Gary Erwin, aka Shrimp City Slim, is a well respected and worldly traveled blues man based out of Charleston, SC. He has performed with many blues greats over the years, in addition to forming lasting friendships with Savannah artists and venues as well. Here, he talks about his admiration for the Savannah blues scene, some of his favorite albums from local artists, his love for Latin American music, and much more.
Who would be in your All-Star band …
The guys I am working with regularly now: Steel City Steve Hardy (guitar/vocals), Juke Joint Johnny (harp/vocals), and John JP Picard (drums).
The gig was a sock-hop in the school gym and I earned $5.
Who are some of your favorite Savannah artists?
I enjoy all the Savannah blues cats – Kyle Yardley, Bottles & Cans, Jon Lee Murphy, Hitman, and Eric Culberson.
What is your favorite venue to play in Savannah?
There is no other place for me than Jazz’d Tapas on Barnard Street. Great folks and always a good time!
An ocean of beer brought to the stage for the band
What was your first performance like?
1963, I was ten years old and played drums with my two brothers’ high school band called The Men. The gig was a sock-hop in the school gym and I earned $5. My first paid gig. I was hooked.
Your favorite key to play in?
F Major – The 88’s roll nice and easy and suits my voice.
What was your craziest performance ever?
So many candidates for this one, but I will say two nights of back/back outdoor gigs in a public park in Cali, Colombia for their Festival del Arte. About 5000 people in attendance. Epic three-hour shows nonstop. An ocean of beer brought to the stage for the band – we kept rockin’ and didn’t stop. Thought we were the Beatles or something.
Latin music, especially Colombian cumbia and vallenato …
What are some of your favorite albums by Savannah artists?
I like Jon Lee Murphy’s various EPs, Eric Culberson’s releases on Kingsnake, and Kyle Yardley’s “Juke Joint Boogie.”
How did you settle in the low country?
I love Savannah and initially intended to move there but I got a job in Charleston and ended up moving there.
I am a seafood fanatic living in a seafood town
Any secret music indulgences?
Latin music, especially Colombian cumbia and vallenato and Andean folk music.
Finally, how did you get your stage name?
Chicago Bob Nelson named me that for our 1992 tour in Holland. I am a seafood fanatic living in a seafood town (Charleston), hence the “Shrimp City”. “Slim” is a standard-issue blues name. Bob used to come to gig because he loved fish and shrimp, too. I have used it ever since and trademarked the name in 1997.