The Arts Company presents

Bill Steber: Southern Blues Photography + Music

Continuing through October 28

Join us for a series of

AfterWork Thursday Art Talks

with Bill Steber


 Jack Owens and Bud Spires on Jack's porch in Bentoina MS

Opening during Southern Living Magazine’s 50th Anniversary celebration happening during First Saturday Art Crawl in September, Bill Steber’s Southern Blues Photography + Music is an appropriate time to showcase how he has documented blues culture in Mississippi for over 20 years. Some of his photographs have been shown at The Arts Company in one-man exhibitions during that time - chronicling the state’s blues musicians, juke joints, churches, river baptisms, hoodoo practitioners, traditional farming methods, folk traditions, and other significant traditions that gave birth to or influenced the blues. “Many pieces in the exhibit were first seen 20 years ago. What I want to do now is go back and look at it with fresh eyes,” states artist Bill Steber. “This is the work that I’ve done representing the Mississippi blues culture, and almost everybody in the photographs are all gone and a lot of the places are no longer there physically. I have a deep respect for the people that created this culture, and I hope the photographs bring this world back to life with the stories and live music that depict what it sounded like.”

 This exhibition includes some of Steber’s favorite classic photographs, and also adds the musical element that he and some of his musician friends have continued to develop since then. He has selected blues musicians from whom he learned their style and techniques directly during Fresh Art Friday. “When we first exhibited Bill’s Blues Series photographs in the late 1990s, the focus was on the classic images of quintessential American music produced by black musicians in Mississippi,” remarked Anne Brown, owner of The Arts Company. “The photographs represent the music, lifestyles and culture of the famed Highway 61, the Mississippi Blues Trail, that runs through the heart of the state. Bill has spent 24 years documenting the people and places in this series of photographs — but that was only the beginning of his love affair with the blues. We now want to present more of his artistic legacy.” 


Bill Steber has deep roots in Middle Tennessee, stretching back to a time before TN was a state. Steber's grandfather, Bob Steber. was a sports columnist for the Tennessean for over 40 yrs and his father, Bill Sr., was a serious amateur photographer. Steber's interest in photography began in elementary school as he began using his father’s cameras. A resulting image taken at age 11 eventually became Steber's first published photo. After college at Middle Tennessee State University, Steber spent the next 15 years making a name for himself in journalism, working as a staff photojournalist for the Tennessean in Nashville and winning dozens of regional and national photography awards. Currently, Steber is a freelance photographer living in Murfreesboro, TN. His editorial work is published in regional, national and international magazines. He has plans to publish numerous books from the Mississippi Blues project, combining the still photos with extensive interviews, writings, audio and video collected in the field to create a comprehensive survey of Mississippi blues culture that represents more than a decade of the region’s history. In addition to his photography, Steber makes music with The Jake Leg Stompers, the Hoodoo Men, and The Jericho Road Show. 

About the Band:

The Jake Leg Stompers

The Jake Leg Stompers present Pre-War Roots Music on period instruments in lively, authentic styles. The Stompers capture the rebellious spirit of pre-1941 American music from Memphis Jug bands to Appalachian Hillbilly to Fats Waller when folk music was still considered dangerous. "The Jake Leg Stompers resurrect the rent-party vibe of music in feast-or-famine America between the World Wars, performing with joyous abandon. JLS sing and swing traditional songs on traditional instruments—washboard, banjo, trombone et. al.—and guzzle tradition like vintage port from a Bama-Jelly jar, giving the rest of us a reason to recollect our musical inheritance in all its vital glory.”-The Nashville Scene