The term "blues-rock" brings with it a connotation of a blues artist "selling out" in order to make more money or a rock band blaring heavy riffs with a thinly veiled strain of blues. A worse offense is that many of these rock artists have little or no knowledge of the blues in its historical context or its mythological roots.
That is certainly not true in the case of Eric Sardinas. At six, his first love was Delta blues, as it "was the thrill of hearing one person playing the guitar and generating the energy of five - I loved the sheer strength and heart of a single player." Just as unusual was citing his first influences as Barbecue Bob, Charley Patton, and Bukka White, then Elmore James, Muddy Waters, and Big Bill Broonzy. He exclusively concentrates on slide guitar, employing his cherished Dobros, some that are customized to play by Edison's power. Sardinas listens to 78s, then couples these influences with modern sounds.
He moved around the country, landing in Los Angeles in 1990. Like the early blues folk, he played acoustic for a living on the street, then formed the Eric Sardinas Project (ESP) by hooking up with bassist Paul Loranger at a jam session. Loranger had the ideal sound that Sardinas wanted, a bassist who had exceptional playing ability on upright and electric and could work the upright in a blues-rock context. Two years later, drummer Scott Palacios joined them. It took ESP six years of experience of performing nearly 300 shows annually, playing from acoustic gigs in coffeehouses to sharing the bill with rock bands at Hollywood clubs. Musical-instrument companies sent them gigging at showcase concerts, which led the band to a gig as the opening act for a West Coast swing of a Johnny Winter's tour. Word got around, receiving the attention of Evidence Records. Blues discoverer Dick Shurman produced Sardinas' 1999 debut, Treat Me Right. In 2000, Sardinas released a three-song single spotlighting his burning take on J.B. Hutto's "Angel Face." Devil's Train, his second full-length album, followed in 2001 and featured more of Sardinas' trademark blues-rock.~ Char Ham