Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page

Since the formation of Tip of the Top in early 2009, it has grown to become one of the most talked about bands in the San Francisco Bay Area. The band's musical style is reminiscent of the 1950s and their live show contains many of the musical elements that have come to be known as American Roots Music. Tip of the Top's debut CD Depot Street Blues, which has been well received by both fans and blues music critics, is but a small sampling of the many musical styles that you will experience at a live show. 

The music from the 1950s has had many different names. It has been called the blues, rock n roll and rhythm and blues. But no matter what you call it, Tip of the Top brings this music to life like few other bands in the Bay Area. So if you love to get up and dance or if you like to sit back and groove to some infectious blues, Tip of the Top is the band for you. 
Check out one of their upcoming shows and get the experience for yourself!

Jon Lawton has been a veteran of the California blues scene for over two decades. His blues influences included Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Johnny Shines, John Nicholas, Asleep at the Wheel, Elmore James, Robert Johnson and all the King family guitarists. Johnny also cites The Stones, Grateful Dead, David Bromberg, Bonnie Raitt, Pink Floyd, Buddy Rich, Count Basie, Frank Zappa among his early musical influences. 

Prior to moving to the Golden State, Jon toured the mid-west with various popular regional blues/funk bands and backed up luminaries such as Luther Allison and John Hammond. Shortly after arriving in Santa Barbara, he joined its premier blues band The Pontiax, garnering rave reviews across the US, Europe, Canada. In 1990, Jon moved on to form Little Jonny and The Giants, which developed a solid SoCal following and performed at numerous venues and festivals with heavyweights such as Kim Wilson, John Hammond, James Harman, Gregg Allman, Koko Taylor, Fenton Robinson, Mighty Joe Young, Charlie Musselwhite, Magic Slim, Bob Dylan, Sista Monica and Anson Funderburgh. Jon is now settled in the SF Bay Area where Little Jonny and the Giants continue releasing terrific CDs, performing all over California and collaborating with great artists such as Tom Ball, Paris Slim, RJ Mischo and many others!

Frank DeRose 
Frank De Rose, a fixture in the Bay Area blues scene for over 25 years, has collaborated with The Who's-who of the area's top blues artists including: Gary Smith, Tommy Castro, Mark Hummel, Kenny Ray, John Garcia, Mike Shermer, Sid Morris. Over the years, Frank has also provided his bass playing skills to a long list of national touring blues acts such as Snooky Prior, Otis Rush, Johnny Heartsman, Little John Chrisley, Nick Gravenites, Andy Just, Chris Cain, Rusty Zinn, Jr. Watson, John Garcia, David Barrett, Jackie Payne, Larry Davis, Mississippi Johnny Waters, Johnny Adams, Luther Tucker, Andy Santana, "Might" Mo Rogers, Eddie Shaw, Mike Wheeler, Nellie "Tiger" Travis Curtis Salgado .. the list goes on. 

A short list of Frank's notable performances include several San Francisco Blues Festivals along with several of the San Francisco Battle of the Harps, multiple performances at the Monterey Blues Festival, San Jose State Fountain Blues Festival, JJ's Blues Festival, Santa Cruz Blues Festival, San Jose Jazz Festival, The Legends of Chicago Blues at Villa Montalvo and the California Blues Legends show.

Born and raised in Bombay, India, but now settled in San Jose, Aki Kumar is an up and coming harmonica player on the Bay Area scene. He has been a devoted fan of the Chicago Blues since 2003 and under the guidance of harp guru David Barrett, has studied and absorbed the styles of harp greats such as Little Walter, George Smith and Sonny Boy Williamson II. Aki seeks to take his music in new directions, while keeping alive the spirit of the old masters. 

Over the last couple of years, Aki has shared the stage with numerous blues musicians including Gary Smith, Mark Hummel, Rich Estrin, Charlie Musselwhite, Andy Santana, Andy Just, John Nemeth, Rusty Zinn, Kid Andersen, Charles Wheal, Screamin' Iain, Sid Morris, John Garcia, "Little" Jonny Lawton, Kenny Blue Ray, Johnny Cat, Russell Barber, Jimmy Dewrance, Ben & Nathan, to list a few. 

Aki Kumar is a Seydel endorsed artist and plays Seydel 1847 Classic harmonicas at his shows.

Bay area native Carlos Velasco stumbled onto the local blues scene 7 years ago; that's when he first picked up a pair of sticks! Shortly thereafter, he joined forces with harpist Dennis Carelli who worked at Dave Barrett's School of the Blues in San Jose. It was through his association with the School that Carlos met many legendary and "up and coming" blues greats! He has had the good fortune to work with many local bluesmen, including Dave Barrett, John Garcia, Frank DeRose, Gary Smith, Kenny Blue Ray, Sid Morris, Ron Thompson, Screamin' Iain, Isis, and of course, Jay and the Po' Boyz, just to name a few. Carlos has been drumming regularly for the After Dark Blues Band, the KFB Blues Band, and now Tip of the Top! 

Lately, Carlos has been studying with the phenomenal Wally Schnalle, a bay area drum master! Check Wally out at Among his main influences as a drummer, Carlos lists Dennis Carelli, Frank DeRose, Dave Barrett, and Wally Schnalle.