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MP3 Micah - The Backside of Sunrise

Island Folk

11 MP3 Songs
FOLK: Modern Folk, COUNTRY: Bluegrass

Micah J. Gardner is a singer/songwriter who hails from the Florida Keys. Unlike so many of the musicians in the local music scene, Micah has worked tirelessly to define himself through his original music for nearly a decade. “I’ve never been afraid to learn a long list of cover tunes, but the most flattering compliment is for locals and tourists alike to request my original songs show after show”. Although a great deal has changed in the Keys since Buffett built his fortune with boat drinks and blown out flip-flops, Micah has bridged the gap with songs reflecting on the recent rash of hurricanes, famous fishing captains, infamous sharks, and, of course, island women. Drawing inspiration from reggae, bluegrass, pop, and folk artists such as Keller Williams, Sublime, Jack Johnson, John Prine, and the Grateful Dead, Micah enjoys the freedom to blend these styles to create his own form of island music.

Although Micah started playing guitar at 14, his musical career really began at 27, when he helped create the Ft. Lauderdale based high-energy pop, funk, and reggae band named Carnegie Tide. In a music scene that was dominated by dark, angry, power-chord driven rock and roll, Carnegie Tide blew in like a warm ocean breeze with a sound that was upbeat and fun, blending reggae riffs with a Caribbean soul. Carnegie Tide enjoyed success beyond anyone’s expectations, largely due to Micah’s inviting lyrics and sincere vocals. Carnegie Tide ultimately released 2 full length CDs. However, 3 years later the band members began to grow apart. The creative edge that separated Carnegie Tide from other bands began to dull. Although proud of their accomplishments, the energy had dissipated and the writing became complacent. Without much more than a sigh, Micah left as Carnegie Tide’s front man to strike out on his own; drifting down to the inspirational Florida Keys in a beat-up Ford van with a mutt named Pepper riding shotgun.

Micah’s professional experiences have been extremely positive. As a front man/vocalist, Micah has been welcomed to the stage at the well-known House of Blues in Los Angeles on the Sunset Strip, Myrtle Beach, and Orlando. He has warmed up the stage for the enduring acts of KC and the Sunshine Band and Kool and the Gang. At Sunfest, a waterfront music and art festival held annually in West Palm Beach, Micah shared the main stage with Lenny Kravitz and Sugar Ray. As a solo artist, Micah has played the Islamorada Bay Jam music festival for the last 4 years alongside many of the local Keys musicians. At the Celebration of the Sea in 2005, Micah was invited to perform his original songs, warming up the stage for Chuck Berry and Steven Tyler

In May of 2002, Micah released his first solo CD; “Days Go By”. The audience response had encouraged him to continue writing, playing and traveling. His warm and eclectic style, compelling original songs and his skill to play popular and obscure cover tunes earned him a local following in the Keys. Although Micah has certainly found a niche playing music at a local level, his drive to succeed and his natural creativity led him to begin his most ambitious project yet, to record a CD that would eventually be titled “The Backside of Sunrise”. Most of the songs on Backside were written while sitting on the dock after many late night gigs. With influences drawn from his summers in Ashville, NC and his winters in the Florida Keys, Micah captures a different moment of time and travel with each song. Micah’s music is unique and eclectic. His songs are not simply laid back beach tunes, but they are often a musical journey with a woven message that will encourage thought and reflection.

Micah’s approach to life, music, and happiness is simplistic, yet not without complications. Gone are the days that a person can survive in Keys as a beach bum or a simple fisherman.
Hard work, long hours, and continuing to write, record, and play shows night after night will take its toll on most people. However, Micah is among the survivors in the Keys, those that can live the dream, go to work in sandals, sunglasses and an aloha shirt, and come home to a kayak, a happy dog, and a cold beer.

Micah Gardner
Micah Gardner
Q and A with Micah J. Gardner

Where did you grow up? “I started out in West Covina, California then my family moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida”.

How old were you when you first started playing guitar? “I picked up an old Epiphone acoustic guitar that my mom had laying around when I was about 14. Her brothers Mark and Steve play music and are my earliest inspiration. I gradually taught myself a few basic cords by playing along with my tapes and albums”.

What were the first songs that you learned? “I learned two Buffett tunes; Captain and the Kid and He Went to Paris. I also learned Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin and the intro to Zeppelin’s Over the Hill and Far Away”.

What were your other career pursuits before you started playing guitar full-time? “I graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in education and history. Shortly thereafter, I sought a scenery change and I ended up in Maine. I eventually taught elementary school in Kennebunk, Maine for a year then moved back to South Florida to become a history teacher at Cardinal Gibbons High School, where I taught for 4 years”.

What are your favorite pastimes? “Whenever possible, I try to enjoy the laidback lifestyle of the Florida Keys. I like cruising around the back country in an old 14ft McKee Craft with Pepper dog, writing and working on songs with my brother Greg, getting out on the ocean to freedive and spearfish, giving kayak tours out of Robbie’s Marina around the mangroves or ocean side to Indian Key, and generally hanging out with like-minded friends”.

What are your musical influences? “I draw inspiration from John Prine, Bob Marley, Dan Hicks, Jack Johnson, Dave Feder, and Keller Williams. Also, the Grateful Dead, Steve Goodman, Bradly Nowell, Jeff Tweedy, and of course Jimmy Buffett”.

What CD’s have you been listening to recently? “Anthology of Steve Goodman, Stadium Arcadium by the Chili Peppers, The Reason Why by Dave Feder, the Curious George Soundtrack, and Dan Reeder”.

What are some of your goals as a musician? “I would like to travel, put together a successful tour, and reach out with my music beyond the boundaries of the Florida Keys. Earning respect amongst my fans and other musicians as a true singer/songwriter has always been a goal. I also would like to carry a message of conservation and environmental ethic; we are only on this planet a short time and we need to recognize our impact on the delicate balance of nature”.

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