Michael Gardner’s interest in music came from his family’s history as singers and musicians. With his brother Phillip, they soon started playing with local bands and honing their craft in clubs and local events. Michael’s songwriting abilities grew quickly and the results was (along with Phillip, who’s also a great songwriter) writing and singing the majority of the songs on the Gardeners of Soule’s four CDs. Kenny Soule rounds out the trio of musical songwriting talent. Kenny’s collaboration with Michael and Phillip has led to the almost 50 songs that you will experience on the four Gardners of Soule CDs.
If you ask Michael Gardner his earliest memories, he won’t recall for you birthday candles or Christmas stockings. He’ll tell you about Chet Atkins. And he’ll tell you that while older cousins dashed for the open field to choose sides when his uncles took a break from picking and singing at family gatherings, he would sneak back inside to touch their guitars. The guitars were calling him.
Before Gardners of Soule was the rock power trio, PKM. On stage PKM packs a musical punch of unparalleled power, foot stomping punch with sing-a long melodies. You’ve never seen three players rock like these guys. But if you want to see the group’s true virtuosity, look for them at one of Dean Markley’s clinics, where Michael, Pee Wee and Kenny play their unique brand of rock and talk about their instruments and how they used them. Michael wrote for the band, and most of the material on PKM’s debut album, Rock Erotica, was written by him or his brother Phillip. Rock Erotica seems a long way from Chet Atkins, or Sam and Dave, or Duane Allman, or Return to Forever. And it is. After all this was the 1980’s. But Michael has learned from each and made that learning his own. Besides, Chet can tell you that it doesn’t have to be pretentious; Sam and Dave can tell you that music is feeling; Duane can tell you about touch and Chick about technique. Michael Gardner can tell you what it’s like to have it in your bones. Bands Michael has opened for in his 42+ years as a professional musician include the following: Bob Seger, Steppenwolf, Edgar Winter, Cheap Trick, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Blue Oyster Cult, Greg Kihn Band, Robin Thompson Band, Leon Russell, Ozzie Osborne, Joan Jett, REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, Mother’s Finest, Little Feat, Stryper, Wet Willie, 38 Special, and played on stage with Charlie Daniels Band, and as a member of The Steve Walsh Band (Kansas) , George Thorogood, Marshall Tucker, Spyder, Mitch Easter, REM and B-52’s.
But the songs Michael had written brought him in touch with his rock-n-roll sensibilities, and together with Pee Wee Watson and Kenny Soule, formed PKM in 1981.
By the late 70’s Michael had seen a bit of the country, and the world. Upon arriving in London after an overseas tour for American kids in Saudi Arabia, he me KK Black, a singer who was making a name for himself on the English pop and new wave scene. The two teamed up but soon decided that Los Angeles, not London, was the place to be. While waiting in LA for immigration officials to clear Black, Michael worked hard writing new material. But he had never been as influenced by new wave as Black, and LA’s new wave scene was even less inspiring than London’s. So not long after Black arrived the two decided to make an amiable split.
Michael’s ease in adapting and embracing divergent musical styles has always been a mark of his talent. But he’s never been one for quick fix fads. His soul roots evolved in the 70’s with second generation blues artists like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Johnny Winter and Duane Allman. Later he sharpened his technical skills in fusion bands that played Chick Corea, George Duke, and Santana where he learned about harmony and theory through self study and by working with Kenny Hareston (Keyboardist for Cyndi Lauper).