Photo courtesy of B! Noticed Public Relations
Dave Wilbert is not your usual up-and-coming country artist. He’s not new to the scene, he’s not just starting out, he’s not young, he is not even interested in being famous. but he is talented and ready. Dave first started his music career back in the 1990s. Dave had his career rolling, but put it all on hold to focus on his family after his marriage had dissolved. Dave headed on a different path, one that took him away from music. This allowed him to spend time with his three kids. Dave coached his kids baseball teams, saw them off for prom and was an active part of their lives. Dave would not change a thing. His kids are grown and it’s time for him to re-enter the music scene of which he brings a whole new outlook with him this time around.
Dave Wilbert’s current release. “It’s All Yours,” tells the story of a newly divorced man and all that was taken from him by his newly minted ex-wife. From the ring, to the house to his heart. “It’s All Yours” is not Dave’s personal story, but this one will resonate with many men and women. The song was written by Phil O’Donnell, Kendell Marvel and Noah Gordon and was produced by Kerry Kurt Phillips for Kerry Kurt Phillips Productions.
Think Country is proud to partner with Dave and debut his video for “It’s All Yours’.” We will air it on http://thinkcountrymusic.com at 12 noon Central Time on Thursday, May 13th. Check out Think Country’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThinkCountryMusic to enter to win handwritten lyrics by Dave Wilbert of “It’s All Yours.”
Dave and I had a “sit down” to catch up on what Dave has been up to, his new single, and what is ahead. Here is our conversation:
CN: Hi Dave, Thank you for taking your time to talk with me. We also thank you for having Think Country debut your new video for “It’s All Yours.” We are really excited and there has been a lot of buzz around it.
DW: Thank you for having me and thank you for giving me the outlet for the video. I am looking forward to it.
CN: Dave let’s get caught up. Fill us in, give us some background on where you’re from and where you are now. Let’s check in on what you have been up to since your first entrance on the country music scene.
DW: Sure, I grew up in a little town called North Vernon in Indiana. A total farm town. If you saw the movie Hoosiers you have seen my town. It was a great place to grow up. It’s about 15 minutes from where John Mellencamp grew up and sang about. I have three brothers, my parents were both teachers. It was a small town and I didn’t know there was a world beyond Jennings County to be honest. It was a great place to grow up. A lot of farming, It was literally that small town that John Mellencamp sang about.
CN: It sounds like a great place to grow up. Was John Mellencamp popular at the time you were going up?
DW: I was probably in elementary school when his song “Ain’t Even Done With the Night” was on the radio. I remember it vividly and everything that followed for him. I did a cover of that song every now and then.
CN: Was John Mellencamp an inspiration for you to lean towards music, where did your interest in music come from?
DW: You know what, music has always been a part of me, I can’t ever remember not being musical. I can remember my first musical memory. When I was a little bitty fella I went to the First United Methodist Church in North Vernon. My older brothers were part of the “God Squad”. They would get up and sing these choral arrangements in church. There was an older guy who was a big boy, and his nickname was Moose. They called him that because he was a big fella. This guy was rockin’ beards before it was cool and before the hipsters were rockin’ them. He had a big old deep, just killer voice, and I remember thinking, “That’s what I want to do.” The church leader and choir instructor also had a huge impact on my life. All through elementary school he was teaching choir. For four years I had him as my music and choir instructor. He believed in me, he told me that I had talent and that God had given me a decent amount of talent. Mellencamp also for sure had an influence on me. I grew up in a musical household. My parents had a very eclectic music collection from Alabama and Kenny Rogers to James Taylor, and my brothers and I listened to Van Halen and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
CN: Do you still see Moose, does he know what a musical impact he had on you?
DW: (Laughing), I don’t see him as he was older than me, he was 18, I was probably three or four. I have no idea of where he is now, I hope he’s still alive and belting it out.
CN: (Laughing) I think you should have t-shirts made that say, “Where’s Moose?” and make it part of your tour gear.
DW: (Laughing) Ha, I can add it to my swag, “Where is The Moose?”
CN: How did you meet Kerry Kurt Phillips and end up in Nashville?
DW: I was brought to town by a Country Music Hall of Fame-nominated writer named Kerry Kurt Phillips. He had seen me playing in southern Indiana and he approached me and said come down to Nashville. At the time, he had written all the singles for (Joe) Diffie’s Honky Tonk Attitude and was a co-writer on “Pickup Man,” just to name two. He wrote the big old smash “Down on the Farm” for Tim McGraw. He brought me down and started taking me to the studios and I began to learn how things happened behind the curtain. I didn’t move down there right away. I eventually moved down to Nashville and got married. It’s a 10-year town, you know it takes 10-years to become an overnight success. I doubled that. It’s going to take me two times that, 20 years (Laughing).
What happened was, I was all consumed with music at that time in my life, and I wasn’t the best husband or best father. It was kind of selfish. Because of that my first marriage dissolved. My priorities had shifted. The Good Lord shook me and got my priorities right. What happened eventually was that I got custody of my kids. I raised the kids and everything became survival. It wasn’t about playing music it was more about, “Okay, I have like ten dollars to my name and how am I going to provide for these kids?” I am no different from other people, I have lived it. That’s what I did. Then I met the most beautiful and wonderful person. She stepped into my life when I couldn’t get any lower. it was a God thing and it saved my life. She shouldered most of the load, and six years ago we got married. We got three kids raised up. Two are off to college and my son is graduating in a few weeks and he’s going into the United States Army, he is enlisted. Now here I am, it’s come full circle, I have the time now.
I have a much greater perspective of what really matters. It’s not about fame and fortune, what really matters is my family, friends and faith. I also just want to make good music, I want to write good music, make good music, record good music. It’s kind of weird that it’s come full circle. I didn’t miss out on anything. That’s the biggest blessing. I have seen what other artists have given up to pursue their dreams. They have missed out on plays, ball games, dance recitals. I didn’t miss out on anything. I got to be the coach, I got to be the biggest cheerleader. I got to be the annoying father in the stands. I wouldn’t trade anything for that. There is no amount of fame and fortune or success that I would exchange. To me, that’s what matters. Now that they are self-sufficient, I am young enough to go get it done.
CN: It sounds like your moment has come. You can be focused, all-in and 100%. It sounds like you played the cards right.
DW: I don’t think I played the cards right, I think the Lord shuffled the deck. That’s what I think. I don’t think anything works out of his jurisdiction. I was so far away from my priorities that He needed to jerk me a little. I’m glad, and hindsight being what it is, I’m excited. I think from a timing perspective, what mattered the most then was them. Now I feel I can breathe easy and know that they are self-sufficient. They are highly-competent people, despite their father (laughing).
CN: Dave, I hear two songs that you need to do now, one is for your wife and the other for your kids. Do you have anything coming up for these amazing people?
DW: I do have titles stirring around in my mind. I need to get with my song writing buddies. I need to have them help me. I don’t want to short change the songs. I want to write something that’s moving and powerful. I have one in my mind that’s going to be a power ballad.
CN: You have an impressive and great team that you are working with for “It’s All Yours.”
DW: I think so. You know, it takes a lot of spokes to make the wheel go round. It’s funny, I was having that conversation today with some of my teammates. We just added some more people who are specialists at what they do, and you know the best thing is a big large community of people that it takes to make this thing go. I wish it was just about singing and playing music, but there is so much more to it
CN: Now that you are back in it, are you finding a lot of changes in the industry, like with Facebook, TikTok, Instagram?
DW: Yeah, I remember when a new record would come out, I would go down to the record shop. I may not have had enough money to buy it, but I would look at the album and read all the credits. There was a kind of mystique to the artist. That was how you got the first look at them was an album cover, before you could see them live or on a TV program. Back then you didn’t see every little thing all the time. To me, I am reluctant to do it, it seems like I’m trying to sell something. For me, that is a total change. It’s changed drastically. Back then, publicists and the record label would bill you as the next best thing, and until you saw them live you wouldn’t know.
On a positive thing, there is a lot more autonomy now for artists like myself, where I have a lot more control. The buck stops with me. I try not to make every decision, because I want to focus on the writing and singing. That’s what I really want to do, I don’t want to make decisions over websites and fonts. I like the amount of control that I have. The nice thing is back then I put out songs and I held on to the masters as part of the deal. I am now going back into them and breathing new life into them. It’s been an incredibly fun and rewarding process.
CN: Have you been game-planning in your head all your steps of what you are going to do getting back into the music scene?
DW: I learned mostly by hands-on. When we released “Country Cruise,” We released it in the middle of the summer, we just didn’t know that you don’t release a song in the middle of the summer. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. We learned and we adapted, we changed distributing companies and moved to one that is the new gold standard. We brought on new people who have knowledge that we do not possess. I am trusting them, we have a plan. Our single is at 48 right now, we gained 11 spots in 2 weeks. We have another single that will come out behind “It’s All Yours.” The songs that will follow this will start to build a repertoire of solid songs. We are doing things that maybe an independent act has not done yet. We are getting picked up on other tours with other artists. I just want to play music, I want to play somewhere where people want to hear me sing.
CN: What do you have lined up, what do we have to look forward to?
DW: Two big things that I want to share with you. The video that you are debuting on Thursday, May 13th.
CN: We are very excited to be premiering the video for “It’s All Yours!”
DW: It’s awesome that you are, you guys are phenomenal, that’s the super big deal . My other big news is, on Thursday, May 20th, I am doing a live show that is free for all the fan club members.
CN: The Wilbilly Nation!
DW: Yes, Wilbilly Nation! The fan club members log in, click on the link, and put in your email and zip code and we will shoot them a link so they can watch the live show. We will also have a discount code if they want to buy a shirt or a hat. We’re trying to do what the big labels do, but we’re doing ourselves.
CN: What a great way to spend the night listening to live music.
DW: Yeah, it’s going to be fun, it’s free, it’s an hour, it’s 7:00 PM Central Time, 8:00 PM Eastern Time, May 20th. I will probably play about 15 songs, I do know what the next single is and we will play it. People can go to http://davewilbertmusic.com and sign up. Wilbilly Nation is more of a friends club than a fan club. I am really interested in making friends across the country and the world. I want to get to a point that if I am touring and I get a flat tire, I can call a Wilbilly member and say, “Hey, I’m down the street,” for them to come help me out (laughing). It’s going to be a fun night. I don’t feel the stress I felt years ago. I can now play the music I want to play, for the people who want to hear real country music.
CN: I was thinking about “It’s All Yours” and a really good triple-play for it. I was thinking Travis Denning’s “ABBY” to “It’s All Yours”, to Luke Combs’ “When it Rains it Pours”. Have you had any thoughts about songs you would like to have played with “It’s All Yours”?
DW: I love these three together, that’s very slick. I have a song in the works that is a monster song. It’s that big. It’s more of a ballad. It’s one of those songs. Unfortunately it’s the same theme of a marriage falling apart. So when you say, “What you would pair it up with?,” I have the perfect song. It’s in the same vein, it is so realistic and raw. I experienced it personally. I have a song to pair it up with but it’s kind of a secret right now.
CN: You are killing me with suspense, but that gives us something to look forward to. When it comes to writing about the same song theme, I do the same thing, my song concepts always seem to involve being at a funeral. (laughing)
CN: I will wrap it up with what I call, “one grab”. Here is the scenario, you have to get out of your house, you, your family and pets are all safe. You can run into your house to grab one item. What do you grab?
DW: I would grab the Yeti cooler that my son got me last year for Father’s Day. It’s a big Yeti that looks like a Miller Lite can, but it says “Dad, The World’s Finest Father”. It means a lot to me.
CN: We are looking forward to the video premiere, as well as the live stream Wednesday evening! This has been a lot of fun. Thank you for your time Dave.
DW: Thank you for premiering the video and taking your time. I’m just trying to make friends, I can’t sing rock and roll or the blues, I was made to sing country music. I love it and I’m going to be singing and playing it as long as I can. Come out May 20th for the free fan club live stream. In general, I am fully aware that people can do anything with their hard-earned money and free time, and I want to earn their time and their friendship and fanship. Thank you again Catherine, I will hopefully some day meet you when I am on the road in your neck of the woods.
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