On Thursday, Feb. 13, the country sounds of Craig Morgan will fill the confines of the Saenger Theatre. Before Morgan takes the stage, one of the Gulf Coast’s most beloved country singers will be returning to the Azalea City to lend support.

Wes Loper has been paying his dues in Nashville. The country crooner made the active decision to leave the Gulf Coast in order to find new challenges and new opportunities. His first challenge was the actual transition from the Gulf Coast to Music City.

“Once we started getting the ball rolling, it took up a lot of my time that I wasn’t actually gigging,” Loper said. “I didn’t have time to work on the business side of being up here, as far as booking gigs up here.”

Loper met this challenge with a savvy attitude. While his schedule during this transition time lacked Nashville gigs, it was still full of gigs along the Gulf Coast. Loper continued to perform in the area throughout the summer and optioned to live out of an RV. This turned out to be a smooth business move that he will revisit in the future. Summertime is a slow season for music in Nashville. While his cohorts in Music City were trying desperately to find work, Loper kept a full schedule.

“Having that little chunk of gigs and a network of clients down there really kinda helped,” Loper said. “What we realized at the end of the summer is that we’ll probably do that every summer. Once the kids are out of school, we’ll just go down there in the RV and camp-out and visit with family and make as much money as we can, until another opportunity presents itself.”

Wes Loper

Wes Loper

Loper is a rare commodity in Nashville. Many would-be country artists journey to Nashville with dreams of hitting it big on Music Row. These same hopefuls quickly learn that Nashville can be a cutthroat town when it comes to country. Loper would agree. He explained that “downtown” gigs are hard to find and offer little financial compensation. Loper came to Nashville with a touring circuit already established. If there is not work in Nashville, then he has an extensive list of Southeastern venues he frequents.

“One of the things my partners up here said — and appreciates about me — is that I make a living at it, and they said to not stop making a living at it and provide for your family,” said Loper. “You make money however you can make it.”

While Loper may not be performing regularly in Nashville just yet, he does stay busy co-writing songs with whomever he can find. He has been working quite a bit with Jim McCormick (Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan) and Dan Couch (Kip Moore). Loper is also busy trying to find a support spot on a tour, which is one of the reasons he made the move. Otherwise, Loper is excited for any chance that he gets to play for his Gulf Coast fans, and his move to Nashville has even made that experience different.

“I knew that I would always come back and do gigs,” Loper said. “I didn’t realize that when I did come back that I didn’t have any grass to cut or other house chores. During the day, I can do some sailing and kite-boarding.”