What could be grittier than deep and dirty blues slide guitar? Deep and dirty Blues slide played on a resonator guitar of course –and who better to hear it from than Florida’s finest? Eric Sardinas is one of this instruments best exponents and at Bonn Harmonie recently he was playing just as mean as hell…
Bistro tables for an Eri Sardinas concert? It was a sign that space was expected in the audience, and truth to tell the competition for attention this week in Bonn is hot. Up the road at Bruckenforum the legendary Metal Rock God Michael Schenker was playing this very evening – and tomorrow Layla Zoe will be at this same venue with local heroes Baums Bluesbenders – both will be chasing pretty much the same audience that Eric Sardinas is chasing tonight.
By the time those splendidly bell bottom flared trousers of Mr Sardinas and his long time bassman Levell Price swish onto the stage though there is a healthily filled auditorium, and it only takes a half minute of that raucous scratchy yet mesmerizing resonator steel beat to have the feet of those seated tapping and hands clapping. For those not schooled in this wonderful guitar here is a quick lowdown on all things resonatorish:
“A resonator (or resophonic) guitar is an acoustic guitar whose sound is produced by one or more spun metal cones (resonaors) instead of the wooden soundboard (guitar top/face). Resonator guitars were originally designed to be louder than regular acoustic guitars, which were overwhelmed by horns and percussion instruments in dance orchestras…The resonator guitar was developed by John Dopyera, seeking to produce a guitar that would have sufficient volume to play alongside brass and reed instruments, in response to a request from steel guitar player George Beauchamp. Dopyera experimented with configurations of up to four resonator cones, and cones composed of several different metals”
So much for the theory. Here at Bonn Harmonie we are hearing the practice. Having managed to come up with a way to compete with dance orchestras the designers had to come up with a way to compete with Electric guitars and that was by adding pick-ups to the resonator. Thus was the Eric Sardinas style born.
In fact, such is the force of his playing that Sardinas has a pick seemingly duck-taped to his right index finger and mixed with his thumb pick he uses it to hammer out the sound like a musical sculptor -rough and raw hewn. It’s a perfect weapon to take on the rough n raw sounds created by Muddy Waters and Muddy’s ‘Can’t Be Satisfied’ is a highlight of the evening as Sardinas almost explodes out of the speakers when he his slide whizzes over the fretboard like an express train picking up speed. It’s also a perfect sound for Sardinas’ own classic ‘Get down to Whiskey’ with it’s dirty and lowdown drunken slur.
Even the ‘quieter’ moments, like Robert Johnson’s ‘Come on in my Kitchen’ burn with intensity under the steely sound. In an interview with General Anzeiger’s Cem Akalin Sardinas revealed that the songs are never quite the same twice live, always they capture the energy of the moment they are being played and that energy is always different. Sounds complicated? Hearing it though it all falls perfectly into place.
Playing live is something special for the enigmatic man from the Sunshine State. “What was the very first concert you saw?” he asks several people in the audience. His own he revealed wasn’t Muddy Waters, or BB King, or even Eric Clapton. It was he said Elvis Presley, and he proved that Elvis could rock like the best by playing ‘Trouble’.
If Elvis made the first impression on Sardinas then it was Johnny Winter who made one of the most lasting impressions, and he dedicated ‘Bad Boy Blues’ to the late and great Man.
The evening was an energizing mix of old classics and future ones from the new, and excellen, CD ‘Bomerang’. At one point Sardinas smiled out from under the shadow of his trademark leather Stetson and told us that “Music is my air. I can’t live without it”. I feel very privileged to have breathed that same air with Eric Sardinas. Somewhere amongst the credits on his CD’s you will find the words ‘Respect Tradition’. When you catch Eric Sardinas live you know it’s more than just a catchphrase for the man.