IOP resident Wyatt Durrette has written mega-hits such as ‘Colder Weather’ with Levi Lowrey for Zac Brown Band | Photos by Joy Neville

There is usually a point in a typical Yesterday’s Wine show that we’ll call, for lack of a better term, a WTF moment. A moment when the audience realizes that the country music duo in front of them, Levi Lowrey and Wyatt Durrette, is responsible for some of the biggest country hits of the last couple of decades. 

As songwriters, Lowrey and Durrette have no less than 15 No. 1 country hits between them, mostly for the Zac Brown Band. Between the two of them, Lowrey and Durrette wrote “Chicken Fried,” “Toes,” “Highway 20 Ride,” “Colder Weather” and “Knee Deep” with Zac Brown. Durrette has also scored huge hits with Luke Combs, co-writing “Beautiful Crazy” and “Even Though I’m Leaving.” 

So when they whip out those songs during a Yesterday’s Wine set, their audiences are often surprised and delighted.

“That’s one of my favorite parts,” Durrette said. “A lot of people don’t realize that there’s another guy that actually lived that song. To catch it from the horse’s mouth can be special for people. There’s more of a degree of connection.”

Photo by Brooke Stevens

Durrette and Lowrey have actually been writing together for more than a decade, both with and without Brown, and Durrette said there was an immediate chemistry between the two, both as friends and collaborators.

“We all kind of cut our teeth in Atlanta and got to know each other, and him and I became good friends and stayed writing together through that whole process,” he said. “We’ve written hundreds of songs with each other. As friends, there are a lot of common interests. As for the songwriting thing, we’re cut from the same cloth. We’ve got a lot of patience for it; a lot of reverence for the gift we were given and paying attention to it. Trying to get the song right is the most important thing to us.”

In fact, Durrette said that he never considered himself a performer until recently.

“We’re songwriters first,” he said. “Songwriting — it’s always been my first love. I started doing the onstage thing full time only in the past few years. Levi’s always done both, but I’m sure he would say it’s the song, too. You don’t have anything if you don’t have that. I feel like I’ve put in 10,000 hours when it comes to songwriting, so that will always be my first and forever love.”

But the music industry has been through some changes over the last few years that made both Durrette and Lowry start looking beyond songwriting.

“A lot of it was the whole streaming thing,” he said. “It’s kind of a scary thing for songwriters, not getting paid the money that they deserve. I’ve been really lucky to have success on terrestrial radio, but finding other ways to generate revenue was one of the reasons.”

But Durrette found a new life as a performer, regardless of the reasons he started.

“I really have found a different kind of release onstage,” he said. “You get to recreate the song in a way. I love the release that it gives me.”

The duo formed unofficially a few years ago when the two men started playing informal, “writer-in-the-round” style shows.

“I’m normally pretty nervous up there, but I was pretty comfortable with him,” Durrette said “We started having some fun and decided we should name it, and kept having fun and decided to make an EP.”

As you might have guessed, “fun” is the operative word for both men.

“That’s our only rule,” Durrette said. “We’ve both been doing this for a long time and been away from our families enough. So let’s do this until it’s not fun. When it’s not fun for either of us, we’ll stop.”

Of course, having fun as Yesterday’s Wine is a lot easier when both members have lucrative songwriting careers.

 “I feel incredibly blessed for that,” Durrette said. “It’s so much fun, and I love it, but it takes a lot of weight off our backs that it’s not something we have to do to make ends meet. It’s a passion.”

A typical Yesterday’s Wine show features some of the hits that put both men on the map, some personal favorites, some tracks from their 2019 self-titled EP, and some songs that, one way or another, might end up on the radio someday.

“We’re doing this to release a glorified demo album for bigger country artists to cut the songs,” Durrette said, “but also more importantly for people to hear the music.”

Yesterday’s Wine w/ Faith Schuler. 5 p.m. Aug. 13. $10. Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina. Mount Pleasant.
(843) 856-0028.

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