John Akapo

Paradise Blues

(Regime/Hensch House Records)



‘Big John’ Akapo comes from Hawaii and reportedly has delta blues and American Samoan in his DNA. Here he performs originals in with a few versions that show where he is coming from. Like many of us, John’s parents did not care for his music. But that was a spur to pursuing a dream..already I like this guy!

Starting with Ramblin’ On My Mind, Akapo observes the traditional delivery and phrasing but has an impressive gritty and warm singing style, comfortable with key. The acoustic guitar is steady and tuneful with neat slide. Unremarkable but accomplished.

On to Little Lani which is a Jimmy Reed tinged item with cupped harp in the mix, then Maui Drive a jaunty Estes-style outing. Muddy’s I Can’t Be Satisfied is next up, again traditionally paced and played and the voice delivers the song in pleasant mode.

Caramac Blues – and I find not all sweetshops stock ‘em – is a swinging country blues and puts me in mind of a less harsh Richie Havens in vocal tone. Fighting For Love brings us a ballad showing the best of Akapo’s voice. Firm but tender and sounding heartfelt. Easily the best cut here. Hindsight is very Robert Johnson and unless I’m mistaken centres on the plight of refugees. Lord Help Me rolls along with intent on a IV > I blues format, but no surprises.

Don’t Believe Her is more Old Timey Stuff about a dodgy female. Big Road Blues is the ancient Tommy Johnson tune, put over strongly. Yet again, an artist who is great to listen to BUT more curator than creator. Fighting For Love is the pick for this listener.

Pete Sargeant


John Akapo's new album 'Paradise Blues' is out now on Regime/Hensch House Records.

To purchase the album and for more information visit his official website here: