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Steve Wariner Readies His ‘Most Off-the-Wall’ Album

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When fans hear Steve Wariner‘s upcoming album, ‘Guitar Laboratory’ — scheduled to be released in February 2011 — the 15-year Opry member warns, their opinions could go either way.

“It was a lot of fun, but all over the map style-wise,” the guitar legend tells The 9513. “People are either going to think that I’m really cool — or just lost my mind! I haven’t decided yet! [laughs]”

“It’s the most off-the-wall diverse project I’ve ever done,” he explains. “It covers every genre, if you can imagine. It covers everything I love to play. It has chicken picking country, jazz, swing jazz and pop. I even wrote a song with my 23-year-old son that has a French World War II type of tune for it. My older son, Ryan, and I wrote a real rocking Beck-ish type of piece called, ‘Stingray’ that closes the album,” Steve continues. “It’s in-your-face rock ‘n’ roll. it’s fun! We got out the big amplifiers for that one! [laughs]“

This is Steve’s first album in more than a year, the last, ‘My Tribute to Chet Atkins,’ was released in June 2009. For his 19th studio album, Steve pulled in a colorful array of guitar players to splatter his ‘off-the-wall’ project with color and spice.

“It covers a lot of different kinds of styles,” Steve notes. “There’s some acoustic guitar on it, and I got out my old Strats and a lot of my old guitars. My good friend, Paul Yandell, who worked with Chet for many years, we did a song called ‘Pals’ that we both play old Gretsch guitars on.”

Including covers is a joy even for noted songwriters. “The only song I didn’t write is, I re-cut Hank Garland‘s, ‘Sugarfoot Rag,’” Steve continues. “I brought on legendary guitar player Leon Rhodes. He became famous working with Ernest Tubb and the Texas Troubadours. I brought him in and he still plays great. It’s real swing. It’s a different interpretation from what you’ve heard before on ‘Sugarfoot Rag.’

But Steve did decide, back when he recorded his 2003 holiday album, ‘Guitar Christmas’ (reissued in October, this year), that he wanted an intimate, at-home kind of feel to each song. Taking it one step further, he decided to color each song unique by playing a different guitar on each one.

“I think the first thing I would say is that it’s just Steve Wariner by himself,” says Steve, describing the album. “I think that’s the first one I’ve even done that way. Most the time I bring in some guests and some friends, and at least some kind of rhythm section. But on this particular one, it’s just as if I were in their living room playing Christmas songs.”

While he didn’t bring anyone in to the studio, Steve did have some help from another type of “friend.” “I used a guitar that Chet Atkins had given me years ago on a couple songs,” he continues. “But other than that, I think I used a different guitar on every single song. And even a friend of mine had a dulcimer that plays like a guitar … but it’s a dulcimer. I borrowed that from him. So I played a song called, ‘I Saw Three Ships‘ on it. Like an artist using colors … I was using guitars to paint.”

Steve was one of only four guitar players in the world to be given the ‘Certified Guitar Player’ (CGP) award by Chet Atkins.

Read the full interview with The 9513 here.

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