Since he was a young boy growing up in Sandpoint, music has been a big part of Devon Wade’s life. Now, at the age of 41, his passion for music is taking him to places he never imagined.
Devon’s dad was a drummer in a band, so it was natural that was the first instrument Devon played. But he longed to play guitar, so he saved his money, and at the age of 14, purchased his first guitar. “My dad wasn’t too happy, but it was my money so there was not much he could say,” says Devon. It was the beginning of what he hopes will become a full-time career. He taught himself how to play, watching videos and asking questions to friends who played the instrument.
“While other kids were out having fun and chasing girls, I was inside learning to play guitar,” he says. Ironically, Devon didn’t start out listening to the country music he is associated with today. “Growing up, I never liked country music. My dad would play country music in the car, and I would always ask him to turn it off. I was more of a Guns ‘n Roses kind of guy.”
But when artists such as Clint Black, Garth Brooks and Chris LeDoux came on the scene, Devon said he started to gravitate toward country. He recalls when his sister took him to a country concert that still inspires him today.
“My most memorable concert experience was seeing Chris LeDoux live. I can still hear the crowd, the songs and still remember the way I felt after that concert. I said to myself, ‘That’s what I want to do,’” recalls Devon.
He shares that he especially admired Clint Black, who Devon says wrote all of his own music. Devon would listen to him and try to match his style to Black’s.
Having been in the music industry, Devon’s father tried to steer his son away from it. But when his dad heard his son singing and playing, his talent could not be ignored. “I came home one day from work when I was about 19 years old, and there was a whole sound system set up in the living room,” says Devon.
Originally from Sandpoint, Devon has lived in California, Spokane and Port Angeles, Washington. While in California, he joined a band that played at small venues. He returned to Sandpoint in 2009 and started playing locally on a small scale, such as the Farmers Market. It was also that year when Devon attended the Clint Black concert at the Festival at Sandpoint. “I sang every word to every song,” remembers Devon. Four years later, he took that same stage as the opening act for Roseanne Cash.
“I had played at a private party and some of the people there were on the Festival board,” says Devon. “They helped get me the opening act.”
When asked to describe the music he plays, Devon said he once referred to it as ‘muscle country.’ “It gets people dancing and is strong in the music itself and to the heart.”
Devon’s music is touching many lives, and not just in North Idaho. He played at the Knitting Factory in Spokane, opening for Jerrod Niemann. “Sammy Eubanks had heard of me and was doing a concert at the Knitting Factory,” explains Devon, who attended Eubanks’ concert and was then introduced to the manager of the Knitting Factory who asked him to open for Niemann.
Another opportunity that took Devon by surprise came when he was contacted by the Knitting Factory to see if he would be interested in opening for country music star Kip Moore. Devon told them he was and then waited to hear for confirmation that Moore wanted him as the opening act. “When they finally called back less than a week before the concert, they told me Kip Moore wanted me to open in Spokane but only if I agreed to open for him in Seattle as well,” says Devon.
While playing at the Knitting Factory, Devon has had stars such as Thomas Rhett and Randy Houser in the audience. In fact, when exiting, Randy Houser glanced over at Devon and gave him the thumbs up; encouragement that Devon was grateful to receive.
Seeking to gain all the advice he could from professionals, Devon reached out to country music artist Rodney Atkins by instant messaging him on Facebook. Much to Devon’s surprise, Atkins replied. “He said, ‘Never turn anything down. Play every gig you can. Play anywhere you can.’” Devon took the advice to heart and to this day has yet to turn down a request to play. “One day I played three different shows, and in December I played a total of 21 gigs,” he says.
Devon has written more than 100 of his own songs and is releasing a new CD, titled Game Over, in May. The title song has to do with finding your one true love in life, explains Devon. He will be featuring many of those songs when he hits the road in May for a tour to San Antonio, Dallas and Louisiana.
Most of his live performances are solo, but at times he will have a band along with him. But that has proven to be challenging. “People are moving all the time, and it’s been hard [to keep consistent members],” says Devon.
Performing in front of crowds, seeing people having a good time, dancing and enjoying themselves, is the most rewarding part of sharing his musical talent with others. “Every musician will tell you that is the biggest high,” says Devon, who credits much of his success to MickDuff’s Beer Hall and the former Coldwater Creek Wine Bar in Sandpoint, where he first began performing regularly.
For anyone wanting to pursue a career in music, Devon says it is important to never give up. And any criticism you may receive, do not take it personally. He shared a story of when he was told by someone when he was younger that he would never make it. Recently, that same man told Devon, “You done good.”
Also, take every performance as an opportunity to grow. “There’s something good to take away from each performance,” says Devon.
He says the ultimate compliment is when people say, “I don’t like country music, but I love your music,” something Devon hears at least once a month.
Devon has a bright future ahead of him, and when asked what his ultimate dream is, he replied that he would like to eventually sell his songs. And one other thing … “I would love to open for Clint Black.” Stay tuned. I have a great feeling that this will happen sooner than later!
Devon Wade performs regularly on the first and third Fridays of each month at MickDuff’s Beer Hall on Cedar Street in Downtown Sandpoint. Follow him on Facebook or Instagram for an update on performances in your area and to learn more about his new CD, Game Over, to be released mid-May.