Moments after Eric Sardinas comes out onto the stage, the audience can tell that something very special is about to happen. Physically attractive, (think: one part Slash and two parts young Steve Tyler) Sardinas is a lean and intriguing blend of street and the exotic; however, with his hat pulled down low, obscuring much of his face there is definitely a sense of self-deprecation, almost shyness when he asks tentatively “Do y’all mind if I play something acoustic for you?” As he lowers the mike to his guitar, it’s as though he’s actually okay with it if we say yes.
Fortunately though, nobody does and the resulting set which I was able to attend earlier this month at Buddy Guy’s ‘Legends’ in Chicago, was one of the most riveting I have ever seen.
Although some purists might contend that Sardinas’ version of the blues is too heavily based in rock and therefore, technically not really blues at all – this is no mere fusion or pretension; instead, the resulting sound is exciting, different and fresh. It’s like getting an ice cream sundae with loads of toppings you never even thought of – you’ve still got ice cream, but it’s a whole different dessert now and yet still really delicious.
Sardinas hails from the south himself and thereby comes by his devotion to the blues quite naturally. He has drawn his inspiration from time periods as diverse as Robert Johnson and Son House to more recent electric bluesmen like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. Incredibly, Sardinas himself is left-handed but he has now adapted himself to play right-handed guitar which he does with incendiary speed and accuracy.
His fourth album, just released "Eric Sardinas and Big Motor"(he is joined by Patrick Caccia on drums, percussion and backing vocals and Levell Price, bass guitar and backing vocals) provides a varied showcase of what he is capable of both as songwriter and performer. ‘Just like that’ is recorded live and offers a taste of the tension and energy associated with his on stage performances, while ‘Door to Diamonds,’ almost Led Zeppelin in flavor is an excellent driving song with plenty of hooks that will have you pressing the ‘repeat’ button more than once. Personal favorite: ‘As the Crow flies.’ From the very beginning, this song is brilliant. The guitar begins with a sitar-like introduction and gradually swells into something completely different. His voice is all about genuine raw emotion throughout the cd – you won’t have to try hard to hear it – and it is especially convincing when his dobro guitar is echoing the same pain back in tortured agreement.
Tour dates can be found at the official website as well as on his myspace page.