My Tribute To Chet Atkins

Steve Wariner

Select Tone, 2009

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Chet Atkins was probably the most influential country guitarist of the twentieth century, and one of the best guitarists period. His picking style and the clarity of each note were legendary.  His long career as an instrumentalist and producer exerted a huge influence in the field of country music from the ‘50s through the ‘70s.

He was a perfectionist, especially when it came to his chosen instrument. He developed his own award for excellence on the guitar. The abbreviation c.g.p. stands for “Certified Guitar Player.” He only bestowed the title four times during his career: John Knowles, Jerry Reed, Tommy Emmanuel, and Steve Wariner were the recipients of what was a great country honor.

Steve Wariner is now beginning the fourth decade of his distinguished career. He has issued eighteen studio albums and placed at least fifty singles on the country charts in the United States. Chet Atkins passed away in 2001, and Wariner has finally released a fitting tribute to his mentor and friend.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

If you like guitar music, and especially guitar pickin’ country music, then My Tribute To Chet Atkins is an album for you. Wariner has a style that is similar to Atkins’. The focus is on the clarity of each note and he is able to produce a tone that is second to none. The album is a combination of covers and originals but all evoke the sound and memory of the master.

The first two tracks establish his sound. His original composition, “Leavin’ Luttrell,” and his take on the traditional American folk song “John Henry” are stripped-down affairs, backed by only a muted bass and percussion so that the focus is squarely on his guitar playing.

Wariner begins to expand the sound with the next two tracks. “(Back Home Again In) Indiana” was recorded by Atkins in 1954 and Wariner remains true to the original, sharing center stage with a fiddle. “Leona,” which is a tribute to Atkins’ wife, makes use of some strings to creates a fuller sound.

In concert, Chet Atkins would always play a medley of songs he had produced. Wariner presents his own “Producer’s Medley,” which is a combining of eight pop and country hits. The center of the medley is “The Three Bells,” “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” “Java,” and “Let It Be Me,” which is smooth and at times subtle as his guitar plays in front of more strings and a piano. He finishes the medley with a quick tribute to old friend Jerry Reed on “When You’re Hot You’re Hot.”

The last two tracks contain the album’s only vocals. The better of the two is “Chet’s Guitar,” which is a poignant tribute to his old friend featuring him singing about stealing his guitar licks.

My Tribute To Chet Atkins is a heartfelt and superior release by one of the best country guitarists alive today. Somewhere Chet Atkins is smiling.

Rating: B+

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© 2009 David Bowling and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Select Tone, and is used for informational purposes only.