Press

LVF SUMMER SHOWCASE AT THE FREIGHT AUGUST 1 – 6 SINGERS AND A MARIACHI

On August 1st, Little Village Foundation will celebrate the release of 7 new LVR releases at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, CA with a Summer Showcase performance featuring LVF artists Ada Pasternak, Aki Kumar, Marcel Smith, Marina Crouse, Mariachi Mestizo, Maurice Tani, Whitney Shay. Six singers and a Mariachi! Doors open at 6:00 and [...]

LVF SUMMER SHOWCASE AT THE FREIGHT AUGUST 1 – 6 SINGERS AND A MARIACHI2018-07-19T19:14:16+00:00

BLUES JUNCTION: Artist Spotlight: Little Village Foundation and Founder Jim Pugh

Jim Pugh, who many of our readers know as the longtime keyboard player in the Robert Cray Band, has recently embarked on a very exciting and interesting endeavor called the Little Village Foundation. I sat down with Jim recently and we talked about this project, his life in music and his own road to the [...]

BLUES JUNCTION: Artist Spotlight: Little Village Foundation and Founder Jim Pugh2018-07-12T01:37:49+00:00

KPCC TUESDAY REVIEWSDAY: Aki Kumar

Aki Goes to Bollywood, is an unexpected and unexpectedly wonderful meeting of American blues and Indian pop. The meeting happened, though, in California’s Bay Area. The project is part of the Little Village Foundation’s mission to uncover the hidden cultures and music of the state. Other releases have covered folk, blues, mariachi and Latin American [...]

KPCC TUESDAY REVIEWSDAY: Aki Kumar2018-07-02T02:31:27+00:00

PRI’S THE WORLD: Aki Kumar “I wanted to be bigger than Bill Gates — but I fell in love with the blues”

LISTEN TO THE COMPLETE INTERVIEW Aki Kumar moved to Silicon Valley at the age of 18. His goal, like many others, was to be a successful software engineer. But, something happened along the way. Kumar discovered the blues — the music of Howlin' Wolf and of blues clubs in the San Francisco Bay area. Eventually, [...]

PRI’S THE WORLD: Aki Kumar “I wanted to be bigger than Bill Gates — but I fell in love with the blues”2018-07-02T01:41:35+00:00

ELMORE MAGAZINE: Marcel Smith ‘Everybody Needs Love’

The eclectic nonprofit record label Little Village Foundation, which exists to shine a light on underground artists in and near California, has found its voice. From a young age, Marcel Smith’s dynamic vocals—transitioning from smooth, tender and soulful to raw and feverishly uplifting in short order—have electrified churchgoers for years with undeniable conviction and passion. [...]

ELMORE MAGAZINE: Marcel Smith ‘Everybody Needs Love’2018-07-19T19:17:53+00:00

METRO ACTIVE: Bollywood Blues: Channeling Memphis and Mumbai, Aki Kumar Crafts a Bi-Continental Sound

The blues is a beguiling art form. Tangled up in this country’s legacy of slavery and oppression it is first and foremost a folk tradition. It requires no formal training to play and can be sung without instrumental accompaniment. And yet, its simplicity often obscures its power and scope. Though it is most certainly a [...]

METRO ACTIVE: Bollywood Blues: Channeling Memphis and Mumbai, Aki Kumar Crafts a Bi-Continental Sound2018-07-02T01:53:17+00:00

NO DEPRESSION: The Little Village Foundation finds music that needs to be heard

… More recently, I’ve learned that the greatest musicians and songwriters may live right across the street. That’s also the view of veteran blues keyboardist and founder of Little Village foundation Jim Pugh, who told me that great talent is too often hidden in our towns and cities, far from the spotlight so often reserved [...]

NO DEPRESSION: The Little Village Foundation finds music that needs to be heard2018-07-03T22:51:29+00:00

SF GATE: Hardly Strictly Bluegrass: Best moments from Sunday

(Luna Soleil dances with a hula hoop during the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass music festival in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California, on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016.) Little Village Foundation Presents ... Veteran keyboardist and producer Jim Pugh brought out some of the Bay Area’s finest to not one, but two stages for three hours [...]

SF GATE: Hardly Strictly Bluegrass: Best moments from Sunday2018-07-02T01:08:37+00:00

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: Aki Kumar fuses blues and Bollywood

Aki Kumar was sure the whole idea was a big mistake. Born and raised in Mumbai, he discovered the blues after moving to the United States, and quit his day job as a software engineer three years ago to focus on his burgeoning career as a harmonica player and vocalist on the South Bay blues [...]

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: Aki Kumar fuses blues and Bollywood2018-07-02T01:04:17+00:00

SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose: Talent scout has knack for finding gifted musicians just ‘across the street’

Seven old-school Sugar Pie DeSanto songs, three Filipino folk songs and a lot of traditional blues. Out of Delano, Calif., youth mariachi band Mariachi Mestizo, led by Juan Morales, will release “Te Doy La Libertad.” Sixteen boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 18 sing and play their hearts out for a vintage [...]

SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose: Talent scout has knack for finding gifted musicians just ‘across the street’2018-07-02T01:26:29+00:00

KQED THE CALIFORNIA REPORT: Three New Releases by Boundary-Bending Bay Area Artists

One of my favorite new albums is Oakland folk singer Aireene Espiritu’s “Back Where I Belong,” a project focusing on songs by or associated with Bay Area R&B great Sugar Pie DeSanto. It’s one of four new roots-music-with-a-twist projects released by the pianist Jim Pugh’s Little Village Foundation. The CD that’s gotten the lion’s share [...]

KQED THE CALIFORNIA REPORT: Three New Releases by Boundary-Bending Bay Area Artists2018-07-04T02:28:38+00:00

DOWNBEAT: Aki Kumar ‘Aki Goes To Bollywood’

3 1/2 STARS Aki Kumar, a smart Chicago-style harmonica player born in Mumbai but long based in San Jose, dovetails Indian pop songs from Bollywood with the rhythms and spirit of the blues. He whets his imagi-nation on hear-it-to-believe-it “Eena Meena Deeka” and 10 other tunes recorded with help from friends like guitarist (and sitar [...]

DOWNBEAT: Aki Kumar ‘Aki Goes To Bollywood’2018-07-02T01:38:17+00:00

SF GATE: Aireene Espiritu on the road with a ukulele

Like the subject of “Bag Woman,” a song she wrote and recorded in 2014, Aireene Espiritu has no house or apartment of her own. She does have a car — a 2005 Prius — that she uses to travel from gig to gig along a route that includes Northern and Southern California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho [...]

SF GATE: Aireene Espiritu on the road with a ukulele2018-07-04T02:07:45+00:00

KQED: Blowin’ the Blues Bollywood-Style with Aki Kumar

Meet San Jose musician Aki Kumar today, and he'll proudly introduce himself as “The Only Bombay Blues Man.” But there was a time when Kumar, while making a name for himself on the Bay Area blues scene more than a decade ago, would intentionally downplay his Indian heritage. He wasn't so forthright about immigrating from [...]

KQED: Blowin’ the Blues Bollywood-Style with Aki Kumar2018-07-02T02:05:26+00:00

HYPERALLERGIC: World Music Doesn’t Exist: Aki Kumar ‘Aki Goes To Bollywood’

There are critics out there made so uncomfortable by how foreign music is marketed to Western listeners, especially Europeans, that they’ve sworn off any sort of foreign style — charming music, maybe, but to like it would contribute to imperialism, colonialism, fetishization of the Other, and such. One shouldn’t blame the music for its marketing, [...]

HYPERALLERGIC: World Music Doesn’t Exist: Aki Kumar ‘Aki Goes To Bollywood’2018-07-02T02:21:08+00:00

THE CLASSICAL ARTS: John “Blues” Boyd Is ‘The Real Deal’ When It Comes to the Mississippi Blues

Mississippi-born musician John "Blues" Boyd is The Real Deal when it comes to blues music. The soulful septuagenarian, now based in California, just released a new album staked on this swaggering attestation of showmanship. Boyd plays the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest this month to back up his artistically audacious claim. The Real Deal, recorded [...]

THE CLASSICAL ARTS: John “Blues” Boyd Is ‘The Real Deal’ When It Comes to the Mississippi Blues2018-07-04T03:26:19+00:00

KOIN: Waterfront Blues Festival Day 4: Mariachi Mestizo, Aireene Espiritu & Aki Kumar

Though the official start of the final day of the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival doesn't happen until noon, bands and fans were there very early. The Mariachi Mestizo group arrived early and showed their style and support. It also isn't hard to find people who regularly attend all 4 days of the Safeway Waterfront Blues [...]

KOIN: Waterfront Blues Festival Day 4: Mariachi Mestizo, Aireene Espiritu & Aki Kumar2018-07-04T03:16:41+00:00

NO DEPRESSION: Village Undertaking: Aireene Espiritu Pays Tribute to Sugar Pie DeSanto

California-based troubadour Aireene Espiritu has been a favorite on the folk circuit for some years, releasing several acclaimed CDs of her own original music and touring extensively throughout the US and in Europe. Now she's putting her mark on the blues, having been tapped by Jim Pugh, founder of Little Village Foundation, a non-profit producer [...]

NO DEPRESSION: Village Undertaking: Aireene Espiritu Pays Tribute to Sugar Pie DeSanto2018-07-04T02:59:58+00:00

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: Jim Pugh on found music in the Bay Area

Jim Pugh, the veteran keyboard player who toured the world with Etta James and Robert Cray and now roams the Central Valley and Bay Area byways looking for unknown musicians to savor and record, first heard the Filipino American singer Aireene Espiritu a few years ago at the Folk Alliance conclave in Oakland. She was [...]

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: Jim Pugh on found music in the Bay Area2018-07-02T00:56:50+00:00

ALL ABOUT JAZZ: Aireene Espiritu ‘Back Where I Belong’

How can someone go back to where they have never been? How can a ukulele playing folk singer accomplish searing blues and soul vocals with such sincere expression and emotion? These are just two of the mysteries surrounding Aireene Espiritu. Her release Back Where I Belong, reveals the answers, and much more. Though Espiritu has [...]

ALL ABOUT JAZZ: Aireene Espiritu ‘Back Where I Belong’2018-07-04T02:40:41+00:00

INDIA CURRENTS: What America Sounds Like: The music of Aki Kumar and Aireene Espiritu

Talent “that wouldn’t otherwise be heard” is what Jim Pugh, founder of Little Village Foundation, looks for and then goes about promoting. “It’s like pebbles on the beach. You pick up one and it’s beautiful, but when you hold four together the commonality emerges. It’s breathtaking, and the bigger picture of what America really sounds [...]

INDIA CURRENTS: What America Sounds Like: The music of Aki Kumar and Aireene Espiritu2018-07-02T02:48:38+00:00

HUFFINGTON POST: Upward Spirals and Beyond: Aireene Espiritu

When Jim Pugh [founder, Little Village Foundation] asked if I’d be interested in recording Sugar Pie DeSanto’s songs, I was open to it, thought it might be a really fun project, especially being something different from my usual folk scene. I had seen Sugar Pie live many years ago at a blues festival in Ashland, [...]

HUFFINGTON POST: Upward Spirals and Beyond: Aireene Espiritu2018-07-04T02:52:01+00:00

GRATEFUL WEB: Little Village Foundation Brings American Backroads Music To The Masses

In the day and age of instant discovery of new music on the Internet, it's easy to assume that all emerging artists utilize YouTube, Spotify, and social media as their primary ticket to stardom. It's 2016, throngs of artists have launched their careers online over the past quarter of a century. But what about those [...]

GRATEFUL WEB: Little Village Foundation Brings American Backroads Music To The Masses2018-07-02T01:19:31+00:00

THE BLUES MOBILE: Elwood’s Blues Breaker Wee Willie Walker

William Walker, known as Wee Willie Walker, was a member of the gospel group, the Redemption Harmonizers when they traveled from Memphis to Minneapolis in 1960. When the group left, he stayed. His voice has been featured on many soul and gospel tracks over the years. But he never had much luck in the recognition [...]

THE BLUES MOBILE: Elwood’s Blues Breaker Wee Willie Walker2018-07-04T03:43:32+00:00

NO DEPRESSION: A Voice that Finally Gets to Shine; Wee Willie Walker

Serendipity played a huge part in this disc and it seems to simply grow from there. Rick Estrin was introduced to this singer’s music by Walker’s manager, he loved and recognized the voice from his days as a youngster growing up and getting interested in music. He fell in love with what he was hearing, [...]

NO DEPRESSION: A Voice that Finally Gets to Shine; Wee Willie Walker2018-07-04T03:40:33+00:00

NEW CLASSICS UK: Dave Ellis ‘Any Luck But Bad’

As a boy raised outside Taft, California, Dave Ellis at 10 years old was already working with horses. His father worked in the oil fields in nearby Bakersfield and later Dave would follow along in his footsteps, working in the oilfields just like his dad. In the 1950’s he was witness to the birthing of [...]

NEW CLASSICS UK: Dave Ellis ‘Any Luck But Bad’2018-07-12T00:53:47+00:00

MIDWEST RECORD RECAP: Dave Ellis – With Any Luck But Bad

When it comes to cowboy music, if you aren’t really into the culture, which runs pretty deep, you only really know polar opposites like Ian Tyson and Michael Martin Murphey. Ellis, a real old time cowboy, might fall somewhere in the great middle between the two but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t make a mark. [...]

MIDWEST RECORD RECAP: Dave Ellis – With Any Luck But Bad2018-07-12T00:56:37+00:00

MIDWEST RECORD RECAP: Ron Thompson ‘Son of Boogie Woogie

An itinerant electric bluesman, Thompson was once the virtual house band for the Oakland chapter of Hell's Angels but he couldn't parlay that into the success Doobie Brothers found as the house band for a biker bar and kept rolling down the line to the next gig like a true itinerant bluesman. Gathering praise from [...]

MIDWEST RECORD RECAP: Ron Thompson ‘Son of Boogie Woogie2018-07-12T01:40:14+00:00

KQED THE CALIFORNIA REPORT: New Albums from the Golden State: Los Tres Amigos – Snuviko

With us all having recording studios in our pockets and everything we capture put on YouTube within minutes, the notion of an Alan Lomax or Arhoolie Records’ Chris Strachwitz intrepidly making field recordings to preserve cultural music expressions, seems anachronistic if not obsolete. "The Three Friends from Where the Clouds Descend" by the trio Los [...]

KQED THE CALIFORNIA REPORT: New Albums from the Golden State: Los Tres Amigos – Snuviko2018-07-12T00:59:47+00:00

ALL ABOUT JAZZ: Ron Thompson ‘Son Of Boogie Woogie’

The Little Village Foundation is a non-profit record label started up under the direction of keyboardist Jim Pugh, who recently retired after twenty-five years with Robert Cray. The mission of this organization is to seek and record obscure yet prodigious musicians who have not received proper recognition and respect. Oakland guitarist Ron Thompson certainly falls [...]

ALL ABOUT JAZZ: Ron Thompson ‘Son Of Boogie Woogie’2018-07-12T01:21:17+00:00

MIDWEST RECORD RECAP: Los Tres Amigos – Snuviko: Three Friends from Where the Clouds Descend

LOS TRES AMIGOES-SNUVIKO/Three Friends from Where the Clouds Descend: This might be pretty wild. Back when the earth was cooling, we used to hitch hike to school. For some reason, a Latino family ‘adopted' us on our morning trek and, since they stopped or us almost everyday, we saved a load in bus fare. They [...]

MIDWEST RECORD RECAP: Los Tres Amigos – Snuviko: Three Friends from Where the Clouds Descend2018-07-12T01:05:51+00:00