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Bluesapalooza - September 16, 2013


Monday, September 16, 2013 5:00pm



Four years ago, a county government-sponsored blues festival was the last thing most people expected would ever take place in Hernando County. But there it was, the inaugural Bluesapalooza, a two-day event in 2009 featuring some of the Tampa Bay area's best-known blues artists cranking it up on the soccer fields at Anderson Snow Park.

Parks and Recreation Department events coordinator Christie Williams said that seeing such a strong turnout for that first event gave her hope that good things were on the horizon. Fast forward to the present and there is plenty of evidence that the success will continue with the fifth installment of Bluesapalooza, which kicks off at noon Saturday at Hernando Park in downtown Brooksville.

The daylong event, which again will feature some of the top blues talent on the west coast of Florida, will be held in a new venue that Williams thinks is ideal.

"It's a beautiful setting under the trees that's perfect for listening to music," she said. "We've got a wonderful lineup and a lot of great food vendors. It could be the best festival we've ever had."

Williams said that in addition to the main stage at the band shell, this year's event will also feature a second "B" stage with local blues artists.

Bluesapalooza's lineup of bands pretty much covers all styles of the blues genre, from traditional to contemporary and beyond. Here's a sampling of what to expect:

Damon Fowler: A veteran of all five Bluesapaloozas, Fowler will once again headline the event. A Florida native, Fowler's mix of roots rock, blues and jazz has made him perhaps the state's most highly regarded blues export. He tours extensively throughout the United States.

Sarasota Slim and Nitro: Considered by many to be the sage of the bay area blues scene, Sarasota Slim, a.k.a. Gene Hardage, has come to personify the genre's traditional side with smooth vocals and an eloquent guitar style. However, Slim fans are well aware that the veteran guitarist is fond of mixing things up when he performs, so expect some surprises. He will be joined Saturday by his longtime compatriot and blues harp master, Nitro Bozeman.

Berry Oakley and Skylab: The son of the late Allman Brothers bassist Berry Oakley put together his first group a half-dozen years ago. Since then, he has made steady inroads in the blues and jam band scene, performing a variety of classic blues and rock tunes as well as original music.

RJ Howson: A veteran of the Chicago blues circuit, Sarasota roots rocker and blues man RJ Howson picked up his skillful guitar chops performing and jamming with blues icons at Buddy Guy's Legends club. The past several years, he has been a fixture on the South Florida blues club circuit.

Wendy Rich: Perhaps the Tampa Bay area's most notable female blues voice, Rich has been involved in the bay area music scene and has headlined concerts and festivals for more than 20 years, including a yearlong stint as front woman for Janis Joplin's legendary original band Big Brother & the Holding Company. A resident of Brooksville, she performs frequently in the area.

another 15 seconds! - August 26, 2013

of fame at bay area Channel 10 News program - Studio 10 TV on Monday August 26th at 10 am.

Saturday April 27, 2013 Bikini Blues Bash returns - April 8, 2013

Thanks to Surfboard Dave of Surfboard Records we have some really nice video clips from our first Bikini Blues Bash - check out his site for what happened last year.

Here's the official press release for this year's Bikini Blues Bash on April 27, 2013 - DON'T MISS IT!!!

The only blues festival where your happy feet can dance in the sand is the Bikini Blues Bash in Treasure Island on Saturday, April 27th. Smack dab on Treasure Island’s famous festival-sized beach, the Bikini Blues Bash boasts over 10 hours of hot, smokin’ blues, soul and swing from seven bands. This year, the bash headlines the man with the booming bulldozer voice, Latimore, still kicking it and keeping it soulful. You may or may not know his name, but Latimore has been in showbiz for half a century with a string of chart-topping rhythm and blues hits in the '70’s, most famously "Let's Straighten It Out.”

Now in its second year, the City of Treasure Island presents the Bikini Blues Bash with the help of the Suncoast Blues Society, Saunders & Walker, PA, and dozens of local volunteers. The festival begins at 11:30am with two sets from everybody’s favorite swing and jazz band, the 18-piece Tomkats Jazz Orchestra, who have been packing houses up and down the coast for close to thirty years. Sunset Beacher Charlie Morris and his band, fresh off their winter 2013 European Tour, take the stage at 1:45 with some down-home songs and stories. Steve Arvey, a favorite Chicago blues guitarist with a thing for Florida stone crab, plays at 3pm, followed by the true blues sensation of the year, Ellie Lee & Blues Fury. Of Ellie, says Skipper’s Smokehouse owner Tom White: “You smoked it, girl!” Whatever you do, don’t miss Ellie at 4:15.

Sarasota Slim takes a time-out from producing the bash and brings his raucous blues-slinging band on at 5:45 for a set that always begins onstage and ends up somewhere out in the crowd! As the bash heads toward sunset, Billy Seward and Soulfonic, featuring Betty Padgett, play at 7:15pm. Billy’s show is a mix of blues, soul and horn-driven R&B, and it’s a full-blown musical party.

Just when you think the fever can’t go any higher, Latimore, backed by Seward and the Soulfonics, hits the Bikini Blues Bash stage at 8:30pm. With a string of R&B hits spanning two decades and a showbiz career spanning over five decades, Latimore has a voice with deep feeling for the blues and soul, not to mention some hammer-down finger-tickling keyboard action.

Festival vendors are open all day and evening, along with the food court, from 11:30am to 10pm. You can park directly on the beach, all day, for $10. Parking entrance to the beach is at the festival site at 104th Avenue and Gulf Boulevard in Treasure Island, across from Publix. No pets or glass permitted on the beach. Details online at or at 727- 547-4575 ext. 237.



Bikini Blues Bash 2!! - February 19, 2013

This years Bikini Blues Bash is beginning to shape up!  Starting early in the day Saturday, April 27th to kick things off the Tom Cats Jazz Orchestra will be playing a special selection of Ray Charles tunes.  Next up is Charlie Morris for a rematch with the evil PA that tried to destroy the earth last year during his set.  Then Steve Arvey will switch gears and bring out old school bay area favorite Nitro to help him with some back porch acoustic blues - I might have to get in on a piece of that with one of my metal geetarz.  Then Ellie Lee & Blues Fury will be making their first official festival appearance in the bay area after moving here from Ohio about a year ago - another great new addition to the neighborhood.  Yours truly Sarasota Slim & Company will be playing next with both new and old faces at 6 pm. - that's our time slot so don't miss it.  Moving on to the folks from out of the area we have Billy Seward & Soulfonic with Betty Pageant doing some great Memphis style blues from his new CD Better Place.  Then Billy's Soulfonic band will have the honor of backing up the legendary soul-blues artist simply known as Latimore and with any luck I will try to get up for a couple of tunes too.  If you want to help promote this event feel free to download and print this poster by clicking on this poster pic below...


The Beach - April 18, 2012

Beaches are beautiful.  I grew up in a town with some of the prettiest beaches in Florida.  Now I live in St. Pete and they just happen to have one of the coolest beaches anywhere.  How cool is it that Treasure Island has a great big beach and they're always throwing parties with live music on it?!  We've played a few of their beach events with names like Sanding Ovations and Rockin' Red Glare and now we're ready for a new one called the Bikini Blues Bash.  


Bikini Blues Bash


Here's a movie clip of us playing at the Sanding Ovations in November of 2010  taken by Surfboard Dave


1st ink on the new CD - hometown paper - March 10, 2011


Local Beats


Published: Thursday, March 10, 2011 at 1:00 a.m. 
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 at 10:04 a.m.

Artist: Gene "Sarasota Slim" Hardage (guitar, vocals, composition, production)

Click to enlarge
Gene "Sarasota Slim" Hardage

Base of operation: St. Petersburg

Style/genre of music: Blues

Bio: Sarasota Slim's new disc (the third on Hardage's own Possum Phono-Graphics label, and eighth overall) entitled, "Get Up Get Down," is commingled blues, funk, boogie, slide guitar and heaps of warm Southern charm. Hardage, who grew up in Sarasota, is as authentic and talented as they come, having worked/ toured with Lucky Peterson (1988+) and earning his "Sarasota Slim" nickname from Rock Bottom (with whom he played, in The Jungle Bushmasters and The Cuttaways). Internationally acclaimed, Hardage released four albums on Italian label Appaloosa throughout the 1990s, and toured Europe. He also started (with the now-defunct Gulf Coast Blues Society) the long-running Monday night blues jam at Tampa's Green Iguana. Hardage calls on a changeable collection of musicians for live performances and recording, including keyboards and backup vocalists to augment standard guitar, bass and drums.

Quote: "If only I could do what the rest of my contemporaries do, and that is to brag about some horrible brush with death and jail and, y'know, three kinds of drug addictions, and all kinds of the bad things that blues people are supposed to have, y'know, I would be really popular," Hardage joked.

Where to see: 7-10 p.m. Saturday. Venice's Snook Haven (485-7221). Free / Official CD release party, 6-10 p.m. March 20 at Skipper's Smokehouse in Tampa ($6).

Where to buy CDs: and performances ($10)


-- Dawn Scire,

CD is finally here... - February 22, 2011

...and now to take over the world.


Get Up Get Down

The new CD is Done! - September 30, 2010

Finally got the the CD done.  Next step is some liner notes - song order - pics - title - stuff like that.  I did a silly intro for a song that I'm playing slide on and thought it might be fun to video it while we recorded it.  There are 4 takes and we picked Take #2 for the song intro.

slowly picking away... - June 5, 2010

...on some new CD material.  

Da Bucs & da Blues... - April 6, 2009

Buccaneers Football of course. The big news is that 2 of the new offensive line coaches are big blues fans and they tracked me down via the www and came to see us play da blues at the Ringside Cafe last night. One of them handed me a piece of paper with a football play drawn on it and said they were naming that play code name - Sarasota Slim !!! That's right folks you might hear my name mentioned on Monday night football - let's hope the play scores. I can see a whole series of plays named for blues guys - alright guys on the 1 - we're doing the Howlin' Wolf.

2 steps from Bobby "Blue" Bland - August 30, 2008

That's right folks - one of the greatest blues singers in the world with decades of huge radio hits including the definitive version of Stormy Monday will be the headliner of a fundraising event to benefit the Polk Museum of Art in Lakeland, FL on Friday, October 3rd. We will open for him starting at 6pm. !!!! (see my gig listings for full details)

Cote Seafood Fest news flash - May 11, 2008

15 seconds of fame... - May 7, 2008

That's right folks - we got our 15 seconds of local fame thanks to the good folks who put on the Cotee River Blues Fest in New Port Richey. It seems that Virginia Johnson of Bay News 9 needed some footage of one of the bands so we were suggested and PRESTO!!! we have our 15 seconds of fame to be aired every hour starting this Friday until the Fest is over I guess!!!

the "Gary Westbrook" party scam - October 24, 2007

It seems that the good folks in Nigeria have nothing better to do than try to scam people. I just got my first fake 419 Nigerian money order for $4000.00 to go play a party in Salem, Oregon. I actually called the CIA and they said unless you've lost money they don't have any time to fool with it.

Here's the text of the original email:

Subject: Salem Invitation.
Date: September 29, 2007 3:10:24 PM EDT

Good Day,
I have a party in Salem, which I'll love to have you; the party is a send of party of one of my co-worker that will be relocating.
I'll love to have your band to Come and perform on that day, the total numbers of guest that will present at the party was 50 and the party is going to be an indoor event. I'll provide you with staging and lighting .
The date of the party is 11/10.
Let me know if your band is not book on that day.
Here's the party venue,
Salem City Hall
555 Liberty St SE
Salem, Oregon 97301
Let me know the amount you'll ask for to come and perform at the party.
A friend called Greg Adams introduced me to your band.
If you'll be staying overnight around that area, I'll want you to quote the hotel fee with your performance fee.
Let me know what it's going to cost to have you on that day, and include your phone numbers in the next email.
Gary Westbrook.
N.B I don't mind to pay more money to get the best band.


OK - after getting several more emails and even a few phone calls (one with a caller ID that pointed to Nigeria --- 23417656838 ) I got the money order and then - you guessed it - he sent this email:

Hello Gene,
Sorry I have not been contacting you since some days ago, and I am also expecting you to email me as well.
It’s like we’ll not be able to continue with the party, so things happen between the organizers and we have choose not to do the party.
I think I should let you know, the man that will be getting transfer was lost in a car accident in California, and this has brought the most shocking moment to the member and other staffs that’s why we decided not to continue with the party.
What I’ll want you to do is that I’ll like you to deduct $1000 from the money you have with you, and I’ll like to have refund of the rest of the money.
I’ll keep your contact details, and invite you for any future event that we may have, that’s for being sincere.
I’ll like to have the money sent to me, I’m still over here in Spain, and I’ll like to have the money. You’ll be sending the money to me via western union, and here are the details that you’ll be sending the money to,
Address CALLE, MATINEZ 7,30004
Go to any western union outlets around you to send the money, you are going to be asked to pay some money to send the funds, I’ll like you to deduct the transfer fee from my money and have the rest of the money sent.
You’ll be given some 10 digits numbers call M.T.C.N I’ll like you to email me the numbers as soon as you have the money sent.


OK - enough time wasted on this BS. Hope this info being posted here helps prevent others from falling for a fairly simple scam.


We will scatter Mabel's ashes - September 3, 2007

After a long and difficult 2 to 3 years in the nursing home my mother Mabel, the youngest of four, finally joined her two sisters Eva, Roberta, and brother Bob. We plan to scatter her ashes on Siesta Key Beach as she requested. While rooting through some of her belongings I ran across a pic I had never seen before.

Tim's Barber Shop - June 14, 2007

For years I had long hair and never worried about hair cuts or barber shops. Then a few years ago I went into stealth mode and got a traditional hair cut. Jack's next the El Cap helped keep me clipped 'till Jack finally retired in his 80's after serving St. Pete for at least 50 years. So when Jack closed I went looking for a new hair clipper and stumbled into some strange goings on right down the street from my house. Who woulda thunk so much was happinin' right around the corner?!
(This is a trailer for a reality TV program based on the life and times of Tim and his barber shop in St. Pete-A-Bug FLA - the soundtrack has a familiar ring to it!)

Nappy our beloved dog passes on to dog heaven :( - February 14, 2007

On Valentines day 2007 our sweetheart dog Nappy passed away suddenly :( :( :( :(

15 Seconds of Fame! - January 16, 2007

My 15 seconds of fame will air tonight at 11pm. on channel 13 NEWS. News host Loyd Sowers asks me questions about Tampa Red and I try to answer and pick a little for a special thing on Tampa Red. Thanks to SBS DJ and blues-o-file Larry Lisk for sending Loyd and camera crew my way. (Loyd says it will also air at 8am. tommorrow morning too)

A long overdue Slim-Lucky Reunion - January 4, 2007
Way back in 1988 the Sarasota Slim - Lucky Peterson Blues Band was tearin' up the bay area and beyond. Since then Lucky has moved on to become one of my all time favorite musicians and is by far one of the funkiest people on the planet. Come see some great blues at Bourbon Street in New Port Richey on Thursday, January 11th. Special guest James Peterson (Lucky's dad) will be there too.

SlimTube? - December 11, 2006

Tecknogeek failure that I am, I have not yet figured out how to convert some of my old VHS tapes of the band into YouTube clips. So here's a big thankyou to Mark Lester for being the first one to do it. He had some footage of us from the outside courtyard of the Silver Ring in Winter Haven way back in 1993. The band members were: Doc - bass, Quency - organ, Jungle Denny - Drums.

Winos - I need your help! - October 29, 2006

OK all you wine drinkers I need your help. I need you to send me or bring me all your old wine bottle corks. Only real cork - not the new artificial type. I'm redoing Possum Studio and 1 wall will be covered in cork just as soon as y'all get through drinking enough wine - now get busy!

New recording toy yields results! - September 18, 2006

Just got a new recording toy! It's called an Alesis HD24. I recorded the last couple of gigs and although there are a few bugs to work out - I was able to get some stuff from each night. It's mixed and available as an MP3 download or stream right here on my music link. FREE

Mark Olbrich - Blues Eternity - January 17, 2006

Mark Olbrich is the bass player from London who came over here on "holiday" with his family a few years back and we met and became friends. We did a little jamming while he was here and later he arranged for me to go with him and his band to a blues festival in his original country of Poland where we played the 2005 Rawa Blues Festival. Mark was a wonderful host, tour guide, band leader, and bass player, and he was sharp enough to have it all recorded and it turned out to be a fine CD if I do say so myself. Mark Olbrich's web site is Paddy Milner played keys with us and really makes each song special. He is by far one of the best piano players I've ever heard and it's a real musical treat to have him on this project with us. Paddy Milner's web site is Holding the rhythm section together is the ever popular Sam Kelly - voted British Blues Connection "Drummer of the Year" 5 years running. Sam Kelly's web site is
I only have a few copies of the CD right now (more are on the way) but you can listen to it here...
You can also buy copies here... or from Mark direct...

Hard headed Damon - January 3, 2006

It's a good thing he's hard headed 'cause that's where he landed - on his punkin' head! For those of you who have not heard the bad news - Damon Fowler - bay area blues guitar slinger-singer - had a bad accident in his van back in December. The doctors have started patching him up with skin grafts for his shoulder and head which were ground up pretty bad by the road. Them doctors don't come cheap and there is an ongoing series of benifits to help raise $$$ for his outrageous medical bills. I missed the big one at Skippers 'cause we were working so we could pay some of our own bills but I will be at some of the other benefits planned for him at Bourbon Street, Osceola Tavern, and the Music Ranch.

Some Slim Santa Jams - December 20, 2005

Ho ho ho and hee hee hee - I got the Christmas jams in me!

Here's some holiday tunes by yours truly and some of my musical elf friends. For all the good little boys and girls who might get iPods for Christmas - FREE mp3 downloads!
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