“This is my life and it means a lot to me,” he said.
Understand that Gardner is an experienced stage and film actor who brings his theatrical sensibility to GAJB’s performances. He’s performed in more than 75 stage plays. Gardner draws artistic inspiration from all aspects of life and channels his creative energy toward audiences. Being in the limelight is his comfort zone.
“All my work is for those moments before an audience,” he said. “Making people happy, hearing the cheering and touching someone is my enjoyment. It’s what I feel I was put here in life to do.”
He described live performance as being the ultimate creative outlet because it only happens once and your physical presence is required.
“You don’t get 50 chances for the right take like when you’re recording music,” Gardner said. “It’s a sense of legitimacy you don’t achieve anywhere else except when performing live.”
Gardner marshals powerful sonic force in his band. John Givens plays violin, Josh Benson is on drums, Jon Goodell’s the lead guitarist, Tim Gregory alternates between steel guitar and mandolin with Gabe Matthews on miscellaneous percussion. Gardner’s the lead vocalist and plays rhythm guitar.
“The whole band is Oklahoma born and bred,” Gardner said. “I lived in Michigan until I was 5 but was definitely raised here. GAJB is a product of the region and that’s something I love about it.”
The band members are all friends and they share recreational interests.
“Josh and Gabe have known each other since they were babies,” Gardner said. “We’ve met through mutual friends and from being drinking buddies.”
GAJB started with just Gardner and Matthews two years ago. The vision was for 20 musicians playing together but that wasn’t practical.
“We get heckled a lot for not having a jug player,” he said. “Our sound just wasn’t going in that direction but we are definitely a skiffle band.”