Gary Erwin, also known as Shrimp City Slim, is a local blues musician who produced the Lowcountry Blues Bash for 22 years and also helps run the Blues & BBQ Harbor Cruises with Charleston Harbor Tours every Thursday from April to November.
He also organizes blues and roots music events across the state.
Q: What made you want to plant your roots in the Lowcountry?
A: Chicago is my hometown, but I wanted to move south for a long time. I got laid off from a shipping job in Boston in 1983 and took that as the time to move.
I bought a cheap rail pass and explored the entire South, from D.C. to Santa Fe and back. At the end of the journey, the number one choice was Savannah, but I ended up getting a job here. Charleston in the 1980s was an incredibly cool, funky little town.
Q: Have you been working on a project that you’re excited about?
I love the solo gigs and, of course, the band shows, especially our weekly Blues & BBQ Harbor Cruises, and am writing tunes for a new CD. Also on the books is a solo tour in Europe in September (17 dates in Poland and Germany).
Q: What’s your signature style?
A: I deal principally in piano blues in the Chicago and New Orleans traditions but also blend in originals, which pull from a lot of influences. Weapons of choice are straight piano for the solo shows and keyboard (with bass split, i.e. bass in the left hand) for the band gigs. And I sing.
Q: If you could choose anybody, living, dead or fictional, to be your mentor for a day, who would it be and why?
A: I would love to hang with John Lennon.
Q: What’s something you’re constantly running out of?
A: This would have to be time. The older you get, the faster it goes.