An Interview with guitarist Sarasota Slim: All music evolves in time and I enjoy hearing the evolutionPosted by Michalis Limnios BLUES @ GREECE on May 28, 2012 at 12:20pmI love big band salsa and Cuban stuff and would like to play some of my slide and bluesy lead in a group like that with those killer singers and horns.Gene "Sarasota Slim" Hardage: Southern ComfortSarasota Slim's disc last year "Get Up Get Down," is commingled blues, funk, boogie, slide guitar and heaps of warm Southern charm. Gene Hardage, who grew up in Sarasota, is as authentic and talented as they come, having worked/ toured with Lucky Peterson at late eighties 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. Sarasota Slim talks about Lucky and James Peterson, Nitro, the late Loretta Glover, Tampa's Green Iguana,Damon Fowler, Rock Bottom and Cuban Salsa.Interview by Michael LimniosGene, when was your first desire to become involved in the blues?My blues interest grew as I started listening to blues oriented rock radio with bands like Cream, Jimi Hendrix, and The Allman Brothers.  A chance to see Freddie King at Tampa University gym was a great turning point as well.  I saw my first concert at 13 - it was The Allman Brothers and they were a new band with one album out.What do you learn about yourself from the blues, what does the blues mean to you? That's a deep question for a very shallow mind.  Like Gatemouth Brown I prefer to think of myself as a musician but I guess I'm more of a blues musician than anything else so on the plus side you don't have to be young and pretty to play the blues.Which was the best moment of your career and which was the worst?There are a lot of best moments in my career.  Lately I've been hearing from people who are learning my songs and playing them and a few people have even recorded their own versions of them - that's very rewarding.  Thanks to a lot of opening act slots a long time ago I got to meet a lot of my blues heroes like Bobby Blue Bland, Little Milton, Gatemouth Brown, Etta James, Koko Taylor, Gregg Allman, and Johnny Winter.  My worst moment was when our friend and featured singer Loretta Glover died at a gig.  What are some of the most memorable jams and gigs you've had?We had some great moments at the old Green Iguana jam in Tampa on Mondays. Opening for Johnny Winter in Zurich was a blast.  The recent Bikini Blues Bash with Lucky & Tamara Peterson was a lot of fun. What are some of the most memorable tales with Lucky Peterson?I really enjoyed listening to Lucky talk about his gigs in Memphis with Little Milton and 2 or 3 other bands like Tyrone Davis, Johnnie Taylor, or Bobby Bland.  Even more interesting was listening to James Peterson talk with Koko Taylor about when Lucky was a little boy and they were staying upstairs at the Governor's Inn that James owned and had touring blues bands play and little Lucky would sit in with them.  Lucky loved Koko and Pops and would sneak upstairs to climb in bed between Koko and Pops at night after the gig - you know the things children do.  It was the love and family side of them that few people get to see.What's been their experience from “studies” with the blues? Sorry - don't know what to say here.What is the "think" you miss from the “OLD DAYS OF BLUES”?I wasn't around for the old days of blues but when I play guitar for my old friend Nitro we get a nice old timey sound. Some music styles can be fads but the blues is always with us.  Why do think that is?All music evolves in time and I enjoy hearing the evolution.  Give one wish for the BLUESI wish the blues would give me a dollar.What advice would you give to aspiring musicians thinking of pursuing a career in the craft?Find a 2nd and 3rd way to make money along with playing so you don't starve.Of all the people you’ve meeting with, who do you admire the most?Lucky Peterson continues to amaze me with his Hammond work and all around funkiness.Which is the most interesting period in your life and why?There have been good and bad things in every part of my life and music.  We had a lot going on in the early 90's when my first records came out and we were traveling all over the place.  That was hard work and a lot of fun. ” - Michalis Limnios

Blues.GR - May 28, 2012

Published: Thursday, March 10, 2011 at 1:00 a.m.  Artist: Gene "Sarasota Slim" Hardage (guitar, vocals, composition, production) 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) Website: -- Dawn Scire,” - Dawn Scire

— Venice Gondolier - Venice, FL - March 10, 2011

Sarasota Slim, Skinny McGee Put Tunes In Dade City's Diet By GEOFF FOX Published: Dec 10, 2005 DADE CITY - Sarasota Slim has advice for aspiring blues artists: "Give up. Let me have your gig," he said with a laugh. "It's not worth it." In truth, playing for an audience - especially an intimate, good-time crowd in a venue with character - is what makes life as a full-time musician worth it for the veteran bluesman, whose real name is Gene Hardage. A guitar slinger-songwriter and self-avowed Florida Cracker, Sarasota Slim takes the outdoor stage at The Osceola Tavern on Seventh Street at 8 tonight. Skinny McGee & His Mayhem Makers, an established rockabilly group that often plays at the tavern, will open the show at 6 p.m. Cost is $5. "I love to go to these places out in the middle of nowhere," said Sarasota Slim, who last played in Dade City several years ago with a group that opened for classic rock band Foghat. "You can't get anybody to show up in the big city if you're not Shania Twain or something." To Osceola owner Mike Agnello, Sarasota Slim, who has played across the state for the past 25 years or so, is a big name and the type of act he hopes to regularly attract to the tavern's new outdoor stage, which he calls "The Courtyard." Last week, renowned Tampa bluesman Damon Fowler performed at the tavern. Agnello said he was impressed by Sarasota Slim when he saw him perform at a blues festival a few years ago. "He's an amazing guitar player, part of the new breed of the big blues people," Agnello said. "We have the old guys who are fading out, and there aren't that many left. "In five years, these guys like Sarasota Slim and Tommy Castro and Damon Fowler, they're going to be taking it over. It's a big feather in my cap" to have him. Agnello's band, The Black Drink Band, will perform inside the tavern after Sarasota Slim's set ends about 11. Sarasota Slim said this week he's looking forward to the show, which will be mostly original songs, although he said he might cover songs by B.B. King, Johnny Winter, Eric Clapton and Wilson Pickett. He said bands such as Clapton's former group Cream, Jimi Hendrix and the Allman Brothers inspired him to start playing the blues when he was growing up in Sarasota. He plays a lot of slide guitar, said Larry Lisk, president of the Suncoast Blues Society. "His blues always has a kind of soulful, even Southern rock-kind of feel to it. Slim is Slim; he's been doing it a long time." At 49, Sarasota Slim plays Bay area clubs as often as he can. On Friday, he was scheduled to perform at Backroom Bluz in Eustis. For years, he has lived with his wife, Allison, in St. Petersburg, where they raise their daughters, Georgia, 13, and Rachel, 11. He has released six CDs, four on an Italian label and the last two on his own label, Possum Phono-Graphics. Joining Sarasota Slim on Saturday will be bassist Bill "Sugar Bear" Arzt, drummer Dave Wooten and possibly an extra guitarist. "We plan on bringing some thunder," Slim said. "I've got some new stuff I want to play.” - Geoff Fox

— Dade City Tampa Tribune - December 10, 2005

What you need is a dose of the blues Jim Abbott - Orlando Sentinal November 18, 2005 ....When the Downtown Orlando Blues Fest 2005 takes over Wall Street Plaza from 2 to 10 p.m. Saturday, it showcases an assortment of local, regional and national acts. There will be barbecue, too, which sounds delicious even if it won't do anything for my guilt about eating too much barbecue. The lineup features a variety of styles: Traditional blues from James and Lucky Peterson (7 p.m.), the father and son combination known for collaborations with King Snake Records founder Bob Greenlee; R&B-flavored sounds from Central Florida's Beautiful Bobby Blackmon (4:30 p.m.); rock-oriented stuff from Orlando's Shaun Rounds (2:30 p.m.); more old-school blues from nationally known Sarasota Slim (5:45 p.m.) and Orlando's Smokin' Torpedoes (2 p.m.); and jump-swing sounds from California's Little Charlie and the Nightcats (9 p.m.). "This is kind of a grass-roots effort to build the blues back in Orlando," says festival organizer Jeff Willey, of the Smokin' Torps. A similar event last year attracted only local bands, but the scope has broadened this time...” - Jim Abbott

— Orlando Sentinal - November 18, 2005

Tallahassee Democrat Posted on Fri, Jul. 01, 2005 Music hot enough to blast away stifling doldrums By Kati Schardl Here's what washed up on my sonic shores this week: Slim chance - Well, look who's gone and grown up! I first met Rick Lollar in 2000 when he was a 14-year-old self-professed computer geek with a cowlick, a shy, boyish grin and the skill of a player many years his senior on electric guitar. My, how time flies! It makes me feel a little bit ancient to know that Lollar has graduated from high school and has accepted a jazz scholarship to FSU's music school, where he'll polish his already amazing playing. Before he starts at FSU in the fall, Lollar will spend the summer at Boston's Berklee College of Music. But first he joins one of his mentors, fellow ax-slinger Sarasota Slim, for a throwdown Saturday at Bullwinkle's.” - Kati Schardl

— Tallahassee Democrat - Friday July 01, 2005

Best of the best...sans Eric Roberts By Jo Tompkins March 31. 2005  ...Also on April Fool’s, Sarasota Slim will be at the Side Bar with his evening entitled “I’ll Be Your Fool,” one of the songs off his album, Snook Fishin’. Slim is a bluesy, “guitar slinger singer songwriter,” or as he puts it, a “white boy blues rocker.” Slim and his band mates will be serving up some good ol’ Southern rock and blues music, and it’s a great opportunity to see a local and very influential artist live... ----------------------------------------- December 2004 by GRAHAM CLARKE Sarasota Slim, based in Florida, has been playing the blues for over two decades, and not that garbage that passes for blues at your local yuppie bar. Slim (a.k.a. Gene Hardage) plays the real thing. After four releases on the Italian Appaloosa label, Slim has returned with Boney Fingers, his second release on his own Possum Phono-Graphics label, and it is a breath of fresh air. Though he's associated with the blues, he mixes various genres well, including a touch of swing (Swing Thing), some blue-eyed soul (Out-O-Sight, I Found Out), and even calypso (Calypso Joe), all of which mesh well with his blues tunes. The latter includes the standout opener I'm Gonna Get You, which sounds straight out of the Elmore James songbook, I Want To Know, with it's 50s-era Chicago feel, and the grooving Booty Boomerang, which is so funky it appears in two installments. Slim is an outstanding guitarist, whose style ranging from some tasty slide to straight-ahead blues, and it also has a smooth, expressive vocal style. In addition, Slim wrote all the songs on the disc and there's not a dud in the bunch. The band, made up of musicians from the Tampa area, provide skin-tight backing and really complement Slim well. This disc was recorded at Slim's house and sounds great. This is very good stuff and is highly recommended. For more info on Sarasota Slim, check out his website at” - Jo Tompkins

— Gainesville Sun March 31. 2005

Dunedin renews the blues Over the years, the city's one-day wine and music festival had drifted into other genres, but this year, it's back to pure blues. By MARTY CLEAR St. Petersburg Times Published September 23, 2004 After 12 years, the organizers of Dunedin Wines the Blues thought the event needed a little tweaking. It wasn't that the annual one-night festival hadn't been popular. In fact, 20,000 to 25,000 people turned up every year to sample some wine and hear some live music from local blues, rock and oldies bands. "We just wanted to make it a more upscale event this year," said Bill Coleman, president of the Downtown Dunedin Merchants Association. "Even though it's called Dunedin Wines the Blues, there were other kinds of music, and we wanted to get back to the blues. And we also wanted to upgrade the wine selection, to have things that people can't buy at a supermarket." Coleman realized neither he nor anyone else in his organization (which co-sponsors the event with the city of Dunedin) had enough expertise in the local blues scene to find the best players. But he knew of someone who did: Sarasota Slim. Coleman "didn't know the blues, but he used to live in Sarasota so he knew my name and he called me," said blues singer-guitarist Sarasota Slim, now a Pinellas County resident. "I told him I'd be glad to be involved as little or as much as he wanted me to be. Turned out I was involved a lot." Slim had the knowledge and the connections to make sure the lineup was all blues. But he also took care to make sure diverse styles were represented. "You've got Nitro, who plays old-time, down-in-the-alley blues," Slim said. "But there's also Dwight Champagne, who's more of a R&B front man kind of guy." Because Sarasota Slim plays out-of-town gigs regularly, he also knows the blues scene in surrounding areas. That helped him attract Rick Lollar, a 17-year-old guitar wizard from Tallahassee. Lollar is often compared to Derek Trucks, who started gaining national attention a decade ago while he was still a teen. But Slim thinks Lollar is more polished than Trucks was at the same age. "I think he's approaching the point where Derek Trucks is now," Slim said. Besides a more intense helping of the blues, longtime festival fans will notice some other changes this year. Instead of having food vendors, the merchants association has arranged for downtown restaurants to set up tents outside their establishments to sell food to festivalgoers. Because downtown Dunedin has so many good restaurants, Coleman said, that should lead to a better variety of food. It also helps downtown businesses, which are footing part of the bill for the festival, attract potential new customers. The wine selection will concentrate on higher-quality offerings, and representatives from four wine merchants will help educate aspiring oenophiles. Organizers had also hoped for a slight change of venue, but that looks like it will be delayed until next year. Each year, the bands set up in a parking lot at Main Street and Douglas Avenue, though most of the crowd is in adjacent Pioneer Park. The park is being renovated, and Coleman said organizers had hoped that a new bandshell would be open in time. "Because of the hurricanes and all the rain, the contractors were delayed and the bandshell just didn't get done," Coleman said. "So this year the bands are in the parking lot one more time, and we've got about half of Pioneer Park, which is right next to the parking lot." PREVIEW Dunedin Wines the Blues is scheduled for 5 to 11 p.m. Saturday at Pioneer Park, Main Street and Douglas Avenue. The rain date is 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free, but a $1 "wristband donation" is requested from patrons older than 21; the wristband allows them to purchase beer and wine. Here is the lineup of musical acts: 5 p.m.: Rose Bilal 6 p.m.: Nitro and the Tampa Bay Blues Machine 7 p.m.: Dwight Champagne with Jerry Kenny 8 p.m.: Ed Lanier's Blues Review with Johnny Love 9 p.m.: Sarasota Slim 10 p.m.: Sarasota Slim with Rick Lollar” - Marty Clear

— St. Petersburg Times - September 23, 2004 Entertainment Extra - September 2004 Dunedin Wine the Blues Festival will be true blues review By STEVE BLANCHARD - DUNEDIN Blues fans get ready. Whether you're fanatical about that woeful sound of the guitar or just curious about the blues genre, the blues as they were meant to be heard will be presented at the Dunedin Wine the Blues Festival, Saturday, Sept. 25. Musicians ranging from well-known recording artists to the local groups just getting started can be heard at Pioneer Park for the 13th Annual Dunedin Wine the Blues Festival. According to entertainment coordinator Gene Hardage, also known as Sarasota Slim, the musicians all have one thing in common - talent. I've gone out and helped find a lot of people for this event, Hardage said. I helped out in its second year and this is my first time back since. This year they wanted to do things a little differently and I helped line up the entertainment. The entertainers will all perform on just one stage, Hardage said. The mix of talent lined up for the festival will offer fans of blues enough surprises to keep them happy throughout the event. This will be kind of a controlled mayhem, Hardage laughed. But it will be a true blues review. This concept is about musical fellowship. Some of the players will do double duty playing with other groups. This provides some spontaneity to the event. Hardage admits it's not only the expected 20,000 to 30,000 members of the audience who will benefit from the Dunedin Downtown Merchants Association event. Musicians who might not otherwise be heard will have a forum to reach a diverse audience. This is a gig everyone should want because of the exposure it provides, Hardage said. This gives them the attention they deserve. You have to admit you're never going to fit 20,000 people in a club, and these venues have quite a few people who don't normally go out and search for blues music. The Dunedin Wine the Blues Festival will kick off at 5 p.m. with Rose Bilal on stage. Other performers expected to attend include Nitro and the Tampa Bay Blues Machine, Dwight Champagne with Jerry Kenny, Ed Lanier's Blues Review with Johnny Love and Sarasota Slim with special guest Rick Lollar. Rick is a 17-year-old wizard from Tallahassee, Hardage said. There are definitely going to be some fireworks going on at this thing. I'm bringing this young guy with me and I may shake the dust off my old fingers and get up there and perform, too. Hardage has lived in St. Petersburg for 18 years and is still a regional act. He performs throughout the state of Florida and portions of the Southeastern United States. He has recorded six albums, two on his own label. Dunedin Wine the Blues Festival is free and open to the public. While the Dunedin Chamber of Commerce focuses on wine tasting, according to Hardage, he's focusing on the music as the main event. This is a real blues event, Hardage said. This is our piece of glory. Without glory, these musicians can never make money. Everyone should check this out. Most people don't know they're blues fans until they've gone and seen something like this. We will have a quality set of entertainers who are truly gifted. I'm convinced most of these people will just wow you. Pioneer Park is at Douglas and Main Street in Dunedin.” - Steve Blanchard

— Entertainment Extra - September 2004

VIBES | FEATURE 02.26.04 Still alive and ... slim Bluesman Sarasota Slim, deeply committed to a "shallow' aim BY BRYAN POWELL - Those "Where Are They Now" specials that populate VH1, MTV and E! are as irresistible as a car crash. These shows invite you to slow down and gawk at the once-hip subjects, now fattish, wrinkled, with gray hair or none -- cultural refugees in the aftermath of their 15 minutes of fame. Such programs rarely feature blues musicians, however, because blues is never truly in fashion. Thus, ironically, blues artists never go out of style, never get swept up or away in the passing of fads. A guy (or girl) could do worse, actually, than navigate this slender but comparatively stable entertainment niche, never getting rich or famous, but still doing the thing you love as the years go passing by. So it is for guitarist Sarasota Slim, aka Gene Hardage, a married man and father of two who has been performing for 25 years. Slim, 47, based in St. Petersburg, Fla., is no road warrior -- Saturday's show at Darwin's is his first Atlanta appearance in more than a decade -- but he's still a musician. "I don't work as much as I'd like to, and you certainly can't make any money at it, but I like it," says Slim. "I'm just a real shallow person, I guess. I like to make 'em dance and get wild and do all the things that people do in a decadent nightclub. I'm just an old geezer who likes to see people having fun." Slim admits to an extra measure of satisfaction when an audience member in the midst of reverie requests one of his own tunes without realizing it's an original. It suggests they find Slim's material every bit as satisfying as the far-ranging cover songs he plays. "That's my biggest thrill," says Slim. The ability to write original tunes, in fact, was essential in securing a record deal with the Italian-based Appaloosa label in the '90s. Slim discovered the label through a fellow musician, and quickly landed a deal -- Europe offers a strong market for American blues -- but the label's owner insisted on mostly original material. Slim was happy to oblige, and subsequently released four CDs on Appaloosa. He has since issued two CDs on his own Possum Phono-Graphics label: Snook Fishin' (1999) and Boney Fingers (2001), which exclusively feature originals. Several factors separate Slim from the typical blues guitar-slinger mimic. Though known as a bluesman, Slim's repertoire includes heaps of funk, R&B, swing and even a taste of calypso. A seasoned player, he deftly mixes styles, tempos and dynamic levels to reach listeners, tapping resources as diverse as War, Wilson Pickett, Charlie Daniels (he does a slide guitar overhaul of "Devil Went Down to Georgia") and Jimi Hendrix (whose version of "The Star Spangled Banner" he covers). Throughout, Slim brings steadfast integrity to his music and his instrument. He got his first guitar at 13, and Hendrix, Cream and the Allman Brothers Band made a mighty impression. Slim traced the performers who influenced these artists and discovered a common ground of blues guitarists, including Albert King, Elmore James, B.B. King and Otis Rush. Decades later, he's faithful to these pioneers and to the blues-rock inheritors who were his original inspiration. To remain true to that spirit, expressing multi-facets of both himself and the blues (originators and innovators), expect Slim to bring at least five guitars to Darwin's. There's a Fender Stratocaster, with its classic, stinging tone; a warmer, more urbane Gibson 335; two slide guitars, tuned to different open chords for vintage country blues and Duane Allman-styled jamming; and yet another Stratocaster, tuned low for an unusual baritone effect. Here's a guy who clearly still loves the instrument and the effect it has on him and his audiences, even after all these years. "When you grab a feedback note, a note that makes you happy," says Slim, "and you can see it go through the audience and they're happy, too, then you know you've hit the right note at the right time. You've got the right one.” - Brian Powell

— Creative Loafing - Atlanta, GA - February 26, 2004

No Singing The Blues After This Festival By BOB ROSS - Tampa Tribune Published: Apr 8, 2003 ...Grand Finale Sunday's show started with Florida favorite Sarasota Slim (nee Gene Hardage), whose slide guitar remains among the region's most inventive and listenable. Festival promoter Ross took time out to play guest harmonica under his stage name, Sonny Charles. Slim, like Thackery on Friday, played ``The Star-Spangled Banner'' on guitar. Both men received standing ovations...” - Bob Ross

— Tampa Tribune - April 8, 2003