Wednesday, October 24, 2018


Is there Hawaiian blues? Well sure, blues is about what you're feeling, not where you're from. John Akapo lives in Hawaii, his heritage is American Samoan, but actually picked up on the blues when he was growing up in Alaska. He's developed his own idea of the music while working as everything from a luau musician to hip-hop producer so this is definitely his own take on the genre.

Akapo takes his cue from the acoustic Delta blues, with a small group that features lots of slide, a couple of guitars, bass and harmonica. Yes, you can feel the campfire/luau connection in the small group vibe and the laid-back, good-time approach. He has a warm, welcoming voice, lots of character, and reminds me a little of Keb'Mo', a bigger version. He does well on the three covers here, toe-tapping versions of the familiar I Can't Be Satisfied and Ramblin' On My Mind. It's the originals that stand out though, Maui Drive takes us on an Island tour, and describes a fine Hawaiian day. Hindsight (Missionary Blues) is the standout, a solo piece with just ukulele, a too-late warning to about the colonials arriving: "Can you hear them calling? Don't show them how you eat/They don't want what grows there, just the ground beneath." It turns out there is a Hawaiian blues after all.

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