When Thomas Gardner Jr. plays his guitar, you see a tattoo with the name “Evelyn” facing outward from his inner left arm. This is a tribute to his late mother, who put a guitar in his hands at age 10 and began his lifelong love with playing music.
As the lead guitarist and harmony-singing vocalist in various rock bands growing up in his hometown of Warwick, Rhode Island, Gardner was encouraged by his bandmates to write and sing his own songs. His first attempt in 2006, the catchy pop-rock tune “Summertime in Rhode Island” which he sang with his band Someday Providence, caught the attention of local radio stations and still plays in heavy rotation on their summer playlists.
Gardner made the move to Los Angeles and immediately got an ongoing gig as lead guitarist for a touring rock band, while continuing to write his own folk-style music that had influences like Neil Young, Nick Drake, and Paul Simon. He left that band to focus on his own harmony-driven folk project, The Borrower’s Debt. The new quartet quickly rose up the LA music scene ranks, opening for acts like The Monkees, The Lone Bellow, and Nicki Bluhm. Their album also caught the attention of writer/director Cameron Crowe who sent an email saying “Love the music! Your fan, C.” After the band dissolved in 2013, Gardner started his long-awaited solo project, finally stepping to center stage.
Gardner Jr’s solo work shines in “Songs From The Floor,” his EP releasing Dec 6th, 2016. Already known by his fans for his masterful guitar work, memorable melodies, and love of tight harmonies, his lyrics-forward work shines in the folk-country blend he brings to the new album. Influences cited by the artist include country greats like Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, John Prine, and Todd Snider.
In fact, his track “Settlin' Down,” was featured in American Songwriter Magazine’s Lyric Contest. The award winning lyrics printed in the magazine include, “When I die I only ask ya please/Spread my ashes on the seven seas/I can’t spend forever six feet underground/‘Cause I’m not the kind to be settlin’ down.”
Photographer: Desiree Stone