Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page

Shunsuke (pronounced: Shoon-soo-ke) "Shun" Kikuta was born in Utsunomiya-city, a Tokyo suburb in 1966.

At age 10 he began playing the classical-guitar under the tutelage of his father. He formed a musical group at the age of 15 years old, copying popular Japanese covers. He was first influenced by Western music with British and American Rock'n Roll, listening to Led Zeppelin, Toto and Van Halen.

In 1986, at the age 19, Shun moved to Boston and enrolled at the Berklee College of Music, one of the most renowned known jazz-popular music schools in the United States. While at Berklee, Shun studied jazz composition, arrangements, and harmonic theory. An epiphany came when a friend introduced Shun to B.B.King's "Live at the Regal"; one of the greatest blues recordings ever, this was destiny calling is name. Shun states, " The album hit me, man. It was so great. I just loved it. A whole lot of energy, emotions, feelings, just great," Shun described the impact of his first exposure to blues. "

From that point on, I was into blues really seriously," continued Shun. At Berklee, Shun jammed with Roy Hargrove (trumpet), Mark Turner (tenor sax), and Mark Whitfield (guitar). Perhaps it was also fate that George Benson; one of world's greatest jazz guitarists whom Shun credits as also having a tremendous influence on him, was guest of honor at Berklee's graduation ceremony and presented Shun with his diploma, yet another epiphany for Shun.

A week after graduating from Berklee in 1990, he moved to Chicago to play the Blues. But not before living it. Shun gained employment as a dishwasher and after only a few months on the job, he was laid off.

By day, he turned to the Chicago subway stations where, if lucky, he was able to earn enough money to pay for the transportation cost for the day, and a slice of pizza for his daily sustenance. By night, Shun would hang around blues clubs waiting like a predator to pounce on an opportunity to join a jam session. He landed his first blues gig playing weekly at Rosa's Lounge with the Louis Myers band.

In a way, moving to Chicago was a rebirth for Shun. Within six months, he found work with the blues legends such as Son Seals, Big Time Sarah, and Johnny Little John. However, in his quest to become one of the premier, un-heralded guitarists in the blues music industry, Shun journeyed to music experiences beyond Chicago.

In '92 he toured in Italy with the Chicago Blues Night Band, which featured Debra Farr, Kathy Davis and Tommy McCracken. He joined The US and Canada tour with the late Junior Well's band in '95, Charlie Musselwhite's Australia and New Zealand tour in '96, Otis Clay's Japan tour in '99, harmonica legend, James Cotton's Japan and Canada Tour in 2006. Shun also toured in Taiwan to perform at " Taiwan Blues Bash 2,3 and 4" from 2005 to 2007. He was featured as a headliner with Taiwan's own blues band, BoPoMoFo. In '98, '99, 2002, 2005 and 2007 he performed at the biggest free blues Festival in the world, the Chicago Blues festival with Chico Banks, Lee Oscar, Phil Guy, Nellie"Tiger"Travis, Fred Johnson, J.W Williams and Koko Taylor.

Over the years he has produced and collaborated on many blues recordings. Japanese King Records commissioned Shun to produce a blues CD by the Frank Collier Band's "Funky Blues" in 1994. Then he produced "Tribute to Magic Sam" (later released by Evidence Music in the USA) and his leading albums "They call me Shun" (later released as "Me and my Guitar" by Bluesox Label in the USA)," and "Chicago Midnight" in 1995 and 96. In 1996, when Shun attended "The Park Tower Blues Festival '96" in Tokyo with his own band, the two shows at Park Tower were recorded live and released as "Live! The 3rd Park Tower Blues Festival '96" Shun Kikuta & J.W. Williams (later was released as "Live and Kickin'" by Bluesox Label in the USA).

In 2000 Shun recorded an album with Nellie"Tiger"Travis, "Heart And Soul" (by M&I Company).

Shun's new CD "Rising Shun" has released on May 2007 by rising indy label "Yotsuba Records" in his hometown of Utsunomiya. The songs on the new album is a hybrid of music styles conveying the many facets of this most distinguished and versatile guitarist - soulful and explosive blues, smooth improvisational jazz, funky rhythm and blues and a hint of pop.

Shun also is appearing on Koko Taylor's latest Grammy Award nominated album "Old School".

In 2001 Rittor Music, Inc. produced an instructional DVD, "Chicago Blues Guitar" featuring Shun Kikuta. In the DVD, Shun teaches the guitar styles and techniques needed to play Chicago blues, such as rhythm patterns for 12-bar blues, basic solo techniques, 53 essential blues guitar licks, phrasing ideas and much more. Rittor Music, Inc. has commissioned Shun to produce another instructional DVD "R&B Guitar Techniques" and 2 books following the success of "Chicago Blues Guitar" instructional video.

The release of this book "Blues Guitar Jam Session 1 & 2" was in early spring 2004 and 2005.

Shun's latest epiphany came when he was asked to perform for the legendary B.B. King; "King of the Blues", An Evening with B.B. King, which was aired on PBS in February 2004. Mr. B.B. King said to Shun during the taping, 'If my life story is ever made, you could play me as young B.B.'

Now, 18 years later, while Shun still resides in Chicago, he is an internationally renowned musician traveling around the world entertaining audiences with his soulful, explosive, and heart-retching music. He crosses the globe including Europe, Bahamas, Central America, Asia, Oceania and Canada several times each year touring with Koko Taylor, "The Queen of Blues", J.W.Williams and his own group Shun Kikuta Band. - Show Schedules

He also has performed with such blues, soul and jazz legends as Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Johnny and Shemekia Copeland, Bo Didley, Robert Lockwood Jr, Hubert Sumlin, Tyrone Davis, Willie Clayton, Brian McKnight, Dave Myers, Irma Thomas, Denise LaSalle, Marva Wright, Roy Hargrove, Mark Turner, Mark Whitfeild, Kenny Wayne Shepperd, Mojo Buford, Lonnie Brooks, Eddy Clearwater, Marcia Ball, Kenny Neal, Billy Branch and Susan Tedeschi.

He has appeared on movie, radio and television shows around the world includes Martin Scorsese's historical "The Blues" movie project. He hosts a bi-monthly radio show, entitled, "Walk on the Blues Side" on SAKURA FM (Nishinomiya, Japan) and monthly radio show "Sunday Groove on CRT (Utsunomiya, Japan).

He is a guitar instructor and writes articles for several monthly and bi-monthly music magazines and news paper. Shun also plays gospel music at Mt Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in Gary, IN since 2004. Blues lovers know Shun as the explosive guitarist that plays with Koko Taylor, J.W Williams and his own group - he starts out like a slow pot cooking and works the crowd to hot boiling blues frenzy. Jazz lovers know Shun for his versatility and improvisational guitar style - his mastery of jazz time signatures can run from slow and mellow to intense and ferocious. He has an unprecedented style.