Mercury Nashville recording artist Steve Azar will perform in Batesville on Saturday at SpringFest ’03, touring behind his debut album "Waitin’ On Joe."
A Mississippi native, Azar is best known for his chart-topping hits, "I Don’t Have To Be Me ‘Til Monday", and his most recent, "Waitin’ On Joe".
In an exclusive interview with The Panolian, Azar said, "I do it for the people. I wasn’t into the Delta blues music when I was growing up and playing music here. I was into the people, although obviously I was influenced by the Delta."
One of those influences was Bo Ridgeway, whom Azar swears is the best guitar player ever from the Delta.
"This guy is not in any band right now, but several artists want him to play on their records and in their bands. I would really like to make a record with him someday. He is the best slide guitarist I have ever known."
Azar is married and has three children, ages 2, 5 and 7. Although he will spend about 225 days on the road this year, he still makes quality time with his family.
"It’s impossible for my family to travel with me right now," said Azar. "I will do about 160 shows this year. I really appreciate the quality of the school systems here in Nashville. They are doing a great job in helping to nurture the kids these days," he added.
Azar’s travels are done in the usual, mundane tour bus. Nothing fancy he says.
"Our bus is pretty spacey, but we have 11 guys traveling with us," he said. "Our band is really an international band, made up of great musicians from all over the country, including our drummer who is from Italy."
Azar is really proud of his roots.
"It’s really something. In just about every article that I’ve seen, the Delta has been recognized. That’s really great. My whole being comes from where I am. As much as I thought I wanted to get away, I moved but I realized who I was and where I was from."
"Delta Dreams", "Azar is Born", and "Mississippi Blues Brother" are just a few of the snappy captions used in the headlines from the national magazines and newspapers – all relating to the Delta.
"My whole being in the music business is because of where I grew up. Whether you write songs or not, it’s the soul, the [Mississippi River].
"The river was as much an influence on my life and career as any person has been."
It’s also a lot of hard work.
"People in Nashville hold Mississippi musicians to a higher standard," said Azar. "Being from this [Delta] area, I’ve heard it said that I have a ‘unique sound’, a ‘Delta-bred’ sound, if you will."