Shrimp City Slim (aka Gary Erwin, b. 1953 Chicago) is a keyboard player/singer/songwriter based in Charleston, SC. In 2017, he marked thirty years full-time in music.
SCS performs 200+ shows per year, solo and also with his great band, throughout the Southeast and overseas. He has performed all over Europe (France, Germany, Italy, Poland, UK, Ireland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland); Asia (Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan), and in Latin America (Mexico, Colombia, Bolivia).
File under “world piano blues”.
Shrimp City Slim has released 14 CDs of original material to date. The latest solo album (piano & vocals) is “Tidal Pool” (November, 2016 release). All these CDs and downloads are available via CD Baby and Amazon. Of particular (recent) interest is the live-in-Poland CD (2012 recording) entitled “Transatlantic Blues Project”.
SCS also has worked extensively with various real-deal down-home blues artists and has released albums by some of them on his label, Erwin Music (see “Recordings” for complete list of Erwin Music releases).
As bandleader/tour manager, he has traveled extensively (USA/Europe/Asia, since 1990) with Walter “Lightnin’ Bug” Rhodes, Big Boy Henry, Chicago Bob Nelson, Drink Small, Beverly Guitar Watkins, Neal “Big Daddy” Pattman, John Lee Ziegler, and others.
Having promoted blues in the coastal area since 1984, his other ongoing projects include
a) Organizing annual blues festivals throughout South Carolina (Carolina Downhome Blues Fest, Camden, 22nd coming in October 2018; Greenwood Blues Cruise, 19th edition coming in July, 2019; Blues By the Sea, Kiawah Island, 15th edition coming April 14, 2019), Pee Dee Blues Bash (10th annual to be staged November 3, 2018, Florence, SC), and the Lowcountry Blues Bash, Charleston (now ended after 22 years, 1991-2012), among others),
b) Producing blues radio shows…now: “Good Mornin’, Blues”, Sundays 8-9 AM EST on The Bridge at 1055 (WCOO 105.5 FM Charleston, SC, streaming worldwide at 1055thebridge.com).
This ongoing advocacy rests on the legacy of seventeen years (1984-2001) producing four weekly programs for SC Public Radio, three years on the legendary “Breeze Radio Network”, and programs on a handful of other stations. Even more recently, he made fifty-five appearances in one year on “Low-country Live”, ABC News 4 TV).
The Shrimp City Slim band has shared the stage with blues legends such as BB King, Bobby Blue Bland, Jimmy Rogers, Junior Wells, Koko Taylor, Johnny Winter, Buddy Guy, Little Milton, James Cotton. Billy Boy Arnold, Little Willie Littlefield, Henry Gray AND rock/pop personalities NRBQ, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Dr. John, Herbie Mann, Jesse Colin Young, Mick Taylor (of The Rolling Stones), Lee Oskar, Savoy Brown, The Jim Kweskin Jug Band, Spider John Koerner, Ten Years After, and more.
With Dizzy Gillespie, Drink Small, Houston Person, and others, Erwin is profiled in Dr. Benjamin Franklin’s “Jazz & Blues Musicians of South Carolina” (University of SC Press), as well as “Making Notes: Music of the Carolinas” (Novello Press), “Blues” by Edoardo Fassio (Editori Laterza, Rome, Italy), “South Carolina Blues” by Clair DeLune (Arcadia Press, and (new for 2016) “Encyclopedia of South Carolina Jazz & Blues” (also by Dr. Franklin, University of SC Press).
Closer to home, in 2013 Charleston mayor Joseph P. Riley proclaimed March 27 as “Shrimp City Slim / Gary Erwin Day” in the historic city. He was inducted into the Low-country Music Hall of Fame on October 22, 2017.
The name? Touring in the 1980s-1990s with colorfully named characters such as Big Boy Henry, Drink Small, Chicago Bob Nelson and others, the pressure was on to get a ‘blues name’ (back in the day when blues musicians actually had ‘blues names’!). As Charleston has a huge fishing & shrimping industry and SCS is a seafood aficionado, his mentors collectively decided on “Shrimp City Slim” and it has been that way ever since. In 1997, it was discovered that someone ran a racehorse at Meadow lands called “Shrimp City Slim” and so the name was immediately trademarked. The horse? As far as we know, did not place…probably went straight to the glue factory.