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.

Saturday April 27, 2013 Bikini Blues Bash returns 

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!! 

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 

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 


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,

The new CD is Done! 

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.

Da Bucs & da Blues... 

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.