About Rambling Steve

Rambling Steve Gardner, Mississippi Roots and Bluesman

based in Tokyo, Japan, plays original, acoustic roots and country blues music; finger picking and slide on National Reso-phonic guitars, and harmonica.

You know, Big Leg Acoustic Stuff.

With more than seven CDs of traditional and original music, Rambling Steve Gardner plays and tours solo and with the JERICHO ROAD SHOW in the Southeastern United States, Austria and Germany as well as his home base of Japan, where many of his tours have been sponsored by the Cultural Affairs section of the United States Department of State.

Rambling Steve Gardner, based in Japan since 1980, grew up in Mississippi, listening to, learning from and sometimes playing with many of the legendary blues greats from:
  • Sam Chatmon of the Mississippi Sheiks
  • Booby Barnes, and James “Son” Thomas in the Mississippi Delta
  • Jessie Mae Hemphill, the “She Wolf” of the Mississippi Hill Country
  • down to Central Mississippi Blues Man Jack Owens from Bentonia, to name but a few.



(sixth release on Blues Cat Records (2012) is a collection of traditional and original tunes some taking root as far back as the 1500’s. As well as entertaining it is meant to be educational and is the sound track for the many American Roots & Blues Shows that Rambling Steve performs in both the Japan and the USA. Although more than half of the recording si Steve playing solo he is joined by the Believers Today Choir, Bill Steber and Washboard Chaz on a few tracks. (CD photography by James Patterson) Find your copy on CD BABY- “HESITATION BLUES-RAMBLING STEVE GARDNER” http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/ramblingstevehardner


(2015) “Times Ain’t Like They Used To Be” (seventh release on HooDoo Records) This recording is a collaboration with artist Bill Steber, Libby Rae Watson, Wes Lee and special guests Washboard Chaz Leary of playing for change and Matt Perrine of Bonerama. This group tours Mississippi and the southern USA and has been chosen by the State of Mississippi to do an AMERICANA MUSIC promotional tour for the state in the spring of 2016 with more than 20 shows scheduled as a part of the VISIT MISSISSIPPI tourism campaign for 2016. (CD Photography by Pat Casey) Find your copy on CD BABY- JERICHO ROAD SHOW VOL 3 http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/jerichoroadshow1


(2010) and WALKING THE DOG (2009) (Blues Cat Records) both recorded in New Orleans by The JERICHO ROAD SHOW international members: Rambling Steve Gardner, Bill Steber, Hisa Nakase, Brandon Armstrong, Bill Benfield, Washborad Chaz Leary and special guest drummer Dudley Tardo and Big Steve Gardner on knives and shouts. The JERICHO ROAD SHOW 2009 release, WALKIN’ THE DOG, was chosen by New Orleans community radio WWOZ as one of the top ten best recordings for the year 2009. (CD Photography by Pat Casey) Find your copy on CD BABY-JERICHO ROAD SHOW “Wooly Bully Express” http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/jerichoroadshow “Walking the Dog” http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/sgwcjls


(2007 Blues Cat Records) recorded in Nashville, the first collaborative studio efforts between Rambling Steve Gardner and Bill Steber with the Jake Leg Stompers who played on several tracks. TN. Artist, Bob Gray did the painting for the cover. The single, “Been On The Job Too Long”, Rambling Steve Gardner’s original tune from the CD JERICHO, was nominated for Best Political Song of the Year (2008) by The Just Plain Folks international music awards, Nashville, TN. Find your copy on CD BABY- “JERICHO” RAMBLING STEVE GARDNER http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/stevegardner2


(2005 Blues Cat Records) was recorded in Tokyo with Rambling Steve Gardner on National Reso-phonic guitars, banjo and washboard with musicians Hisa Nakase on Bass, Yu Ojima on Drums, Macoto Takahashi on Guitar, Shinjiro Mori on Guitar with special guest Big Steve Gardner and Uncle Amos Parker. Big Delta Crossing was produced by Kermit Carvell and Last HERO PRODUCTIONS. (The cover art by artist Jun Hasegawa) Find your copy on CD BABY “Big Delta Crossing”-RAMBLING STEVE GARDNER http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/stevegardner


(2002 Blues Cat Records) recorded in Tokyo on location and is a simi-studio live. The recording was made “old style” with all of the musicians gathered around, playing around a handful of mics, leaning in and back to adjust for “loudness”. There were no over-dubs and almost no second takes. Many thanks to my friends and family who supported me with their prays, encouragement, talents and money. My fondest memories was the release event for this CD in the summer of 2002. My Dad, Big Steve along with our Uncle Amos Parker, flew over to Tokyo to join in musically. They took the stage by storm and had the standing room only crowd of nearly 1000 shucking their shoes, dancing on their chairs and then jumping up onto the stage. Big Steve had them spinning like tops. Red faced young women nearly fainted, older ones just laid themselves out to wait on that trumpet when we left off with “You Are My Sunshine” and headed around to “When The Saints Go Marching In”. Players included Macoto Takahashi, Hisa Nakase, Yu Ojima, Shinjiro Mori, Bill Benfield, David Stenkeen, Jim Ediger, Yutaka Maki, Teruo matsumoto. (Cover Photo Charles Linsay/ Hand Color Steve Gardner/ Back Cover Art Savannah Trusty)

Liner notes Rambling With The Blues is the sound of a guitars and harmonicas echoing the low groans once sung across fields or flung out of church windows, off back porches or tossed about at fish fry's and in hot front rooms. The Blues...stomped out and shouted...beat on drums or played on cane fifes...stories that make us all laugh and cry...music that touches our very soul. This CD, Rambling With The Blues, was made with deep respect for the music and those who played and walked before me. Those who were generous enough to share their music, their lives, their blues with me...they gave me the chance to grow in spirit, to grow in the music and the responsibility to pass on to others the blues...the spirit of the blues. Rambling with the blues. Mississippi on my mind. Steve Gardner Tokyo 2002 Limited Copies-Find yours at one of Rambling Steve’s Live Shows.


The JERICHO ROAD SHOW release, WALKIN’ THE DOG, was chosen by New Orleans community radio WWOZ as one of the top ten best releases for 2009. The single, “Been On The Job Too Long”, Rambling Steve Gardner’s original tune from the CD JERICHO, was nominated for Best Political Song of the Year (2008) by The Just Plain Folks international music awards, Nashville, TN. Rambling Steve Gardner is featured in the DVD/Double CD, Jessie Mae Hemphill and Friends, “Dare You To Do It Again” 219 Records (2004).

★★--Press Quotes and Reviews for Rambling Steve Gardner--★★

..the gut power of Delta blues has had fewer finer exponent than Rambling Steve Gardner.” Michael Pronko-The Japan Times (Japan)

“Rambling Steve Gardner...storyteller, singer, bluesman... blues originale.” Dietmar Hoscher- CONCERTO magazine (Austria)

Steve and his guys bring the best of the back porch to the front of the big stage” Peggy Lou WWOZ 91.3 FM Public Community Radio New Orleans (USA)

"Does it get any better than WALKIN' THE DOG or WOOLY BULLY EXPRESS? You bet it does when you listen to Rambling Steve Gardner's newest CD, HESITATION BLUES". James POE WABG AWESOME AM 960 (USA)

"Some of the coolist music that I have ever heard. Metal guitars and saws. Real blues from Rambling Steve Gardner. He is the real thing." Andreas Dirnberger Blues Promotions (Austria) @ www.bluesfan.at

“Rambling Steve Gardner, rambles the lost highways of Hank Williams and Jimmy Rogers as easily as the flat delta of the Mississippi blues men whose music he carries on so very well.” Norio Higashi Radio Tokyo 954 AM (Japan)

"Mississippi's music ambassador to Japan" Al Brown WMOX Radio 1010 AM (USA) "Rambling Steve Gardner's music is as Mississippi as the cotton fields and the dark, muddy river bearing the same name." C. Sade Turnipseed "Delta Renaissance" WABG-TV (USA)

"Great sound...Just my cup of tea." Barry Ivory “Melting Pot" 99.3 FM (Australia)

"Rambling Steve Gardner, Hesitation Blues, is one of my favorite artist, playing some of my favorite songs on some of my favorite instruments" Thomas Greener "Ragged But Right" KVMR 89.5 FM (USA)

"I hear cotton fields, Tom Sawyer, the Mississippi River and the great American open road in Rambling Steve Gardner's music.” BIG BIKE CRUSING Magazine (Japan)

“Rambling Steve’s arrangements bring something fresh to the roots and blues tradition and that is every blues man’s greatest responsibility.” Ry Beville, Ko-e Magazine (Japan)

Rambling Steve Gardner is available for workshops and seminars on American Roots and Blues music as well as house parties, live performances and concerts.

Visit the Workshops page

More About Rambling 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 came to 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 have traveled around the world from Mississippi to Japan and beyond, where I play American roots and blues-both on stage and in programs on Mississippi and southern culture for educational institution and on tours for the US Department of State.

We are living in turbulent and changing times. But like the old folks used to tell me “... 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.


Hesitation Blues

I Shall Not Be Moved

Shady Grove

Rambling Steve Gardner LIVE IN TOKYO

Walking The Dog

One Meat Ball

Jesus On The Mainline

Been On The Job Too Long

16 Tons

John Harding LIVE

God Don't Never Change

I've Got Love If You Want It

Black Jack David

Summit Road LIVE

Stones In My Passway

Can't You Hear My Savior Calling