In Sept. 9 IssueBy Kim GrahamTimes Journal Reporter
An Evening with Grammy Award Winner Steve Wariner last weekend was both homecoming and pilgrimage.
As a former Russell Countian, Wariner came home to a warm welcome from friends and family who attended his show.
Longtime fans travelled from South Carolina, Georgia, and as far away as New York and Connecticut for the sole purpose of seeing Wariner live in concert.
Three ladies from New York and Connecticut flew to Nashville and drove up to Russell Springs for the long awaited event.
"We've planned this trip all summer," said Joan Healy of Long Island, NY. "This was truly a girls' weekend."
She and her friends JoAnne Acerstrom of New York and Margaret Bottasso of Connecticut said they thoroughly enjoyed Wariner's new show format.
Wariner introduced his multimedia show for the first time at the Russell County Schools Auditorium.
"This was the first presentation of his new show he's taking on the road," said Susan Melton, director Russell County Schools Auditorium.
Throughout the night, Wariner shared stories of his personal life and music career with the audience.
He said growing up his home was always full of guitars and he thought every kid lived the same kind of music filled life only to find out when he went to school that wasn't the case.
His smiles of recognition while pointing out relatives in the crowd filled the evening with the cozy feel of a private party while the professionalism of the presentation drew in the audience with family and career photographs.
This year, Wariner was awarded his 4th Grammy for Best Country Instrumental Performance for his song, “Producer's Medley,” from his most recent recording “My Tribute to Chet Atkins.”
After a brief intermission, Wariner performed many of the songs from his tribute to Atkins.
He spoke his mentor and friend conveying the close relationship they had during their professional association.
Atkins gave Wariner his first big break signing him to RCA in the 1980's and later gave him the distinction of Certified Guitar Player, a title coined by Atkins who never received a college degree.
Wariner also shared his excitement that he will soon be inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Lexington next April.
Among the many songs performed by the artist was "I'm Missing You", a song he wrote for U.S. troops that was recorded by Kenny Rogers.
During the song, a heartwarming slide show of service men and women played on a screen behind him displaying the hardships of combat service and the emotion of homecomings.
"I loved the new show," said Russell County resident Gloria Selby. "It was real personal like sitting and having a chat with him. You got to see more of his nature and his personality."
Selby's mother, Molly Selby and sister, Shena Selby shared her assessment of the evening with glowing reviews. The trio sat front row center at the Saturday night show.
Shena Selby is a devoted Wariner fan who was a member of his fan club for 16 years and a former president of the club.
"She's the best advertiser he's got," said Molly Selby. "Everywhere she goes she tells people how wonderful Steve is."
Others in the audience may become avid supporters of the artist as well after last weekend's performance.
"We had over 400 people in attendance," Melton said. "Everyone that attended had nothing but positive comments about the show."
Melton said profits from the show will go back into the school system to bring other artists to perform for students during October and November of this year.
"We were very pleased," said Melton. "We're ready to move on with future performances."
Tickets are on sale now at a cost of $35 each for Grammy award winning artist, Ricky Skaggs show slated for October 16th.
"We hope we have a huge turnout for him as well," said Melton.
To order tickets, call the Russell County Schools Auditorium at 270-866-6300.