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The Sound

Sardinas does it his way


Eric Sardinas is a road warrior. He’s one of those guys who never seem to find commercial success, even in the face of blinding talent. Sardinas makes up for the lack of radio play by relentlessly touring and getting in front of fans the old fashioned way: one stage at a time.

Eric Sardinas plays at the Val Air Ballroom, 301 Ashworth Road, on Wednesday, March 4. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 the day of the show.

Eric Sardinas plays at the Val Air Ballroom, 301 Ashworth Road, on Wednesday, March 4. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 the day of the show.

“For the last 12 years, I’ve been on the road 300 nights a year,” he concurred. “Time passes pretty quick that way.”

Quick, indeed. Spending that much face time with the people who appreciate their music helps artists develop a deep, true sense for what keeps fans coming back for more. And that translates to an album experience that is as close to their live show as possible, which is what it is all about for Sardinas.

“It’s having that connection and not losing the human element,” he said, explaining his recording process. “Being able to communicate, not using any bullshit and being really honest. With what you can do on computers these days, sometimes with the sterilization, the human element disappears.”

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And it is that human element that makes Sardinas’ music jump up and grab people. He has been playing since he was 6 years old and knows his way around a six-string better than most anybody you are apt to meet.

His style of music is impossible to imitate. Sardinas plays in a way that defies convention, and his music is not easily categorized. That bold individualism has cost him professionally. It has made the concept of regular radio play impossible, and for as much as the Internet has helped independent musicians, album sales are still very much driven by radio play. Not that you will ever catch Sardinas complaining.

“I’m lucky enough to have been able to make music for a label that has supported me and let me be the artist who I am,” he said. “The creativity that I’ve had wasn’t in any way altered, and I was allowed to be myself and not deal with the commercial aspect. “It’s kind of scary that, with this record, there’s nowhere for me to be on radio,” he admits, however. “There’s no station that has a format for me. I’m not a classic rock guy or a modern rock guy. Am I a blues artist? Well blues purists don’t like me, but I’ll go head to head with anyone who plays straight blues.”Sardinas freely admits that his life would be easier if he could get someone at Clear Channel to notice him. But it is not something he worries about all that much because, no matter what, he is just going to keep doing what has gotten him to this point — get in front of fans and make them jump, night after night.

“I don’t think that it’s going to be particularly long before physical product is going to be gone,” he said. “Everybody’s going to be getting their music strictly from downloading. Most of the record chains are gone. The big chains, a lot of them are gone. There have been a lot of changes in the music industry.

“I’m not making music for sales; I never have been,” he concluded. “I haven’t had any commercial success. I haven’t had anything given to me. I’m lucky enough that what I’ve done has allowed me to have a life making music every day for the rest of my life.” CV


Chad Taylor is an award-winning news journalist and music writer from Des Moines who would love to take his talents abroad if the rent were not so much more affordable in Des Moines.


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