Bill Steber comes from a large musical family that has been in Tennessee since before it was a state. His earliest musical memories are of listening to the Grand Ole Opry on his grandmother’s kitchen radio in rural Hickman Co., Tennessee, just 50 miles and 100 years south of Nashville, TN.
Opry stars like Minnie Pearl and Del Reeves seemed like family because they practically were. Steber’s great grandfather, Wash Moss worked for and lived on land owned by Minnie Pearl’s father and Steber himself worked for country legend and Hickman Co. resident Del Reeves as a teenager.
The love of roots music permeated Steber’s being growing up and set him on a path from an early age toward devoting his life to it’s promulgation and preservation. He taught himself Carter Family tunes on the mountain dulcimer starting at age 12, following with proficiency on the harmonica, guitar, tenor banjo, mandolin, ukulele, saw, kazoo and jug.
Steber founded the roots/jug band group The Jake Leg Stompers in 2004, releasing 4 albums to date, as well as traveling the world performing with Steve Gardner as a founding member of the Jericho Road Show with whom he has appeared on 5 albums. His latest project is the Hoodoo Men, an electric blues/roots duo, produced by Grammy-nominated musician Luther Dickinson.
In addition to his wide-ranging touring schedule and numerous musical awards from traditional music festival contests like Uncle Dave Macon Days, Steber is an internationally known music researcher and documenter, garnering awards and grants from the Ernst Haas Foundation, The Alicia Patterson Foundation, The Morrie Camhi Foundation, and he is the 2011 recipient of the coveted “Keeping the Blues Alive” award presented by the Blues Foundation in Memphis, TN.
Although Steber has performed in numerous countries (England, Scotland, Germany, Austria, Japan and India), he considers Nashville and Middle Tennessee his musical and spiritual home base. Steber not only grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opry, he spent many years backstage chronicling the Opry, befriending it’s members and absorbing it’s history.
Bill Steber comes from a place where music is not simply entertainment and distraction, but a way of life. And like his namesake great-grandfather “Fiddler” Bill Beard, who performed for barn dances around Middle Tennessee in the late 19th century, he understands how to breathe life into traditional music and make it part of the lives of others as well.
Mr. Killakeys….. Steve Wilkerson
Steve is a piano pounding musician that tours between Nashville and the Florida-Alabama Line. Many claim on hearing and seeing him perform, that he “must be the lost son of piano wizard Jerry Lee Lewis,” as he sings while pounding out a thundering boogie-woogie.
Born on a soybean farm in Daleville, Mississippi (the same town as the father of country music, Jimmie Rodgers), Steve Wilkerson learned a bit about sprouting things from the Mississippi mud where he split his time growing up between farm work and his grandmother’s upright piano where he says that he pounded his left hand so hard that the keys literally “fell off”, adding that “my grandmother wasn’t none too happy about that either!”
On leaving the farm behind, he has since taken his piano to stages all over the country, playing the Grand Ole Opry, in Nashville, the King Biscuit Blues Festival, in Helena, Arkansas as well as an untold number of smaller festivals, bbq kitchens, juke joints, taverns, and roadhouses from the east coast to the west.
His style infuses the classic rockabilly of Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins with the blues and gospel based boogie woogie of Ray Charles and Pinetop Perkins.
He’s also been music director and bandleader for groups featuring the Amazing Jimmy Mayes (drummer for Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Reed, Pinetop Perkins) and George Cummings (Dr. Hook), as well as a sideman for a touring sideman for the nationally noted and acclaimed, Honey Island Swamp Band and John Rich Band (Big and Rich).
Steve Wilkerson is also a singer-songwriter-arranger and multi-instrumentalist. His 2013 recording “Made in Mississippi”, garnered a great deal of FM and AM radio airplay throughout the Southeast. Steve not only wrote and arranged all of the songs, he played nearly all of the instruments used on the recording including: piano, drums, bass, organ, mandolin and guitar as well as providing the vocals.
Steve has been a featured artist on the “Porch Sessions” (Internet TV) and is a regular guest on radio and recording sessions in the southeast.
His current record “Made in Mississippi” is available on Itunes, Spotify, and the like online.
J.P. Mathes II
J.P. Mathes is a banjo and guitar performer from the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee in the U.S.A. and began playing banjo as a child. During high school J.P. was selected to join the world renowned East Tennessee State University (ETSU) Bluegrass Pride Band where he toured extensively, and he received both undergraduate and graduate degrees from that institution. As an international entertainer J.P. has performed across the world. Performance highlights include; numerous performances at The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, The Smithsonian Folk Festival in D.C., The John F. Kennedy Center, NATO headquarters in Belgium, and 17 tours of Japan just to mention a few. J.P. was formerly Associate Professor of Bluegrass & Traditional Music and director of student ensembles at Hazard College in Kentucky, USA. While teaching in Kentucky J.P. developed a unique online certificate program in digital audio recording. In 2015 he was presented The Award for Innovation and Technology in Higher Education by the International Conference on College Teaching in Florida, USA. J.P. is also a producer, songwriter, and recording engineer who is currently based out of Tokyo Japan.
Fiddling Leona is a performer, vocalist, and fiddler from Tokyo, Japan. Fiddling Leona has been living and performing in Tennessee, USA since 2006. She was the first international student to graduate from East Tennessee State University with credentials in Bluegrass & Traditional Music. Leona was also the first Asian artist to become an official performing artist with the Country Music Association (CMA) in Nashville, Tennessee. Leona has performed at music festivals and venues across the United States, Europe, and Japan. In 2015 and 2016 Fiddling Leona was selected by the Washington, D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival to represent Japan in the annual national cherry blossom festival. Leona has recorded three popular solo albums for Mochi Records. In 2016 Fiddling Leona graduated with an additional degree in Digital Audio Recording from The Kentucky School of Traditional Music. Leona is also a producer, composer, and songwriter working both in Tokyo and Tennessee. Check her out at www.fiddlingleona.com.
Rambling Steve Gardner
Rambling Steve Gardner, Mississippi Roots and Bluesman, storyteller, solo artist, co-founder of the JERICHO ROAD SHOW, National Reso-phonic Guitar featured artist, grew up near Pocahontas, MS. and is based in Tokyo, Japan. He tours in the USA, Europe, Southeast Asia and Japan, conducts workshops and promotes American Music and Culture in schools, universities and from time to time for the Cultural Affairs Section of U.S. Dept. of State (American Shelf Program).
Rambling Steve Gardner plays original, acoustic Americana, roots and country blues music, finger picking and slide on National Reso-phonic guitars, banjo and harmonica. You know, Big Leg Acoustic Stuff.
MIZ SALLY’S YELLOW CAT SONG BOOK (2017 BLUES CAT RECORDS) , his 8th musical recording project, is a 19 track musical DVD featuring his mom, MIZ SALLY’S dementia drawings, a musical CD along with a 44 page booklet and poster. The project is designed for families as well as to offer caregivers a tool in their day-to-day care duties.
Rambling Steve Gardner’s recordings on BLUES CAT RECORDS include: MIZ SAL- LY’S YELLOW CAT SONG BOOK (2017), HESITATION BLUES (2012), JERICHO (2007), Big Delta Crossing (2005), Rambling With The Blues (2002). Releases with the JERICHO ROAD SHOW on BLUES CAT RECORDS & HOO-DOO Records: Times Ain’t Like They Used to Be (2014), Wooly Bully Express (2010), Walking the Dog (2009)
Rambling Steve Gardner is featured in the DVD/Double CD, Jessie Mae Hemphill and Friends, “Dare You To Do It Again” 219 Records (2004).
The JERICHO ROAD SHOW (2009) 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.
To date, Rambling Steve Gardner has played more than 61 shows in the earthquake recovery zones of Fukushima and Ishinomaki, Tohoku as well as events for schools, recreation centers and adults sponsored by Japanese Government Organizations, Taylor Anderson Foundation, private groups as well as the Tokyo American Club. (These events were in support of ongoing rebuilding and recovery efforts after the devastating quake and tsunami which hit Japan Mach 11, 2011.)
Rambling Steve Gardner and the JERICHO ROAD SHOW traveled for two months, representing the State of Mississippi in 2016 on the first ever state sponsored AMERICANA MUSIC IN MISSISSIPPI Tour. The purpose of the tour was to bring Americana music to small and large towns across the state with more than 30 shows played for locals as well as groups of tourist from as far away as Japan and Australia, Boys and Girls Clubs and facilities for the elderly.
Sonnyboy & O’Shea
Felix Sonnyboy and Michael O’Shea play traditional Irish-American roots music on fiddle, guitar and banjo. Michael is from Ireland and is champion whistle player as well as award winning Irish fiddler. Felix is from the USA but lived, toured and recorded in Ireland for nearly 10 years.