Legendary Country Guitarist Steve Wariner
Talks to Rocking God’s House!
Four time Grammy Award-winner and Grand Ole Opry member Steve Wariner is the nicest person I’ve ever interviewed. Steve has had top ten hits such as “Holes in the Floor of Heaven,” “Two Teardrops,” “I’m Already Taken,” but not only is the man one of the most accomplished singer-songwriter-guitar players in the history of country music, but he is genuine, and he talks to you as if he were a dear friend catching up with you. God made Steve Wariner very special, and in return, Steve has never squandered his talents: he plays numerous charities and lends his talents whenever possible, and he also keeps playing amazing shows for his fans.
In a few days, in fact, he is playing in Nashville, and it’s a little different than what country fans are accustomed to: on Wednesday, June 18th, Steve will perform an intimate show at The Listening Room Café right in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee at 8:30pm.
It’s always a thrill to talk with someone you’ve idolized for years, and I had the great privilege of chatting with one of the greatest guitarists in country music history:
What made you decide to have a performance like this one at the Listening Room Cafe?
I always loved it when Chet Atkins performed his series of shows at Café Milano back in the ‘90s, and for a long time I’ve thought it would be fun to do something like that. [Steve spent several years performing in Atkins’s band before launching his own solo career] Chet could have easily played in any arena around town, but instead he wanted to be somewhere cozy and comfortable where the locals and tourists alike could see him perform whatever he felt like doing. That’s the approach I’m taking with this show as well — I’m going to have fun and just let the night dictate what I perform. Of course, I’ll do some of my hits, but I love the thought of just coming out on stage, picking up my guitar, and playing whatever comes to mind. I’m still deciding if it will be me and the band, me solo and acoustic, or me and a few players. Who knows? If it’s as much fun as I think it will be, I might decide to do this more often.
Will you allow audience members to request songs for you to perform if they shout them out?
You know that is a good idea, I had never thought about that. But heck I am going to consider that because that is a pretty cool idea. Chet Atkins used to do that, and he would also have people come out — a lot of his friends, of course. I would go out there a lot and get up there and sing with him or whatever so there might be a lot of that going on too. You never know as this unfolds, you know, this first one may be a more checking the temperature type thing to see how it goes.
Do you feel the smaller venue causes you to have a different approach?
This gives me a chance to, I think. It will be a lot different than on the road in that I will come out and maybe play a bunch of songs by myself and go through some of my older hits, maybe some of the stuff that my hardcore long-time fans might want to hear on acoustic guitar, and then I might switch to my gretsch guitar and play a little bit of Chet Atkins — do a few songs for the guitar fans — and then maybe switch to my classic electric. I play a few things on that. I will have a lot of guitars there, and then wind up getting some of my band guys up, and I have a couple of friends who might come out and sit in with me too, so that will give me a chance to do some stuff that I don’t do or you won’t see me do on the road.
Do you think you will perform the theme to Who’s The Boss at this show?
[laughs] You know, that is funny you say that because I did it a few years ago. I was doing it in my shows, I was doing it as a joke and saying, “Hey this is my biggest hit.” Then we kind of quit doing it because we did it so much. Every once in a while I will do it just for fun, and say as a joke: “You may or may not know it but I came into your living room every week for six or seven years whatever it was, and this was my biggest hit.” So yeah we will probably do it. A lot people say, “You know I didn’t know he did that.” A few years ago when George W. Bush was in office, Vice President Cheney asked me to come up and play at a dinner he was having for all senators and congressman; the whole crowd was Republican Senators and their wives at Vice President Cheney’s home. It was only about 30 people having dinner and Vice President Cheney got up and asked me to play some songs, and there was a piano sitting there, and so I sat on a stool next to it and played acoustic guitar and a bunch of songs as they were finishing dinner. The whole audience was everybody that you would know — their faces — you had seen them all on TV: high visibility people. So I was doing my songs and it was going over well, and when I did Who’s the Boss that night the place went crazy! That is what they liked more than anything; I had all these Senators coming up to me afterwards saying, “Hey, I didn’t know you did that.” That was the one they were more impressed with. [laughs]
Speaking of songs, does your song “Holes in the Floor of Heaven” still have the same effect on audiences as it did when it first came out?
Yeah, it really does. For me personally, it does even more because about a year ago I lost my mom, and especially a couple of lines in there, but I know that Mom is watching now, a couple of lines in there kind of move me in a different way then they used to even when I wrote it. I think it still has an impact on the audience — certainly the same. I watch out there while I am singing it and there always a couple of people out there who you can see them holding back or pushing back a tear. It still goes over and still has an impact I think. It amazes me still the power of song and lyrics; I am grateful for that song. I wrote that song with my friend Billy Kirsch.
There are a bunch out there, and there are some good ones. I don’t really know Hunter Hayes, but I know he plays great. I hear about him, and I am anxious to play with him. He is one of those guys that fits the mold like me as far as how he plays and sings and writes. I was always drawn to Jerry Reed, Glen Campbell, Roy Clark, the guys that played, sang, wrote, did it all — the guitar slinger guys — and so I know Hunter does that; and there is also an Australian guy Jedd Hughes who is awesome. I really like him, he plays great! Of course, Brad Paisley and Keith Urban, that’s a given — I like all those guitar guys.
I recently read that you have some of your songs cut by Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver and The Del McCoury band; do you have a lot of experience with bluegrass music?
I was raised in bluegrass. My dad still loves bluegrass; he is 85. When I was a kid, I would listen to my country records, my dad would have a stack of country records, and he would always have bluegrass records as well. Being from Kentucky, I think it is a law there. [laughs] You must love bluegrass if you are from Kentucky. I always loved it, and my dad did too, he always knew a lot about it and kept up with it. But I am really knocked out with the Doyle Lawson cut, and The Del McCoury Boys is great; they are all awesome and they killed it — heck, I love that bluegrass stuff! Through the years I have had several cuts and have been fortunate. I think the best musicians come out of the bluegrass music genre.
Would you ever consider coming down to my neck of the woods in Columbia, TN and breaking in the stage at Puckett’s on the square?
I am going to consider it. Since you said that, I am going to consider it. If this Listening Room cage show goes well then hopefully it will open more doors for maybe us to be able to do some more of these kind of shows. I will definitely put that on my map here and on my radar screen [laughs]. I would love to come down there. I haven’t played Columbia in years and that would be really fun. I will have to persuade you to come down and hang out with us when we do.