Taumei “Big John” Akapo is a
presence in Hawaii, not just in his physical stature, but in the commanding
nature of his soulful blues voice and ringing guitar playing that have
enthralled residents and visitors to the Islands for decades. With the release
of his debut CD, Paradise Blues,
from Mensch House Records, listeners from around the globe will get to
experience what all the excitement is about.
Paradise Blues showcases John Akapo at
his very best, with 10 songs that mix both his love of Delta blues and his
American Samoan DNA for a blend unlike any other performer in contemporary
blues/roots music. Produced by Akapo, the 10 tracks on his new disc include
seven originals, as well as his own unique take on songs from some of his
mentors, such as Robert Johnson’s “Ramblin’ on My Mind”, Muddy Waters’ “I
Can’t Be Satisfied,” and Tommy Johnson’s “Big Road Blues.”
John Akapo is a nomad who followed
the music from his early days as a kid growing up in Alaska, where he fell in
love with the guitar, to his youth spent in American Samoa singing acapella and
learning how to loop, John Akapo has been magnetically connected
to a path of musical discovery.
John immersed himself into the origins
of the blues and never looked back. Taking a cue from the legends like Robert Johnson,
Tommy Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Son House, Willie Dixon, Muddy
Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy, and B.B. King, he began to explore and absorb
as much as he could from recordings, movies, books and magazines. Blues had
become his solace.
Recording his own original
works, John began a professional career as a luau musician,
bandleader, solo entertainer, and more recently, a hip-hop producer and
vocalist for 13 years. When he sits down to write music, he always ends up with
a blues song.
“I think my music is like a tree rooted in
traditional blues but sprinkled with Pacific salt
water,” John explains.
On his musical
journey, John Akapo never turned his back on his Samoan heritage
or his Hawaiian roots, and his experiences on the Islands have helped shape him
as a person, as well as a guitarist. John embodies the spirit,
beauty, sadness, and struggle of the Islands with every guitar lick.