About
Bluesman Steve Gardner
Rambling with the blues from Mississippi to Tokyo


Steve Gardner-I was born in Mississippi in 1956. Music came into my life by way of an old phonograph, my cousin's Japanese transistor radio, our black and white television set and church on Sundays. And especially those great times when Daddy would play rhythm on four kitchen knives while Uncle Amos Parker played and sang. I picked up the guitar and harmonica later on and have never looked back.

I met and made friends with Sam Chatmon, of the Mississippi Sheiks in the 70's as I worked on a degree in photojournalism from the University of Southern Mississippi. After a few photos and a meal of fried chicken or catfish Sam would let me blow the harp with him a while saying, "Steve, everybody needs a chance to be told to sit down!" I learned to take that chance when it was offered...you may not get another one anytime soon.

The music and photography became my pass way to friendships with so many fine musicians like Jack Owens, Jessie Mae Hemphill, James Son Thomas, Booba Barnes and more who opened their homes and hearts to me. They all pointed out that you must find your own road into the blues, play your own songs and play them your own way. Usually they would say something like, "Steve, you ain't me and I ain't you so just git on with it!" I did too.

In 1980 I left my photography job at the Jackson (MS) Daily News and moved to Japan where I freelanced for Japanese magazines as well as Time and Newsweek. I covered Asia and the US from here and still found time for the blues. This international interest in the blues led me to finish my best black and white picture book on Mississippi and the blues, Rambling Mind (1994). This book shows the Mississippi that I grew up and know with its-share croppers, good times and hard, its people and the musicians that treated me like both friend and family. My first CD, Rambling With The Blues (2002) is this books musical companion.

The music, the blues has continued to light my path as I ramble across the deep waters from Mississippi to Tokyo. The photography still counts but it has taken a back seat to the guitars and harmonicas. I travel to several Universities in Japan where I play blues and do programs on Mississippi and southern culture. I even do this part-time for Meiji University, a very fine institution indeed. My new CD is Wooly Bully Express (2011/3) it more or less sums up what I think about these turbulent and changing times. If life is like a bottle of whiskey, you better drink it all and not waste a drop...Remember, you can't be afraid and live free...after all, everybody gets the blues...sometime.


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