Ax Facts & Stats with Steve Azar

Today we have another “Guitar Ax Facts & Stats” interview from Dave Roberts – this time with country music artist Steve Azar

Steve Azar

My name is:
Steve Azar.

My current job is:
I’m a singer, songwriter, producer, recording artist and co-founder of my Indie label, Ride Records.

My hometown:
Greenville Mississippi.

My current album or project is:
Slide On Over Here.

Former bands:
I’ve always gone solo, but have spent the past dozen years or so playing with some of the same guys in my band and we’re all very good friends, as well.

My guitar influences growing up were:
Albert King, Eugene Powell (Sony Boy Nelson) and Little Milton, Roosevelt “Booba” Barnes. I was raised in the Delta and as a kid, was surrounded by all these great musicians. I was always intrigued with why they wrote the song, the pain they were going through, and the silver lining these great players would either express in words or emotion. On the other side, there’s Bruce Springsteen, as well as Bob Seger, which I was fortunate enough to spend 46 glorious nights touring with on his last run of Face The Promise Tour. I’ve always been into the singer songwriters — Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp, Neil Diamond, Carol King, Jackson Browne, and the list goes on.

The guitars I use are:
I use a LOT of guitars throughout my shows. The guitars I’m currently using are:
Gibson Es-335 tobacco burst circa 1986

Fender American Standard red Stratocaster equipped w/ DiMarzio single coils and one Duncan hot rail

Taylor Electric Silver sparkle SB-S1-T

Gibson Classic Les Paul (Cherry)

Peavey JFX red sparkle (Destroyed in Flood)

Fender Telecaster American Standard pink w Duncan Hot rail in bridge

Gretsch 100 Anniversary edition w/ Bigsby bridge & Philitron pick ups

Gibson j-45 dreadnought Acoustic

Gibson j-200 Jumbo Acoustic

Gibson j-200 elite Acoustic w/ shadow on board pick-up controls

Gibson Hummingbird dreadnought Acoustic

Taylor 615 big body Acoustic Guitar

Taylor 815 big body Acoustic guitar (both equipped w/ Fishman Natural Maxtix 001.

The strings and tunings I use are:
Ernie Ball takes great care of me and the boys. I tend to lean toward heavier gauged strings like mediums 13-56. Tuning wise, I’m all over the map, from open E to drop down D –whatever inspires and works for the song.

My current rig setup consists of:
Amplifiers and effects.

2-GA-30 Gibson 2×12 Amplifiers 1-American 1- British

2- Evolution Series Sennheiser wireless units…

2 Boss tu-2 tuners

1 Boss Blues driver

1-Boss Tremelo tr-2

1-Boss delay dd-2

1-Boss Flanger

2-Morley Bad Horsie wah-wah’s 1 acoustic 1-electric

1-Boss ls-2 line selector

The greatest invention for guitars is:
The Bigsby Whammy Bar…mainly because it’s cool looking, lol. The Wah Wah pedal– I have quite the arsenal! Now, they come in handy, even with my acoustics. Not sure if they were the greatest inventions, but they’ve been the most fun for me!

My normal songwriting process consists of:
That’s a multi-headed monster! Sometimes it’s at scheduled appointments, or it can be at soundcheck, during a show– just pops out of the clear blue. I never know when, it just usually happens on its own time! I do feel that part of the songwriting process for me is still happening even while laying it down and recording! Working the studio part has made a big difference in the outcome of what the song should grow up to be.

My favorite guitar solo from our band:
That would be my boy and bandmate, Mark Easterling’s guitar solo on “The Flatlands,” which lives on my Indianola record. He did it one take! Whoa! I wouldn’t let him edit or change any of it.

My favorite all-time guitar solo (from another guitarist):
Clapton and George Harrison. Any and everything they do, I dig.

Favorite all-time song (any artist) is:
“The River” by the Boss. It hit home growing up on The Mississippi. I knew those people he sang about in that song.

Favorite song by our band:
That would be like saying, “which child do you like the most;” better not go there! LOL!

Favorite song to perform in front of a live audience:
It really depends on the room, the crowd, the mood.

My Career highlight thus far is:
My career has been a serious rollercoaster ride, to say the least. But, I love doing what I do and I do know that it’s a gift. My highlights, I suppose, are a handful of them. Each, equally as important as the other, simply because it’s allowed me the means to keep going and know this is what I was put on this planet to do. Morgan Freeman being in my “Waitin’ On Joe” video was like a photo book of my life in the Delta and its influence on me. Then it became a #1 video! Being chosen by Bob Seger to be on his last tour. Writing and recording one of the Top 5 most played songs of the decade on radio with “I Don’t Have To be Me, ‘Til Monday.” Starting my foundation, The Saint Cecilia Foundation with my wife, Gwen. Having the Governor of Mississippi give me my very own “Steve Azar Day.” And last, but not least, is having Reba, who I admire so dang much, record one of my songs, “Big Blue Sky.” Now that was cool!

My most embarrassing moment on stage:
It’s funny, even when things break or stop working or whatever while I’m on stage, I always see that as a way to forget about what’s planned for the night and actually entertain the people.

Other than my guitar and amps, the one piece of my gear that I cannot live without is:
My tuners! Lord knows I need them!

The first song I ever mastered on guitar:
I’m a singer-songwriter, so that would be “New Orleans Ladies.” But just like every kid starting out, I’m sure “Stairway To Heaven” was in the mix.

My first guitar was:
Harmony Classical. That’s why I still prefer wider neck guitars I think, it just feels right with my fingers.

The first time I ever heard our band on the radio was:
In Madison, Wisconsin back in 96’.

If I am only sure of one thing in life, Its:
My wife. Music led me to her. Sappy as it might sound, I married the right girl. She has been as much of a rock as anyone can be, especially being married to a musician. That takes the cake.

The one ritual I always perform prior to going on stage is:
I always touch fists with my percussionist and backup singer, sidekick Jason Young. We’ve been together for 15 years. He’s my Tonto! LOL!

The exact moment I knew I would pursue a career in music was:
I never really thought you could do this for real. I was just doing it so much, things would happen to keep me just enough to continue on in the game. I grew up playing every type of place– from juke joints, to blues festivals, to my church, rock and country clubs, colleges and even high schools. Anywhere they would let me play. By the time I graduated college at Delta State, we had 240 one-nighters on the books, two 30-foot trucks of gear we had to pay for, and 10 people on the payroll. We were so much in debt we couldn’t stop!

The one thing most fans don’t know about me is:
I bare it all in my songs… although that’s not really much of a mystery to my real fans.

The best advice I could give beginning guitarists:
Work 45 minutes a day, twice a day, and everyday religiously. And if you can’t play the “F” chord early on, it probably means you’re going be a pretty good player. LOL

CD(s) I’m listening to right now:
Meet Glen Campbell, Magic by Bruce Springsteen, Citizen Cope’s The Clarence Greenwood Project and Albert King’s I Wanna Get Funky.

My three all-time favorite albums:
The Boss’s Greetings From Asbury Park, John Denver’s Poem Prayer And Promises and Indianola –by me, (tee-he-he).

Best gig:
The Blues Festival in Yazoo, Mississippi back in the early 90’s. I wasn’t on the bill and the show promoters were using our gear. Those promoters bailed on the show day of, and all the acts, of course, refused to play. The fact that I played for 20 thousand very upset people and didn’t get shot was a miracle.

Favorite junk food:
Milk Duds.

My biggest pet peeve:
On airplanes—I hate it when people behind us try to pass me on the way off the plane. Come on, I want to get the heck off the sucker, too.

The word or catch phrase I say too much is:
“I love it.”

The hardest part of my job:
Finding balance.

What I like to do in my “off” time:
Golf and cooking.

The first thing I do when I come home from touring is:

Previous or first day job:
This is it. I’ve never had another job!

Right after this interview I’m going to:
Drink more coffee. This sucker has been long!

I couldn’t imagine being on the road without:
My main man, Jason, he keeps me laughing.

If I wasn’t doing the musician thing, I could really see myself working as:
A college professor, don’t laugh– you asked.

Favorite movie:

My mission in life:
Be a great father and husband.

My guilty pleasure band or artist:
Rush –the three of them make a lot of noise, ya’ know.

My next goal is:
To just keep on keeping on. Actually, I’m gonna release a series of EP’s called Delta Soul to the UK. I’d love to start touring over the pond yearly.

The greatest contribution guitars/music have brought into my life is:
Music has given me my life, everything I have ever accomplished, and even failed at, has been centered around my career in music.

Check out our Website at:

The one musician I would love to work with that I have not yet had the chance would be:
The Boss, The Boss, The Boss, Bruce Springsteen!

If I could have three wishes, they would be:
That’s a hard one. I quit wishing for things years ago, mainly because it doesn’t pay the bills. LOL .

When it’s all said and done, I want the world to remember me for:
My songs, and how they impacted people’s lives. That’s it.

Copyright Dave Roberts & – Photo © copyright Pamela Springsteen – Used with permission.

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