Noted by his peers as one of the most soulful and powerful blues singers in the business today, 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 the independently released LP, "100 Miles to Go," later reissued on CD in the early '90s by the Belgium-based label, Blue Sting Records. With a new album in tow, the Pontiax soon hit the road, expanding their fan base globally with tours throughout the U.S., 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, 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 a backup band for 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. He's shared the stage with some of the biggest names in blues over the years with Stevie Ray Vaughan paying him the ultimate compliment given from one musician to another by asking, "Can I sit in?"
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 Delta Groove effort, "Nickels & Dimes," featuring guitar great Junior Watson, that his stock really began to rise. Kashmar was recognized two years in a row by the Blues Foundation with Blues Music Award nominations for Best New Artist Debut in 2006, followed by Best Instrumentalist-Harmonica in 2007.
While dividing time from his solo career, Kashmar also signed on for active duty with the touring incarnation of the classic '70s 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.
His latest release, “West Coast Toast,” heralds the arrival of Mitch Kashmar's long-awaited third studio album on Delta Groove. Despite the live recording “Live at Labatt” (2008) and a CD reissue of his early '80s era LP “100 Miles to Go” (2010), his fans had to wait ten years since his last full-length studio effort, “Wake Up & Worry” (2006). This time out, Kashmar pays tribute to his legacy, tipping his musical hat to the unique sounds of West Coast blues with a program of well-chosen covers mixed in with his own original compositions, all filtered through his own individualistic approach to the blues, and distilled down into the essence of what the blues is today. Together with the stellar backing musicianship of guitarist Junior Watson, pianist Fred Kaplan, bassist Bill Stuve and Marty Dodson on drums, Mitch Kashmar ably proves that the golden era of West Coast blues harmonica isn’t behind us – it’s still happening right now!