The first time Ron Gannaway went into the studio with country singer/guitarist Steve Wariner, with whom he had been touring for several years, he had a question. “I asked Steve, ‘Why am I here?’ He had always used great Nashville studio drummers on his records. Steve told me he liked the way I played on the demos we made in his home studio.”
Gannaway appeared on three tracks from Wariner’s 1986 release No More Mr. Nice Guy, and also co-wrote “The Brickyard Boogie.” Then Gannaway played on over half of Wariner’s next release, Burnin’ The Roadhouse Down, including the hit single “Holes In The Floor Of Heaven.” On Wariner’s current release, Two Teardrops, Gannaway played on about half of the tracks.
“In Nashville,” Ron explains, “it’s pretty rare for a tour drummer to get the opportunity to record. But Steve gave me a shot and it worked out. Things have always seemed to work with us musically and personally. There have been times when he hasn’t toured as much, so I’ve gone off and worked with other artists. But I always come back when Steve picks it up again.”
Wariner’s albums feature straight-ahead, backbeat-oriented pop/country drumming. But when playing live, Ron says, Steve likes to stretch a little bit and incorporate jazz and blues influences into his playing. “Steve was very influenced by Chet Atkins, so I draw on Larrie Londin, who recorded with Chet a lot. I also like Steve Ferrone and Dave Mattacks. I consider myself a commercial drummer who can play the kind of stuff you hear on the radio. I like drummers who groove, obviously, but I also like drummers who play musically.”
When Wariner produced an album by legendary country songwriter Bill Anderson, Gannaway got the call to play in a more traditional style. “I was excited about approaching that record the way Buddy Harman or Kenny Malone would play,” Gannaway explains. “In a situation like that, you use a brush in one hand and get a good cross-stick rim sound with the other hand. Overall, the drums shouldn’t have that bombastic, in-your-face rock sound that’s taken over country radio. Even when you go to a full shot on the snare, it should have a nice tone and maybe a lower tuning so the drum sits in the track real nice.
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