Blues-rocker Sardinas turns the resonator all the way up to 2013
January 17, 2013
CRYSTAL BAY, Nev. – Musical categories blues and rock can be interpreted as broadly as the genre blues-rock. Depending on the listener’s camp, either side considers one a subsidiary of the other.
Pure and paradoxical, Eric Sardinas’ slide guitar style is an extreme example of both, each difficult and easy to define.
“The blues-rock and what I do with that tradition is pretty much a rule-breaking thing: I like to border the lines and walk in between them,” Sardinas told Lake Tahoe Action. “It’s definitely a blues-rock experience that I like to show what I have to say within the music, and I like to push the music forward for myself as well.”
What he calls a “power trio” has constantly been on the road since Sardinas’ fifth record, “Sticks and Stones,” released December 2011. Last summer his band played in the Crystal Bay Casino Red Room and on Friday, Jan. 18, it moves to the larger Crown Room for a nonticketed concert.
The drummer is Bryan Keeling. Bassist Levell Price is at his homestate Mississippi convalescing from appendicitis. Filling in is in-demand Los Angeles session player Ben White, not to be confused with Bukka White, a Delta slide guitar pioneer from the early 20th century.
“I wish (Bukka White) was the replacement; I’d be in the crowd,” joked Sardinas, a musicologist, who says he is influenced by myriad shades of blues.
“Anything from Blind Willie McTell to Tampa Red, when it comes to picking anything from traditional Delta blues, from Charlie Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson to hilly country stuff like John Lee (Hooker) and to Texas stuff like Lightnin’ Hopkins, and the list goes on. And especially electric blues when there’s collaboration, the folk and the Piedmont in Texas to the country and the Mississippi stuff that got electrified and moved to Chicago with Elmore James, and Muddy (Waters) and Howlin’ (Wolf) and all that energy came together.”
Born in St. Petersburg, Fla., Sardinas began playing guitar – and slide guitar, at that – when he was just 6 years old. He said he was exposed to a lot of music in his home and he “started imitating everything I heard.”
Unlike fellow left-handers Otis Rush, Albert King and Coco Montoya, who played their instruments upside-down, Sardinas simply learned to play right-handed.
“I really think it does effect the way I approach the guitar,” he said. “I’m a finger picker, so there’s a lot more (power). Because I’m self-taught there’s a lot of unorthodox technique I use when I play slide.”
After living in Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area, Sardinas has settled in Los Angeles, although mostly he’s on the road, playing 280-300 shows a year, traveling with two wood-bodied resonators, electrified and sounding like avant-garde Mississippi Fred McDowell.