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West Coast harmonica player MITCH KASHMAR (1960/Santa Barbara, CA - ) is one of the California disciples who soaked up the sound and the soul of Chicago and Mississippi and Cali-customized it. His theory is the California harp scene started with Arkansas native George "Harmonica" Smith, who settled in L.A. soon after leaving Muddy Waters' band. "Rod [Piazza] got some of it and Kim Wilson got some," Kashmar says of Smith's fat, rounded tones, which often sounded more like an entire horn section than a man with a harmonica. "I got some of it from them." Like Wilson, The Fabulous Thunderbirds singer and harmonica legend, Kashmar grew up in Santa Barbara. "[Wilson] would come back at holiday time, climb down from the T-Birds and play gigs with us," says Kashmar, who played with Wilson in 1981 while the T-Birds were recording Butt Rockin'. "He's one of those guys who'll do it right up till it's over and then some."Read More...
Mitch Kashmar has come a long way since his youth in what is now often perceived as the quaint beachside community of Santa Barbara, CA. They've all known what the rest of the blues world is about to find out: Mitch Kashmar is a force to be reckoned with in the blues. Mitch Kashmar has been making a name for himself with his own albums and his appearances with rock and blues giants. Mitch Kashmar has shared the stage with some of the most influential blues musicians including John Lee Hooker, Big Joe Turner, Eddie 'Cleanhead' Vinson, Lowell Fulson, Jimmy Witherspoon, Pee Wee Crayton, Johnny Adams and many others.
While still attending high school, Mitch began sneaking into his first gigs with local bands in Santa Barbara using his brother's ID. By 1980, he formed his own group, The Pontiax, continuing to perform throughout the Santa Barbara and Southern California region. Around the mid-80s, Mitch made the move to Los Angeles and The Pontiax recorded "100 Miles to Go" for the Belgium label, Blue Sting Records. They soon went out on the road expanding their fan base globally with tours throughout the US, Canada, Europe and the South Pacific.
The musical styles of The Pontiax drew on a wide range of influences including Chicago Blues, New Orleans R&B, West Coast Jump Blues and Swing, Boogie Woogie, Louisiana Swamp Rock, Texas Blues and straight forward Jazz. The Pontiax also became very popular within the music community being called into action on stage as back up band with many legendary blues musicians such as Albert Collins, Charlie Musselwhite, Luther Tucker, Pinetop Perkins, William Clarke, Kim Wilson, Roy Gaines and many of the aforementioned artists.
Mitch's blues harp playing is second to none for creativity, drive and excitement. And he's also just as witty and imaginative in the role of songwriter. Moving on to a solo career recording "Crazy Mixed-Up World" in '99, Kashmar started making a name for himself and touring with his own band but it wasn't until his 2005 effort "Nickels & Dimes", featuring guitar great Junior Watson on Delta Groove Music's label, that his stock really began to rise. Kashmar was recognized two consecutive years in a row by the Blues Music Awards with nominations in 2006 as Best New Artist Debut and followed in 2007 as Best Instrumentalist - Harmonica.
When taking a break from his solo career, Mitch has also signed on for active duty with the latest touring incarnation of the classic 70's funk-rock band War, and even made rock 'n' roll history appearing onstage alongside legendary British rocker Eric Burdon & War for a reunion concert held on April 21, 2008 at London's Royal Albert Hall.