Mark Lee Gardner has been performing the historic music of the American West for more than thirty years. As a "living history" educator, he has re-created the authentic music of the Santa Fe Trail, the battlefields of the Civil War, the cow camps of the Southwest, and Old West outlaws such as Billy the Kid and Jesse James. Using vintage instruments and historic playing styles, he has entertained audiences for countless museums, historic sites, symposiums, college classes, and elementary schools. His music has been featured in several National Park Service films and PBS documentaries.
Mark often performs with music historian and multi-instrumentalist Rex Rideout, and together they have produced several music CDs, including the award-winning Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys for the Museum of New Mexico Press. Their music "is precisely what your ancestors heard, what they danced to," writes author and musician Jon Chandler of their popular release, Frontier Favorites: Old Time Music of the Wild West. "It's a musical journey to the mid-19th century that transcends cultural nostalgia; this music is realistic enough in style and content to have been played and sung in its exact form on the Western frontier....It is rollicking, it is exhilarating, and most of all, it is real."
Vance Lee Gardner, Mark’s son (pictured with Mark above), plays fiddle, and you can often see them performing together for special events at Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site, Colorado Springs.