Sticks & Stones
Artist: Eric Sardinas & Big Motor
Label: Provogue Records
Reviewed: July, 2011
I don’t believe in the concept of reincarnation. However, listening to the yet-to-be-released Eric Sardinas & Big Motor CD, Sticks & Stones, I am almost convinced that there might be something to it. Sardinas is who you would have if Elmore James decided to live life again seven years after his passing.
However, Sardinas is much more than a remarkable slide guitarist who has taken the craft to all new levels. His performances embody not only blues in the spirit – or spirits – of James, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson and many other blues legends, but just plain ol’ good time rock and roll. With his signature electric resonator guitar, Sardinas boldly goes where few rock and blues artists have ever gone before.
Sticks & Stones is the seventh album by Eric and his band that, as the label’s press release stated, “is a vehicle to drive his inspiration from the roadhouse in to mainstream music.” If that’s the objective, then I believe that Sardinas can say, “Mission accomplished” with a little help from his friends, of course! Those guys are noted drummer, Chris Frazier (Steve Vai, Tribe, Edgar Winter) and the mad man of bass guitar, Levell Price. That’s it. A simple, back to basics rock ensemble that knows how to kick some musical butt.
The eleven songs that make up Sticks & Stones are each potential classics. If you view rock and blues as a cool drink from a garden hose, Sardinas will drench you with his firehose of heavy duty, good time, no holds barred rock and blues with a purpose. Eric goes as far to say that, “as always, every not is meaningful and has something to say from each player.”
Some of my personal favorites on this album (if I had a gun held to my head and was forced to pick from all eleven of these great tunes), the opening cut, Cherry Wine, is one that should be listened to with caution if one happens to be behind the wheel of a vehicle while it’s playing. I haven’t seen this one performed in front of a crowd yet but I have to believe that this tune gets the crowds going. I also wouldn’t be at all surprised if someone from the country music side of the spectrum picks this song up.
Gosh! Do I really have to pick some favorites from this album? Decisions, decisions!
Road To Ruin is a good time rock and roll tune that’s got to be another crowd pleaser as would be the third cut, Full Tilt Mama. Hard chargin’ rock and roll with expertly crafted lyrics, these tunes are “aneurhythms” in the making. I guarantee it.
So that I won’t look like I’m just rattling off the CD’s song line up, I’ll resist the urge to comment on County Line and jump over to Through The Thorns. This straight on blues tune is probably my favorite of favorites from Sticks & Stones. I have a sneakin’ hunch that this song, when performed with on stage with a fellow guitarist friend or two, can jam on for 30 to 40 minutes instead of the almost 5 minutes that’s clocked in on the CD. This is one fun, future blues classic. I’ll bet the ham samich that’s drying out on my desk (as I’m thoroughly and pleasantly distracted as this song remains on repeat) that I’m right.
Burning Sugar is a straight forward rock and roll song that, while Sardinas and the band will go far with, Rod Stewart might want to consider this song if he ever decides to cut an album of new rockers. This is a Stewart and Faces song if I’ve ever heard one. That all said, if Rod does decide to record it, the bar is set incredibly high if he hopes to try to outdo this cut.
Ratchet Blues evokes grainy images of Robert Johnson and Elmore James. I almost instinctively tried to pull out non-existent splinters that I just assumed were in my foot as I felt transported back to a rustic, backwoods Mississippi blues bar.
I never like to comment on every song on an album but it’s all I can do to want to infinitely gush over Sticks & Stones. The album is brilliantly produced by Matt Gruber, who, in addition to producing Sardinas’ last album, Eric Sardinas and Big Motor, also has produced for Ricky Martin and Carrie Underwood.
If you love slide guitar driven rock and blues, after listening to Sticks & Stones, you’re going to become a lifelong fan of Eric Sardinas and Big Motor. The album drops on August 30th, 2001. Stay in the loop on all things Sardinas by checking out www.ericsardinas.com.