Fans of acoustic guitar music should be well acquainted with the name of Wyatt Rice. Wyatt was first spotlighted as an original member of the Tony Rice Unit where he played primarily rhythm guitar, although he had many opportunities for soloing as well. Wyatt has been featured on numerous recordings, videos, and has played countless gigs with the the Tony Rice Unit. He played lead and rhythm guitar with his own band “Wyatt Rice &Santa Cruz” and with The Ronnie Bowman Committee. Wyatt has recorded or performed with players such as David Grisman, JD Crowe, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Dan Tyminski, Alison Krauss, Bela Fleck, Rickie Simpkins, Ronnie Bowman, Lee Ann Womack, The Lonesome River Band, Sierra Hull, Ricky Skaggs, as well as his brothers Larry, Tony and Ronnie. Wyatt has recorded “Advanced Bluegrass Rhythm Guitar” (DVD) with Flatpicking Guitar Magazine and been featured on several of their special compilation CD’s.
Wyatt Rice was born in Long Beach California in 1965 but due to the need to move with the job, the Rice family was all over the country from Florida to California to Texas to Virginia, North Carolina, and places in between. Several members of the family played instruments and it was natural for the Rice brothers themselves to start playing. Thus, Wyatt found himself with a guitar in hand by age 6, playing “Little Brown Jug”. Although he kept up with guitar during his school years, Wyatt’s musical training included stints on alto saxophone, bassoon, and bass in the school marching band. By 10th grade, though, his attention was becoming firmly directed toward acoustic guitar, encouraged by older brother Tony’s developments in jazz-oriented Dawg and New Acoustic Music. When Tony recorded his landmark “Church Street Blues”
album, consisting of just voice and guitar, he flew Wyatt out to California to record a couple of tracks with him. From there on, Wyatt’s goal was to play guitar with Tony and, at age 17, he got his wish, moving from Florida to California to play on the “Backwaters” album.
When the Tony Rice Unit came together in 1984, it featured Wyatt Rice on rhythm guitar. That band made an indelible footprint in the world of acoustic music, giving Wyatt world-wide exposure as a rhythm and lead guitarist. During this time, Wyatt participated in numerous side projects, including recording his own CD for Rounder Records “New Market Gap” , as well as two projects with his brothers "The Rice Brothers". He toured and recorded on many projects with oldest brother Larry that also included a CD that's now out on Pinecatsle Records" Larry and Wyatt Rice"
The Tony Rice Unit took a short break in the mid- 90’s and Wyatt took the opportunity to develop some more of his own ideas. Wyatt formed a new band called "Wyatt Rice & Santa Cruz". They toured and recorded a classic bluegrass CD for Rounder Records called "Picture In A Tear". Shortly after, Wyatt started working particularly with Flatpicking Guitar Magazine on several projects. These include a DVD on “Advanced Bluegrass Rhythm Guitar”, a concert DVD with Kenny Smith and David Grier, and several appearances on special compilation CD’s. Wyatt then went on to record and produce a Christmas CD with long time friend, Rickie Simpkins "Acoustic Christmas". Wyatt and Rickie then continued to record and produce several projects including 3 projects for CMH Records "Pickin On Series" (Martina McBride, Vince Gill, and Van Zant)
When Ronnie Bowman, formerly of the Lonesome River Band, formed his own band- the Ronnie Bowman Committee- Wyatt was on-board, while also playing shows with the coming-out-of-hiatus Tony Rice Unit. And finally, Wyatt has been a featured instructor at Kaufman Kamp, Fur Peace Ranch, Roanoke Bluegrass Weekend, and Rocky Grass Academy.
Wyatt's brother Ronnie is not only a accomplished Bassist, but a mastering engineer for Time Life Records, and has a mastering lab "Rice Mastering". Wyatt and Ronnie work together as a team that has produced many master recordings by highly acclaimed artist, and record labels such as Rounder, Rebel, CMH and many others.
Today, Wyatt works with a varied palette that includes teaching, recording, and producing well known artist in his own studio "Rice Recording". He continues to peform with the Tony Rice Unit.
As of latley, Wyatt currently teaches at East Tennessee State University.