WOW! Fifty years of music. Yep, that’s how long Gary “Alaska” Sloan, aka “Alaska Slim”, has been making music. From blues to techno, seems he’s played um all.
Where is he today? Diamond City Arkansas is where he makes his home with wife Sandy. They make a pilgrimage to Alaska in the summer. Playing a few shows across the state and at the fair in Palmer.
At age seventy I wonder how much longer we will be able to enjoy this man of many musical talents. I know if he comes up this year I will be there to hear him.
Achievements? Hmmm, where to start? Folks, he’s jammed with some of the best. John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, John Mayall, James Cotton, Luther ‘GUITAR JR’ Johnson, Wynton Marsalis Band, Reese Wynans, Elvin Bishop, Billy Preston, and Lazy Lester among others.
Gary organized two tours (with a horn section) for Wolfman Jack revues in 1989 and 1992, backing Freddy Cannon, Del Shannon, Coasters, Drifters, Platters, Tokens, Shirelles, Mary Welles, Bo Diddley and Little Anthony as well as the Wolfman himself. He’s was even featured in a Maxwell House coffee ad in 1994 playing, of all things, a harmonica player!
He also won a blues competition at the King Biscuit Festival and went on to emcee the festival for several years.
In November 1996 he went to Belgrade, Serbia to headline a blues festival (Jr. Wells headlined the first night, Gary the second), tour Yugoslavia and produce a CD by the band that backed him ‘RAWHIDE”. He returned in April 1997 to tour to support that CD. This took him to cities that no American had ever visited and happened in between the two wars. He still keeps in contact with his friends there via e-mail.
So, will we be seeing him, and loving his live music again this summer? Only time will tell. I do hope he makes it back to The Great Land to make some more great music.