“Yeah, I grew up on that album for sure,” the singer told Roughtstock.com. “Every year, we’d get that album out and I would sit by the studio and listen to those songs. I just loved it. That project of Chet’s was a big influence on me.” That influence can be heard all over Steve’s latest project Guitar Christmas. In fact, a part of Atkins’ legacy can be heard on the disc. “You can see it on this project in a lot of ways,” the singer admits. “On a couple of tunes, I played Chet’s guitar, and I did ‘Winter Wonderland,’ and kind of borrowed from his version. I think that’s the neat thing about the album is there’s no accompaniment whatsoever. It is what it is. There’s no studio trickery. I just plugged in and played, you know. I think that makes it unique.”
Guitar Christmas, while being released to the masses for the first time in 2010, has actually been out there for a while. “We originally did the album a few years ago,” the singer said. “I really just started it by cutting a few tracks here and there for some friends and family for them to have some things at Christmas. We went in and finished the whole project, and it really was just available on-line. We didn’t really think about putting it in stores or making it available anywhere else but on-line. It just kind of snowballed and grew over the years, and everybody really liked it. We got a good buzz over it the last few years, so this year we decided that ‘This needs to be in stores.’ We had a lot of people talking about it. It never was available other than on our web site. So, we re-packaged it, did some new art work, and a little sleeve for it, and here it is in stores this year, so we’re really excited about everybody liking it like they are.”
Of course, Christmas has an extra special meaning for the singer, as he was born on December 25. Though he says that took some getting used to, he says he wouldn’t have it any other way. “I think that’s cool. I’ve always loved that. My friends would always tell me ‘Man, you should have your birthday in the summer when they heard me kind of gripe about it.’ But now I love it, I wouldn’t change it for anything. I love this time of year. You start hearing those same songs each year. It seems like they start a little earlier each year, but I love it.”
Look for 2011 to see more in the way of new music from the artist behind such hits as “By Now” and “Holes In The Floor Of Heaven.” Of his plans for the new year, he says “I’m going to get back to writing as soon as the holidays are over. I’ve not been writing so much lately. I’ve been working on a new album that will be coming out on February 8. It’s called Guitar Laboratory. I kind of say that it’s a little journey all over the map as far as styles and genres go. All of the guitar guys out there will like it, and it’s going to have some interesting packaging. I’ve already got the art work done. I’m hoping to get out and play. I did a few shows this fall called “An Intimate Evening With Steve Wariner,” which is a two-hour show that goes through my life. The second half concentrates on the tribute I did to Chet. In April, I’ll be doing it out in Arizona, and in Washington, D.C. in May. I have a neat audio-visual presentation that will play behind me, so it’s somewhat of a different show. “
The past year has seen Steve celebrate the career of former boss Atkins with the release of Steve Wariner, C.G.P.—My Tribute To Chet Atkins, a tribute album that netted Wariner a Grammy. He was especially proud that Leona Atkins, Chet’s widow, got to hear the album before her death in November 2009. “We miss Leona a lot. I stayed in real close touch with her after Chet passed away in 2001, and Merle, their daughter. I talked to her quite a bit, and stayed in touch. She loved the Chet album. It made it for me when I took it over to her house, and played it for her, and she hugged my neck and told me that she loved it. I was hoping that would be the response I would get. She was a dear lady, and I loved her and miss her a lot.
Recording for Selectone, his own label, has afforded Wariner creative freedom---which is something he enjoys. “I think that what it makes me do is be even more creative. I don’t have to fit into a certain box or fit into anything. When I started this project, one of the reasons I called it Guitar Laboratory was I had been cutting some guitar tracks, and a friend came by the studio, and I had wires and cables and guitars lying everywhere. He looked at me and asked me ‘Man, What are you, some kind of mad scientist, you know”
“What’s nice is I’m at a place that I can do what I feel like I need to be doing right now, and I don’t have to fit into any certain style. I know I don’t have to be this or that. I can just do what’s creative, and what feels natural and right. It is kind of a relief in a lot of ways. I know there are a lot of people who like the singing part of me, and that might be coming down the road later, but it is nice that on a whim, if you decide you want to do this project. It allows me to be extra creative in that respect. It’s a lot of fun to not have to worry about fitting into a certain box. I love that.”
Wariner is currently gearing up for the holidays, and all that comes along with it. Who knows, he just might pull out his LP copy of Christmas with Chet Atkins, and let the record player spin away. “There’s something about vinyl. I don’t know what it is. I still have a turntable, and I still listen. There is something about a needle on vinyl that is unique. There’s a warmth that you don’t get in other formats. I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but there is a special thing about it---even with the pops and scratches, there’s something about it that is warm and nice and makes you feel good.”
For more information on Steve Wariner and Guitar Christmas, log on to www.SteveWariner.com!