Archive for the ‘John Akapo’ Tag

Favourite Blues Albums of 2018   1 comment


I don’t listen to a lot of blues, and almost all that does come my way is via a small handful of supportive PR houses. To their credit, they are discriminating. Still, a lot of the (mostly) electric blues that I encounter leaves me cold. My preferred style of blues is (usually) of the acoustic-based, singer-songwriter type. That and blues that comes with a heavy dose of rhythm ‘n’ soul. These are the finest of the forty or fifty blues (and blues-ish) albums that came my way during 2018.

Take it for what it is:

1. Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar- Run To Me reviewed here

2. Rory Block- A Woman’s Soul: A Tribute to Bessie Smith reviewed here

3. Sue Foley- The Ice Queen reviewed here

4. Joyann Parker- Hard to Love reviewed here

 5. John Akapo- Paradise Blues reviewed here

6. Brandon Isaak- Rise ‘n’ Shine Gritty and groovy folk-blues with just a touch of grease. Atmospheric and engaging, Brandon Isaak is a terrific songwriter and performer. Enjoyed this one immensely.

7. Emily Burgess- Are We In Love? reviewed here

8. Trudy Lynn- Blues Keep Knockin’ reviewed here

9. Kat Danser- Goin’ Gone reviewed here

10. Suzie Vinnick- Shake The Love Around reviewed here

Ed. Note: I only purchased Shemekia Copeland’s America’s Child in the final days of 2018, and couldn’t include it on this list which was prepared at the beginning of December. A lot of good things have been said about the album, and I will add to it: smart, blistering takes of the country to our south- Copeland goes deeper than most blues artists, and not just one a select song or two. I need to listen to her more, and to this album, of course, but Copeland reminds me of Rosanne Cash- unafraid to take on the world that is darkening around her. God, can she sing! Of course, produced by Will Kimbrough, further strengthening my argument that he is involved in just about every album worth listening to- he is also all over Mary Gauthier’s Rifles and Rosary Beads. Had I listened earlier, Copeland’s album would easily be in my Blues top 5, and likely in my Singer-Songwriter/Roots Top 20. Brilliant album.

Advertisements

John Akapo- Paradise Blues review   1 comment

 John Akapo Paradise Blues Mensch House Records

I like the blues. I don’t love the blues. There are contemporary blues artists whose music I do love, RoryBlock, Eric Bibb, and Crystal Shawanda among them, but I will never love the blues the way I love bluegrass, southern country soul, and much of the “singer-songwriterAmericana almost-country” set.  

But, I do love the debut album from John Akapo.

Taumei “Big John” Akapois a resident of Hawaii, Maui-born I believe. His Samoan heritage echoes in his interpretation of classic blues sounds, an appealing breezy openness offering something just a little bit different. Paradise Blues is a 35-minute blues journey across well-traveled tradition with invigorating originality.

Three blues classics ground the album, including a lively opening slice of Robert Johnson, “Ramblin’ On MyMind.” One of the album’s centerpiece songs— “Hindsight (Missionary Blues)”—leaves no doubt about the impact colonization had on Akapo’s ancestors.  “Little Lani,” and “Maui Drive” also place Akapo’s Island environs at the fore,  incorporating regional moods, events, and locations over hard-driving blues beats.

Darkness permeates Muddy Waters'”I Can’t Be Satisfied,” with “Caramac Blues” (“Life is like a box full of Caramacs, we take all we want but we can’t put nothin’back”) offering more uplifting aspirations (“Be the light, be thechange you want to see.”) Growling through “Big Road Blues,” one realizes the breadth of Akapo’s vocal range.

“Fighting for Love”offers a plaintive take on an imperfect relationship (“We had a good run, it wasn’t all bad times,”) but one senses a situation of ‘too little, too late;’ here and elsewhere, Akapo’s voice reveals an elegant, soulful maturity often missing in blues presentations. Perhaps “Don’t Believe Her” offers up this dude’s story when he finally recognizes his reality.

Largely acoustic, Paradise Blues offers, as Akapo aptly describes it, “a tree rooted in traditional blues, sprinkled with Pacific salt water.” Good stuff. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted 2018 December 1 by Donald Teplyske in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,