Jim Pugh has built a small musical empire by reversing the music industry’s foundational rules. Rather than extracting value from recordings by hoarding rights to the music, Pugh’s nonprofit Little Village Foundation label serves as a musical freeway, with artists retaining their intellectual property and proceeds from CD sales.
In just two years, Little Village has released an extraordinary roster of projects documenting overlooked artists in blues, gospel, folk, mariachi and country music. An Aug. 1 celebration at Berkeley’s Freight & Salvage marks the arrival of seven new albums, including the latest incarnation of Indian-born South Bay blues harmonica player Aki Kumar’s improbably effective synthesis of Bollywood and Southside Chicago, “Hindi Man Blues.”
Moscow-born, Los Angeles-based violinist Ada Pasternak plays music from her debut release “Sweet Dreams,” a tribute to her parents, who escaped Soviet persecution by moving to the United States. Powerhouse El Cerrito blues singer Marina Crouse also celebrates the release of her excellent debut album, “Never Too Soon,” which exemplifies the potent alliance between Little Village and Kid Andersen’s Greaseland Studios in San Jose.
Making his recording debut in a secular context after decades as a force in gospel music, vocalist Marcel Smith delivers a soul-steeped program on another excellent Greaseland production, “Everybody Needs Love.” The Central Valley’s Mariachi Mestizo presents four songs from last year’s triumphant Carnegie Hall performance and celebrates the release of the milestone-marking album “XX Aniversario.” And rising blues vocalist Whitney Shay, a two-time San Diego Music Award winner for best blues artist, delivers original songs from “A Woman Rules the World.”
Rounding out the lineup is United by Music North America (UBMNA), a Dutch concept brought to the U.S. by the late blues singer Candye Kane that pairs professional musicians with musically talented people with developmental challenges. In Jim Pugh’s Little Village, everyone’s welcome.
Details:8 p.m.; Freight & Salvage, Berkeley; $20-$24; 510-644-2020, www.thefreight.org.
– Andrew Gilbert
July 25, 2018