Indian-born, San Jose-based Aki Kumar, aka “The Only Bombay Blues Man,” left his home in Mumbai with the intention of working as a software engineer in Silicon Valley. Then he discovered the blues, and his life dramatically changed. With his Little Village Foundation debut, Aki Goes to Bollywood, he began integrating elements of Indian music into his musical and visual presentation, making for a multi-cultural mash-up that sounds like no one else, yet never loses touch with its blues foundation. Kumar’s follow-up album, Hindi Man Blues, boasts his most ambitious cross-cultural fusion to date, and features liner notes by veteran blues great Charlie Musselwhite. Kumar has performed at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, has been featured on PRI “The World,” and has toured in Russia and Scandinavia.
Aireene is a singer/songwriter playing mostly original songs accompanied by latin/african rhythms, folk, bluegrass pickings and inspirations from gospel music – a mix of stompin’, swayin’, and timeless Americana.
She was born in the Philippines and moved to the United States at 10 years old, growing up in the third culture: the old country, the new country and a blend of both worlds. Mainly influenced by listening to Alan Lomax’s field recordings from the South and growing up listening to her uncles’ Filipino folk guitar fingerpicking, her music is reminiscent of front porch storytelling, of ghosts and the living, times of laughter and tears. She tours solo as well as with her band as Aireene & The Itch, a mix of San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles musicians
Standing at five feet tall, Lauren Weintraub is proof that good things come in small packages. A “half-pint dynamite” to quote April Boyle of the Portland Press Herald, Lauren is a seasoned performer from Massachusetts displaying poise and grace while delivering clear, soaring vocals and an impressive range. Storytelling is what has always drawn Lauren into her writing along with her clever lyrics and crisp, expressive guitar and piano playing that lift her stories. Writing with depth well beyond her years, her razor-sharp musical instincts allow her to visualize music in a fresh way. She has a deep desire to share her songs with a broad audience and has recently released her new single, “So Predictable.” Lauren was a 2017 YoungArts winner in the Voice Singer/Songwriter category and the ICHSA committee has named her as an “Outstanding Soloist” twice. Lauren draws inspiration from artists such as Lori McKenna, Sara Bareilles, Ben Howard, Maren Morris, and Donovan Woods. She has a bright path ahead of her in the music industry and looks forward to collaborating with others. When she’s not writing or performing, you can find Lauren driving her blue mini cooper and figuring out how to jam more pairs of shoes into her dorm room.
Kate Schutt is a singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer living in New York City. Raised in Chadds Ford, PA, Kate was schooled in Boston, both in Harvard’s English department, where she studied the influence of jazz on modern poetry, and at Berklee College of Music, where she studied jazz guitar. A constant collaborator, Kate has worked with John Ellis (Charlie Hunter), Terri Lyne Carrington (Herbie Hancock), and Viktor Krauss (Lyle Lovett, Bill Frisell), to name only a few. In 2007 & 2009 Kate was the John Lennon Songwriting Contest Winner in the Jazz Category and received the ASCAP Plus Awards for Jazz Composition from 2006- 2009.
Vivacious singer/songwriter Raquel Telfer makes free-spirited music with clever lyrics, catchy melodies and deep grooves. Her handcrafted tunes vibrate with elements of southern roots music, folk, pop and country, celebrating strong-willed female storytellers who have inspired her, like Taylor Swift, Kacey Musgraves and Brandy Clark. A connected and authentic performer with an easily characterized, soul-baring voice, Raquel’s live show resonates with the same energy that rolls through her dynamic recordings. Her straight-talking, quirky songs overflow with homegrown vibes that tell vivid tales of heartbreak, self-discovery, evolution, love and hope and invite listeners to walk alongside her on her own journey.
R Michael Rhodes music is best described by one of his reviewers – “It’s a good thing Mike lives in Colorado because his music lives right between 70’s Laurel Canyon and today’s Nashville.” Michael’s music is not defined by one sound, and he does not limit his lyrical identity to one set of topics. His sound is a medley of Americana and Nashville Country-Rock, tipping its hat to artists such as James Taylor, John Denver, The Eagles, and Garth Brooks. It’s the kind of music you want to drive down sunset-painted highway, windows down, with the breeze rolling through. It’s lighthearted, “easy listening” feel and the storytelling lyrics give it an incredibly nostalgic quality that is hard not to like.
Smart and charming, Nashville based Singer/Songwriter Kelli Johnson captivates her audience with honest lyrics, an infectious smile, and pure talent. A superb vocalist, her use of vocal dynamics is exceptional and strong, transitioning from angelic balladeer to blues powerhouse flawlessly. Whether she’s performing a solo acoustic show, or with a full band, Kelli can hold her own as a solid rhythm guitarist. She has an extraordinary song list derived from Motown hits, to Country Classics to Rock and Roll with Gospel and Bluegrass favorites thrown in. In 2016, Kelli released her Third album ‘Hey Country” with multi-instrumentalist Barry Waldrep. Kelli and Barry toured the 2017 Christmas Season with Grammy Winning Artist John Berry for his 20th Anniversary Christmas Tour.