The Rave, Milwaukee, WI
April 12th, 2005
Charlie Daniels once wrote a song called “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.” In it, Charlie sings about the Devil and some guy named Johnny having a duel with fiddles to earn the reward of either a fiddle of gold or Johnny’s soul. We all know that Johnny ends up winning that famous fiddle fight between the two of them, but the Devil must have wound up going back to Hell and taking some serious guitar lessons after it was all over. This is how I would describe the guitar playing of Eric Sardinas.
Even though the crowd had paid to see world-class guitarist Steve Vai and his band featuring bassist Billy Sheehan and Tony MacAlpine, Eric completely won the Milwaukee crowd over by the end of his first number entitled “I’m Worried” while opening for such legendary musicians. Half way thru the second song, which was a ten- minute instrumental number sounding very “Voodoo Chile”-like, Eric did something that I haven’t seen done before, at least not on purpose. He had the amps turned off and played with just the natural sound of his guitar for a portion of the song. Eric then played “Liar’s Dice Blues” before playing “As the Crow Flies,” where he has his amps turned off for a second time in the middle of a song. This produced more of a “been there, done that” moment from an otherwise enthusiastic crowd.
Sardinas is heavily influenced by the Delta Blues and is not a traditional rock guitarist by any means. However, his ability to take a traditional riff, and craft it in a way so it appeals to contemporary guitar enthusiasts, puts him in a category of guitar masters such as Hendrix, Vaughan, and Clapton who were also able to translate guitar sounds beyond one musical genre stereotype. The advertisement sticker on his latest release, “Black Pearls,” may have said it best with “A spectacular collision of blues and rock!” For more information on Eric’s biography and influences, visit www.Ericsardinas.com.
Eric’s on stage presence mimics his fiery playing style. He was dressed in a black cowboy hat with a brim that curved down to his nose and the back of his neck. His long, black, curly hair and pointy sideburns were an appropriate mix with his open-sleeved, black velvet shirt and shiny, silver Dobro guitar. Black and white tie-died pants draped over his rugged black boots.
After seeing Sardinas three previous times, this night I saw a man who was much more comfortable working the crowd and moving around on a full stage. The rhythm section of Paul Loranger on bass and Mike Dupke on drums provided a steady beat and allows Eric to do what he does best. Several people in the crowd commented on how clear and tight the band sounded.
Eric finished the set with “Down In The Bottom” that featured a great Dupke drum solo in the middle. After the solo, Sardinas returned shirtless and proceeded to jump off of the stage, climb over the crowd barricade while playing guitar, and walk thru the entire crowd. The song concluded with Eric climbing back up on stage and playing his Dobro with a bottle of beer used as his slide, just as he does in the Berghoff beer commercial that is currently airing on television.
The highlight of the evening happened during before the drum solo when Eric actually had a guitar duel with, well, himself. He did this by playing a new riff, jumping forward and turning to face where he had been standing only to play a matching riff. He continued repeating this move much to the delight of the crowd. This self-made duel was both creative and impressive to say the least. I was left to ponder if Charlie Daniels fiddlin’ Devil could have pulled that duel off.
- Eric Sardinas – Vocals/Guitar
- Paul Loranger – Bass
- Mike Dupke – Drums
- I’m Worried
- Liar’s Dice Blues
- As The Crow Flies
- Down In the Bottom . . .
- Drum Solo
- . . . Down In the Bottom
Official Eric Sardinas website: http://www.ericsardinas.com/