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Adam Warner – Too Many Stories to Choose a Title

Here I go again.  I discovered another artist randomly and I now consider him one of my favorites.  He’s Adam Warner. Every now and then, while listening to music on your digital platform of choice, it’s not a bad idea to give those “other artists you might like” a chance.  You might enjoy a song or two, or you might end up listening to their entire catalog on repeat all night long. If you write for a music website, you could end up taking it a step further and messaging the artist on social media to request an interview.

That’s how I ended up right here, right now.  I was fortunate enough to be granted an interview with Adam Warner right before one of his shows, which gave me the opportunity to see him perform live.  I saw him play at the Commodore Grille in Nashville with his band. He was great, but what I really enjoyed about him was how interactive he was. He’s a storyteller.  Just about every song was prefaced with a story. That’s my kind of show, but this isn’t supposed to be a review, this is an interview, so I’ll just back this train up and get to it.

Photo courtesy of 90 East Photography and Think Country

We met on the back patio on a beautiful May evening in Nashville.  Adam Warner is a big guy. He looks like someone you don’t want to mess with, but he couldn’t have been more easy going.  

Photo courtesy of 90 East Photography and Think Country

Warner hails from Lawrenceville, Illinois, which is about as far southeast as you can get in Illinois, right on the Indiana/Kentucky border, which explains his southern drawl.  It’s nearly eight hours away from the big city of Chicago, and the closest major metropolitan area is Evansville, Indiana.


Image courtesy of TownMapsUSA.com

With both sides of his family being farmers, the great outdoors is where Warner spent most of his childhood.  “I did a lot of fishin’ and playin’ in the woods behind our house, catchin’ critters and whatnot, ridin’ four-wheelers, bikes and dirt bikes.  Breakin’ things, goin’ to the hospital because we were ridin’ four-wheelers and dirt bikes when we shouldn’t have been. That type of deal, we were havin’ a good time.  We had a pond behind my house.”

Warner raced four-wheelers and dirt bikes from the time he was about 13 until he got his driver’s license and “then something else started catchin’ my interest besides four-wheelers and dirt bikes, girls.  Then when deer season came around, my friends and me, we were huntin’. We’d skip school to go ride four-wheelers.”

As for music growing up, Warner said he doesn’t even have a favorite genre.  “In my opinion, if it’s good, it’s good. I love rock music, I listen to country music.  Like when I was a teenager, I’d listen to anything from Pantera to Lynyrd Skynyrd to Garth Brooks to Waylon to Nirvana.  I just liked it all. I gravitated more toward rock, like southern rock and country. I listened to some hip-hop here and there but it was pretty limited.  The only guys I really liked were like Jay-Z because he was real good at tellin’ stories, which is the same reason I like country music.”

I hear over and over that country artists are influenced by the classic country artists, and Warner is no different.  He lists Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard as a few of his favorites. On the drive to the venue, my husband and I were talking about this.  Out of all of those artists, my personal favorite is Merle Haggard. There’s a Haggard song that I really love and not many current artists cover that song. I told my husband that I was going to ask Warner what his favorite Merle Haggard song was.  I said, “I doubt he’ll say my favorite, but if he does, he’ll earn a million brownie points with me.”

We talked about the classic country artists.  I told Warner I really enjoy Merle Haggard. He responded with, “I love Merle.  Merle has one of those voices that’s just so distinct and he can paint a picture with what he’s tellin’ you.  It’s like, when he’s singin’ a song, you can see it. It’s like Johnny Cash and ‘Ragged Old Flag’, you can see what he’s singin’ about, it paints that picture.  I really think Merle, he was one of those guys that just captured that, and his voice too. He had such a unique sound that he captured that storytellin’ aspect of everything.”

Then I took aim.  I asked what his favorite Merle Haggard song was.  “Wow. You know, I play ‘Ramblin’ Fever’ a lot because it’s kind of a classic one, but ‘Misery and Gin’, that’s probably my favorite.”  All the brownie points were won. “Misery and Gin” is my favorite Merle Haggard song. I have several favorites, but that one tops the list.  “You know, I play ‘Ramblin’ Fever’ and ‘I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink’ and stuff like that just because I feel like people know those songs more, but if I had to pick one as my favorite, I don’t know what it is, but ‘Misery and Gin’, I like it.  I told Warner I love it because I honestly feel like I’m in the trenches with Haggard with that song. “Yeah. That’s a great way to say it, you’re in the trenches with him”, he agreed.

Video courtesy of Live from Austin TX and YouTube

Can’t Get Enough is Warner’s most recent EP.  It was recorded at Daniel Dennis’s Prime Cut Studios in Nashville.  “The best thing about Daniel, is he gets me, and he’s a really creative guy.”  He stressed that Dennis was an open-minded producer who was willing to try different directions, which made working with him very easy.  “He’s a good hang, and for me, that’s the biggest thing. If I can sit in a room with you all day long and not be sick of you at the end of the day, it’s always a good thing.”

What’s interesting, and actually so fabulous about this EP, is the songwriting.  Most notably that some of the songs were written by the late songwriter Kim Williams.  Williams, who, sadly passed away in 2016, was one of Music Row’s most legendary fixtures, penning hits such as “Papa Loves Mama” for Garth Brooks and Randy Travis’s classic, “Three Wooden Crosses”.  You can also find Williams in the Country Music Hall of Fame. It seems Williams left behind a treasure trove of songs that were never recorded, perhaps just waiting for exactly the right person to bring them to life.  It was Phyllis Williams, widow of Kim Williams, who recognized Adam Warner as that person after seeing him play at a show. I spoke with her briefly after Warner’s show at the Commodore Grille and she said, “Kim would have loved him (Warner).”  If that isn’t one of the highest compliments an artist can ever receive, I’m not sure what is. So, look for more songs written by Kim Williams to be recorded by Warner. We talked about that during out interview and he is extremely honored that he has been given this opportunity.

Another standout song on the EP is a cover of the Trace Adkins song, “Semper Fi”.  Adam Warner is a United States Marine Corps Veteran, so this song has a special meaning to him, of course, but it isn’t just any old cover, this one is actually a duet with Trace Adkins.  The song was co-written by Trace Adkins, Kenny Beard and Monty Criswell.  “Trace, I’ve learned so much from Trace, and Kenny, he’s one of the first people I met when I moved to Nashville and he’s since passed away, unfortunately.  When I first heard that song I was still in the Marine Corps, and me and my buddies, we were like, ‘That’s a great song!’, so I couldn’t wait to record it.”  “Semper Fi” has also been nominated for the Independent Music Awards Country Song of the Year.

Video courtesy of Adam Warner and YouTube

We then talked a little bit about him being in the service and then coming home.  My son-in-law was in the Marine Corps as well, and is still dealing with some PTSD.  He has trouble with crowds and noise and things like that. He’s doing much better as time goes by, but it’s really sad what living in a war zone will do to a person.  Warner could absolutely relate. “Yeah, it took me about two years before I really wanted to be around people. My first year and a half out I just kind of did my own thing, but then I decided to go to college and some of my classes were really hard to go to, just too many people in one room.”  One of my son-in-law’s issues is crowded restaurants. He doesn’t like to sit with his back to anyone. I asked Warner if he understood that concept. He did. “Oh yeah. I don’t like people being behind me.”

He then told me a story about a friend that was having a really rough time of it and finally found some light at the end of the tunnel.  “A friend of mine, he’s been through it all, and he started training police dogs, special forces dogs, diabetic alert dogs, he’s a canine trainer now.  Workin’ with dogs saved that guy’s life, basically. It really changed everything around for him. I was worried about him for a long time because he was really battling some stuff, and he’s great at it!  He’s an unbelievable trainer.” That gave me hope for veterans dealing with PTSD. Not everybody will find the right outlet like Warner’s friend, but knowing that some will, with the right guidance, that’s something that brightened my day.  These people put their lives on the line for the rest of us, so they deserve good things when they come home.

It may not be widely known, but Hank Williams, Jr.’s given name is actually Randall Hank Williams, and that name inspired another of Warner’s songs, “Rowdy as Randall”.  I wanted to know more about that. “True story. My wife and I were comin’ back from Orlando, Florida and ‘All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight’ (Hank Williams, Jr.) was on the radio and my wife was asleep.  That song came on, so I turned it up a little bit and I was jammin’, and she woke up and she was like, ‘Hey!’, and I’m thinkin’ she wants to drive since she’s been sleepin’ for a few hours. Well, she was like, ‘Can you turn that radio off?  I’m tryin’ to sleep over here.’ So, just as I was about to turn the radio off, Hank said, ‘This is Rockin’ Randall Hank’, and I was thinkin’ I’ve heard a lot of songs about Hank, Jr., but I’ve never heard anyone say anything about Randall Hank, that’s not the same thing.  Then ‘Rowdy as Randall’ started comin’ to me, and no kiddin’, I sat in the car for the next 12 hours while she slept, and I just had this thought goin’ through my head the whole time. I just kind of wrote the song in my head, and the next day when I got in, I called my buddy Pevy up and I told him, ‘Dude, I’ve got this song I wrote on my way back from Florida, and I really want to record it.’  He said ‘Alright’, and we went to the studio and just hashed it out.”

Video courtesy of Adam Warner and YouTube

As if Adam Warner doesn’t have a whole slew of killer tunes already under his belt, he has all kinds of fun stuff backing them up.  How about this one? “Welcome to the South” (Adam Warner, Quinn Loggins, Trafton Harvey) is the anthem for the visiting teams when they come to play against the Tennessee Titans.  The Titans were looking for a new song and Warner, having played football his entire life, from peewee leagues all the way up to playing in the Marine Corps, said every coach he’d ever had said the same thing, “This is our house and we don’t let anyone come to our house and push us around.”  That’s what gave him the idea about protecting “the house”, he just added “the south” and once he brought in the other two writers (Loggins and Harvey), who he gives most of the credit to, he said the song was written in 90 minutes. “Neither of those guys settles for a half-written line either.  Anytime I write with them, I know it’s gonna be good.”

Video courtesy of Tennessee Titans and YouTube

Gear talk.  The guitar Warner plays most often is a Gibson SJ-200, that’s the one he calls “my baby” and it’s the first one he ever had.  He also likes his Gibson J-45. On the acoustic side, he always prefers Gibson guitars. On the electric end of things, it’s a Fender Telecaster American ‘52 style.  That covered guitars, but what about other important stage gear? All you need to do is take one look at Adam Warner and you know I’m talking about hats.

The hat Warner was wearing the day of our interview was made by a man named Dirty Billy.  Now, you might think that’s a strange name, but one look at this hat up close and all I can say is, “Who cares?!”  He can call himself whatever he wants, he makes one slick looking hat. Warner gave me the lowdown on Dirty Billy. “The story behind it is, when I went to shoot the video for “Semper Fi” in South Carolina, that’s where Dirty Billy’s hat shop is, I knew I had to go see this dude.  So, I went in there and I told him, ‘I want a hat, and the hats I like the best are like a cross between Doc Holliday from Tombstone and Waylon Jennings’, and he said, ‘Well, you’re in luck’, and I was like, ‘Why’s that?’ Then he goes, ‘Because I made every hat for the movie Tombstone when they filmed that movie.’  I was like, ‘You’re kiddin’ me!’  So, he pulled up the video and he showed me, and he does it the old-fashioned way, he hand makes every hat.”  I then took a picture of the inside of his hat so I could show all of you where that fine piece of work came from.  It was made from beaver, which Warner said is perfect, especially when he plays outdoors because water just beads off.  If you do order a hat from Dirty Billy, don’t expect it to be like Amazon Prime though, you won’t find it on your doorstep overnight.  It may take weeks. Warner said his took about a month before he received it, and when it came, he had to reshape it thanks to it being hot at that time of the year, but he didn’t go messing with it on his own, he sought out the expert advice of Dirty Billy on how to get it looking right again properly.  He followed his directions and it looked perfect again in no time. Master craftsmen know what they’re doing. Let them be your guide.

Photo courtesy of Patti McClintic and Think Country

Photo courtesy of Patti McClintic and Think Country

Now that you know something about Adam Warner, I bet you want to go check him out live.  So, where can you do that? A whole lot of places! His next stop will be opening up for Midland in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and then he’ll be hopping over to the east coast for the Jersey Shore Music Festival and a stop in Pennsylvania.  One of the exciting places he’ll be heading is New York City to see what happens with that nomination for “Semper Fi”, and of course, he and his team have their fingers crossed. Panama City, Florida is on the list as well, but the best way to see if he’s coming your way is to follow him on all of his social media sites, which I have listed at the bottom of this interview.  You absolutely don’t want to miss him. “We bounce around”, says Warner.

Of course, I would be remiss not to mention what might be the biggest show Warner has coming up soon.  It’s at a venue I think you’ve all probably heard of, it’s called the Grand Ole Opry.  Yes, Adam Warner will be making his Opry debut on Sunday, June 9th.  If you think you’d like to be a part of that monumental moment in this artist’s life, you’d better hurry up and get to opry.com right away.  I’m sure tickets are going fast.  It’s a daytime show right during CMA Fest, if there are any tickets left, grab them up now.   He’s really excited about this as you would expect, and after seeing him perform and hearing everything he has available that’s recorded, he deserves to stand in that circle.

Let’s say you buy a ticket to one of Adam Warner’s shows, you watch, you get completely into it, you’re hooked!  You want to meet him. Does he consider himself to be approachable for fans that want an autograph or a photo? “Oh, yeah.”  I made sure by asking, “They don’t have to be too scared?” “Oh, no, tell ‘em to come on up and say, ‘hey’, that’s all.” So, there you go.  You have every reason to go to a show now. The music is some of the best anywhere, you can get some of the greatest merch I’ve seen (and purchased), and as long as there’s time, you can meet the artist without fear.  Go check that schedule as soon as you’re finished reading this interview. Homework that’s actually fun.

What’s something about Adam Warner that you didn’t know?  Well, if you know him, I’m sure you already have this one down, but if you’re just getting acquainted with him, here’s a fun fact.  He’s an avid fisherman. He said he’d rather go fishing than just about anything else. I asked him if he was any good at it, and he replied, “I don’t like to toot my own horn, but I’m pretty darned good at it.  I fish in a few different tournaments a year and I’ve had five third place finishes, still lookin’ for that first place, haven’t won second place, and I’ve had seven top tens in 20 tournaments.” I guess he is pretty good!  The one thing he would not reveal, however, is where his favorite waterways to fish are. Oh, he has them, but he’s holding those close to the vest. He said he’s a catch and release guy, for one, so he’s not about to let anyone know where the fish are, but most of all, he enjoys getting out there in nature for some relaxation.  He doesn’t want anyone finding out where he’s soaking up his alone time. I can respect that.

If he’s feeling a little more social, his favorite venue in Nashville to go see live music is 3rd & Lindsley.  “It’s a little more intimate, but every band that comes through there seems to be on top of their game. I love 3rd & Lindsley.  I love those places where the atmosphere’s dark and there’s a bar.”

Always last, never least.  When Adam Warner “Thinks Country”, what does he think?  “For me, it’s the lyrics of the song. There’s such a broad brush right now with country music, and I think everything has its place, and I’d never take anything away from any artist doing what they’re doing, but for me, it’s about the story.  Like I said earlier, if you can listen to a song and it brings you somewhere, like it takes you to a certain place, whether it’s a heartbreak or a story about your granddad or just a love song or a drinkin’ song, or whatever the case may be, I think it’s just the words of a song.  I always say, country music isn’t all about tailgates and girls in Daisy Duke shorts and drinkin’ beer, it’s something you can relate to. It’s something that touches you, and that’s what I try to do in my music. There’s always fun songs, and you gotta write fun songs because not everything needs to be serious, but that’s why I was sayin’, like with Merle and Johnny, and even Trace, he’s one of the last few guys that has songs that you hear ‘em and you’re like, ‘Dang! I don’t know who wrote that, but that’s a song right there!’”

Photo courtesy of 90 East Photography and Think Country

Adam Warner can be found:

Website:  https://www.adamwarneriscountry.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/AdamWarnerMusic/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/AdamWarnerMusic?lang=en

Instagram:  @adamwarnermusic

Dirty Billy’s Hats can be found: http://www.dirtybillyshats.com/



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