Outlaw Country singer Zach Willdee combines energetic performances with his raw talent to bear a voice bigger than his body and stories older than his boots. Growing up in Massachusetts, writing beneath the shade of the New England pines, Zach Willdee began his musical career busking on the street corners of Provincetown, Massachusetts at 14 years old. By age 16, he earned the name “The Barefoot Brother.” Lifeguarding on the Atlantic coast during the day and street performing at night he reflects, “They called me that because I didn’t wear any shoes when I performed on the tarmac. They thought it was the funniest thing that this barefoot lifeguard was playing music.” It wasn’t long before Willdee moved from playing on the tarmac to playing local bars, with lines of people wrapping around the block, waiting to get in.
But long before that, Willdee would attend the annual Grey Fox and Joe Val Bluegrass Festivals in New England with his father. He fondly remembers jumping in on a picking circle at age 12, and then realizing he was playing with the Steel Drivers and Chris Stapelton. “They were all so welcoming it really sparked something in me and spurred me on,” Willdee laughs.
Inspired by writers like Steve Earle, John Prine, and Merle Haggard, he began writing his own songs at the age of 16. Willdee later apprenticed under Darrell Scott (songwriter for The Dixie Chicks, Travis Tritt, Beyoncé, Zac Brown Band, and others) in 2016, which ultimately sparked him to move to Nashville to pursue his own career singing and writing country music.
Influenced heavily by the depth and honesty of the greats, Willdee conveys simple truths through dynamics in his music and writing. His voice and lyrics, echoing from the golden age of country music, are often compared to Johnny Paycheck and Waylon Jennings, writing from the depths of his soul about life’s trials and tribulations––bearing the good, bad, and ugly through stories and songs that gain deeper meaning with each listen.
Willdee says, “I write and perform my music to help myself mentally––as a form of therapy, you could say––and hope that I can help someone relate and know there’s someone else out there sharing their experience.”
It’s not uncommon to see members of the audience singing along to Willdee’s songs at his shows––and they haven’t even been released yet! The slow rollin’ rambler has been captivating audiences for over a decade and shows no signs of putting the breaks on now. Finally laying his fans’ favorites down, Willdee will release his debut singles, “Take the Sign'' (June 9), “Lately” (July 7), and “Shadow Riders” Fall of 2021, with his first album dropping later this fall. Listeners can look forward to tracks layered with the talents of musicians like Adam Duran of Kelsey Waldon’s band (electric and acoustic guitar), American Aquarium’s Neil Jones (pedal steel), Nashville local legend and country singer Tim Bolo (bass), Lucy Cochran (fiddle, backup vocals,) and Chris Weisbecker (drums, producer, and engineer) as well as his own. The multi-talented musician plays guitar, mandolin, bass, and harmonica as well. When he’s not playing the iconic American Legion Post 82 or Dee’s Country Lounge, you’ll find Willdee cooking, gardening, or exploring the great outdoors of Tennessee.