Wilder started early. He could whistle before he could talk, causing his mother much alarm suspecting an intruder, only to find her little dumpling with lips pursed and chirping. His dad played a tenor guitar, singing old numbers like Scotch and Soda, Your Cheatin Heart, and Are You Lonesome Tonight. Wilder is a lefty so he played dad’s tenor upside down. At the age of 11, his friend Ed Whalen instructed him to get a bass. The cool instruments were already taken. From there, they played in bands together for many years. His wacky stage persona came in handy in his mid 20’s with old friends in the wonderfully strange Ashtray. He loved his role as homespun bass wielder but continued to grow more enamored with writing introspective, lonesome tunes on the tenor. On a drive to a family camping trip in the Smokies, his mother put on Lucinda Williams’ “Metal Firecracker”. Wilder describes this as the moment. “I had been floundering for so many years. Enjoyably, but floundering. When I heard that song, it just spun me and made me realize that what I had been privately writing was what I needed to cultivate.”

It would still be 5 years before he would release his first album. He moved around, did some cooking from the hills of Georgia to Martha’s Vineyard. He ended up landing a job at James Taylor’s brother Hugh’s Outermost Inn. Upon hearing the demos, Hugh implored Wilder to “get back south and make a damn record!” His debut, Your Sweet Heart, came out shortly thereafter. His second, Wilder Embry’s Squander, followed in ‘08. In ‘09, longtime friend and musical genius, John Lancaster, lured him from his native Gainesville, GA to Nashville to record his next installment. John gathered up a healthy lineup and in three magical days, what Wilder thought would be a little bitty folk record, became a behemoth. The Bottle was born.

Having finally made the move to Nashville, Wilder was quickly surrounded by some of the finest musicians in the world. “It was both a blessing and a curse to’ve come to a tough town like Nashville and immediately have such amazing folks aboard. I feel like now, after 7 years in Nashville, I didn’t really know how good I had it. I’ve, as usual, done things in a backwards sort of way.” In 2014, widely loved and acclaimed producer Roger Moutenot opened his door and heart to Wilder and his fourth album, Smolderoldingpictureaid, was made. Critics choices and great reviews followed, as well as spots on Lightning 100 and regular airplay. These days, it’s on to the next one, as well as being a father of two and a husband to one.

On his place in the musical landscape of today, Wilder said this: “Making it in music is a SOB. Making music is an honor. The people I listen to and admire, folks like Slaid Cleaves, Ron Sexsmith, David Bazan- they heed a different call. We’d all like to see more fruition, be it money or press or whatever. The fact is, these kinds of artists continue to make absolutely stunning music. There’s nothing greater than that to me. I just try to do my part, albeit in their sizable shadows.”

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