Award winning singer/songwriter/guitarist/producer Steve Wariner has recorded a tribute to his old friend and mentor, Chet Atkins. Scheduled for release on Wariner’s own SelecTone Records, the June 23 release date for Steve Wariner, c.g.p., My Tribute to Chet Atkins falls between Atkins’ birthdate of June 20 and the anniversary of his death on June 30. While Wariner stresses that “You can’t out-Chet Chet,” the 11-song collection he’s put together plays like a loving triptych through the musical life and career of Atkins, who Wariner knew as a friend, a teacher, a producer, and a boss. “This is simply my way of honoring and paying homage to the genius and talent of the man who, in my opinion, is the greatest and most influential guitarist on the planet,” Wariner said.
The abbreviation “c.g.p.” stands for “Certified Guitar Player,” a title that Chet would bestow on only four guitar pickers: Tommy Emmanuel, John Knowles, the late Jerry Reed, and Wariner. The album covers the wide range of material that Atkins recorded — from the mountain music of his earliest days in his hometown of Luttrell, Tennesesee, to the swing, rockabilly, pop, folk and jazz that distinguished his long and prolific career. Wariner includes versions of songs from the Atkins repertoire, plus “Producer’s Medley,” which compiles some of the hits Atkins produced for other artists. But the bulk of the album consists of Wariner originals written in the various styles that Atkins made famous. Wariner first met Atkins when he was 18 years old and playing bass in Dottie West’s band. Atkins produced Wariner’s first records at RCA Studio B and subsequently hired the young musician to play bass in his band. “Chet was an incredible person who gave me so many opportunities,” Wariner said. “I’m proud to call him my friend.”