwriting through a different lens. After returning to his roots to live at the rustic campground where he was raised by his grandparents in the North Georgia Mountains, he found a setting that would inspire “Diamondback”, a collection of mysterious songs released in 2020 that gave his audience a bird’s eye view of an artist rediscovering himself. Well, this fiddler/singer and champion clogger has discovered more and before the Year of the Rabbit, all may be revealed. Let the enlightenment begin. During his performances, the haunting, intimate songs juxtaposed with the hilarious stories that he shares in the banter between them create a beautiful tension.
Performing solo or traveling with a revolving set of talented musicians as Trees Leave, Wyatt Espalin has found a way to continue writing and performing these songs that have longed to be free; to be pardoned, like the river.
The Sound Wall is located at 605 Avenue B, Opelika, 36801. Tickets for the event are $20, non-refundable. Doors open at 7 p.m. This is a bring your own beverage (BYOB) event. For more information: www.thesoundwallopelika.com/events/wyatt-espalin.