PACE — Sandy Wyatt developed his love for music from going to church in Cobbtown, a suburb of Jay, Wyatt said with a smile.
Wyatt was born and raised there, and for the exception of touring with bands, the 67-year-old has never left.
"Church was the first place I heard live music, and I got to sing with the congregation," Wyatt said. "I fell in love with music."
Once he showed interest in music, the musicians at the church started to teach him how to play and sing.
"The old guys would help the young guys, that's just how it worked back then," Wyatt said.
Wyatt is best known for his steel guitar talent.
Around the age of 22, Wyatt decided to make a career out of music. He started playing and touring with bands. Wyatt said he worked the six days a week for 17 years playing on the road. Eventually, he grew tired of playing in bars and dives that crossed the boundaries of being rowdy.
He said he needed a break from that life. His solution was to come back home and work on the family farm in Allentown. He quit playing music for five years.
"I’ve loved it (music) all my life," Wyatt said.
He still wanted to play, but in a different atmosphere. He and his son Jeremy came back home and in 2001 started building the Farmer's Opry House in Chumuckla.
The building looked like a large dance hall with stage, live music, tables and chairs and food. The only thing missing was the alcohol, and that was perfect for Wyatt. His dream of a family-oriented music venue was completed.
Wyatt came back to music as the bandleader for the Sawmill Band, the house band. The Farmer's Opry House would open every Friday and Saturday.
The 67-year-old is now in his 45th year of his musical journey and still plays on occasion. Wyatt also owns Southland Builders Inc., which is currently constructing the new L.E.A.D. school campus on Joppa Road.
Wyatt's name and reputation on the steel guitar is well known in country music. However, his best contribution, according up-and-coming local country artists Brooke Woods and Chloe Channell, is his mentoring.
"He taught me to play the fiddle," said Woods, who just released a new single entitled "Ain't Kissing Nobody." "He also taught me about stage presence, how to interact with the audience, how to perform.
"He's my mentor. He taught me to play guitar and to perform on stage," added Chloe Channell in a recent interview.
Channell, from Pace, was recently featured on "America's Got Talent" and "American Idol."
"I showed her a couple of things," Wyatt said about Channell.
The Sawmill Band plays four fundraising concerts a year at the Living Truth Church that opened in 2012. And they play at Kooter Browns in Jay every other Thursday.