Wylie Gustafson is a native Montanan singer/songwriter who lives the songs he writes. With 3 decades of writing, recording and performing under his belt, Wylie has matured into a dynamic talent, and has become one of the few authentic voices of the West. One critic called him, “…the coolest cowpoke around. Forget everything you hate about modern country, this guy is old-school cool without being a tired period piece”. His friendly demeanor is born from his unpretentious life as a working class cow-horseman on the remote rangelands of the American high-plains.
Despite his successful career in music and yodeling, when not touring he still gets up every day and tends to the livestock on his Quarter Horse ranch near the town of Conrad, Montana. It grounds him and is the backbone of his art. The secret of Wylie’s honest, uplifting and soulful music isn’t in any musical formula or flashy gimmick. Its purity lies in Wylie’s character: earnest and hard-working, beaming with friendly vigor, topped off with a smile as welcoming as the Big Sky sunshine.
Like Delta Blues and Bluegrass; Cowboy music comes from a real place in America that often gets overlooked by the corporate music machine. Its depth, breadth, emotion and rhythms are what inspire listeners to seek what has been missing in the industrial push for the lowest-common-denominator styles of song.
For over the last 25 years, Wylie and his band, The Wild West, have performed their refreshing blend of cowboy, swing, folk and yodeling music worldwide. They are hugely popular on the festival and theatre circuit. Stateside, they have performed at such prestigious venues as the National Folk Festival, MerleFest, the Bumbershoot Festival, The Stagecoach Festival, A Prairie Home Companion, The Conan O’Brien Show and the Grand Ole Opry (with over 50 guest appearances). Worldwide, their genre friendly performances have taken them to Russia, Australia, Europe, South America, and Japan. That is not the resume of a mediocre performer!
Wylie’s dynamic stage presence keeps getting him invited back to venues year after year. As a seasoned singer/songwriter with over a dozen nationally distributed albums under his belt, Wylie has etched his presence onto the American music scene. His voice echoed in millions of homes as the prominent yodel in the successful Yahoo! Advertising campaign with his trademark “Ya-hooo-ooo!” His top selling book “How to Yodel- Lessons to Tickle Your Tonsils” is the number one selling book of its genre. Wylie has become a nationally renowned voice-over artist for the advertising, movie and TV world.
When asked to define his music, Wylie explains, “We are a good-time cowboy band that hates to be boring! The band members, Rick, Sam and Shane, are among the best players in their field. The fans appreciate their approachability and loyalty to the genre.”
Wylie is an American Original. His music has been baptized with a hardy dose of trail dust and cow hair. As an accomplished cutting horse enthusiast, Wylie has claimed several hard won regional and national titles within the National Cutting Horse Association astride his super-horse, “Whiskey”. That shiny belt buckle he wears wasn’t won on eBay.
In 2008, with guitar in hand and standing in the saddle atop his horse, Wylie appeared on the cover of Western Horseman magazine. “Western Horseman is the Rolling Stone Magazine of the horseman world,” laughs the lanky cowboy. For Wylie, his western lifestyle and the recording studio are inseparable. “The connection between my cowboy life and my music is extremely close,” he says. “I believe in creating a song that inspires the listener, either lyrically, melodically, or emotionally. It is also important that every so often, I offer something to the genre that helps it gracefully evolve into something new and interesting to the younger fans.
“Obviously Wylie makes phenomenal music,” says Minnesota State Fair Director Chris Tahti. “But he’s not just a good recording artist; he’s a great performing artist. People plan to be here to see him. The best part of his performance is the reactions of people who don’t know who he is. They walk by, and he pulls them into the seats. He’s a magnet,” Tahti beams. “Not only does he draw a crowd, he keeps them there.”