Eric Sardinas is an American blues-rock slide guitarist, singer and songwriter who was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He picked up a guitar at age six and was inspired by the energy of roots music from his mom’s soul, gospel, and early rock n’ roll collection.
Sardinas is noted for his use of the electric resonator guitar and his exciting live performances. Recording for the better part of 15 years now, he continues to blur the lines between traditional blues and his style of blues.
I caught up with Sardinas at his home in California.
Aloha, Eric. We’re looking forward to your two upcoming Big island shows. What can your fans expect from the shows here?
Well, if you love live blues, and you like to rock and roll, then our show is the place to go. We like to cut it loose, a little bit, and you know… shake something loose and hopefully, everyone’s in the spirit to have a good time because that’s why we’re coming to Hawaii.
Tell me about what got you excited about music and what drew you to play the blues?
I started playing slide guitar when I was about eight or nine. There was always music in our home… soul, Motown, R&B and boogie and blues. I immersed myself in it all. My first concert was Elvis Presley. I started out buying blues guitars when I was a kid, and really got into traditional blues, Delta blues, country blues… the acoustic side. I was playing resonator guitars and have a real passion for them. I just decided to push the sound a lot more. I electrified them myself and it went on from there. With my music, I keep the tradition, but also push the limits, too.
What drew you to the resonator guitar?
Just the way they looked and the way they sounded, and the they way sound is my doing. They’re built to my specs. I have about 40+ resonators. They have a sound between a garbage can and heaven. [laughs]
What was it like recording with some of the blues icons like Johnny Winter and Hubert Sumlin?
It’s been an honor to have rubbed shoulders, shared stages and toured with everyone that I’ve been able to. It’s just part of me now. All the greats they’ve disappeared, so it’s nice to be able to have them running through my veins.
What projects are you currently working on?
The new album. The working title is top-secret. You know… sometimes three songs become one and you’ll never really know how things turn out until the very end. It’s all very satisfying when the project’s done to be able to say this is what it’s called. The plan is to have it released this year.
A couple of quick lightning round questions for you… Weirdest concert experience ever?
There was a big show in Malaysia with a bunch of bands like Jethro Tull… a very odd billing. We hadn’t played yet, when all of a sudden the promoters came barging in saying, “We’ve got to go… the police are here, and they’re looking for drugs. They’re quarantined the whole place. We have to go! Everybody has to run!” All the bands got shuffled out and had to evacuate the arena. There were guys with machine guns too. When we’re standing outside, this lady came running up to me and said she was my biggest fan… “I burn your CDs for all my friends.” [laughs]Perfect.
Your first guitar?
A Hondo Classical Junior guitar with nylon strings.
What’s a normal day like for you?
I like to drive in my ‘58 Cadillac when I get a chance. If I don’t, I’m normally writing and playing my guitars. I like to relax when I’m off the road and use a big bar of soap. Nice.
Most unexpected thing you bring with you on tour?
I tend to over-pack and bring multiple hats and a few pairs of boots.
The three discs you’d bring with you to a desert island?
The Robert Johnson boxed set, Houses of the Holy by Led Zeppelin, and Are You Experienced by Jimi Hendrix.
What else would you like to share?
It’s a pleasure to come back to Hawaii and I’m looking forward to having a great time with everyone. I hope everyone’s ready to have a great time as well.
Legendary slide blues rock guitarist Eric Sardinas and band will be playing two Big Island shows on Saturday February 23 at the Honoka’a Peoples Theatre, and on Sunday February 24 at the Hilo Town Tavern for a joint-jumpin’ dance party.
If You Go
When: February 23, 2019
Where: Honoka’a Peoples Theater, 45-3574 Mamane St. Honoka’a
Admission: $35. General; $55. Gold Circle
Doors: 6:00 pm Show: 7:00 pm
When: February 24, 2019
Where: Hilo Town Tavern, 168 Keawe Street – Hilo
Admission: $30 General and $55 Gold Circle, Limited Seating Close to Stage
Doors: 6:30 pm Show: 7:00 pm
Big island Ticket Outlets & Information
Online information, tickets and Gold Circle: www.bluesbearhawaii.com or call: 808-896-4845
Kona Music Exchange – Kailua-Kona; Kiernan’s Music – Old Town Kainaliu; Waimea General Store – Parker Square, Kamuela; Top Stitch – Honoka’a; Hilo Town Tavern, Hilo Ukuleles & Guitars, Hilo Music Exchange – Hilo; Rogers Guitars, Kea’au.
Steve Roby is a music journalist, best-selling author, and from San Francisco. He’s been featured in the NY Times, Rolling Stone, and Billboard Magazine. Roby is also the Managing Editor of Big Island Music Magazine.