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.