Indian-born, San Jose-based Aki Kumar, aka "The Only Bombay Blues Man," left his home in Mumbai with the intention of working as a software engineer in Silicon Valley. Then he discovered the blues, and his life dramatically changed. With his Little Village Foundation debut, Aki Goes to Bollywood, he began integrating elements of Indian music into his musical and visual presentation, making for a multi-cultural mash-up that sounds like no one else, yet never loses touch with its blues foundation. Kumar’s follow-up album, Hindi Man Blues, boasts his most ambitious cross-cultural fusion to date, and features liner notes by veteran blues great Charlie Musselwhite. Kumar has performed at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, has been featured on PRI “The World,” and has toured in Russia and Scandinavia.


Indian-born,  San  Jose-based  Aki  Kumar,  aka  “The  Only  Bombay  Blues  Man,”  left  his  home  in  Mumbai  with  the  intention  of  working  as  a  software  engineer  in  Silicon  Valley.  Then  he  discovered  the  blues,  and  his  life  dramatically  changed.  Singing  and  playing  harmonica,  he  steeped  himself  in  the  music  and  became  a  fixture  in  blues  clubs  throughout  Northern  California,where  he  developed  an  unique,  audacious  blend  of  Chicago-style  blues  which  then  led  to  playing  retro  Bollywood  pop  mixed  with  the  blues.

When  he  began  performing,  Kumar  initially  attempted  to  downplay  his  ethnicity  and  perform  straight,  Chicago-style  blues.  “I  wanted  to  make  a  statement  that  I  was  a  traditional  blues  man,  so  I  wanted  to  be  playing  blues  and  have  nobody  even  wonder  where  I  came  from.”  His  attitude  soon  changed,  and  with  his Little  Village  Foundation  debut,  Aki  Goes  to  Bollywood,  he  began  integrating  elements  of  Indian  music  into  his  musical  and  visual  presentation,  making  for  a  multi-cultural  mash-up  that  sounds  like  no  one  else,  yet  never  loses  touch  with  its  blues  foundation.  That  unique  blend  of  East  and  West  reaches  a  new  creative  plateau  on  Aki’s  second  Little  Village  Foundation  album,  Hindi  Man  Blues,  which  boasts  Aki’s  most  ambitious  cross-cultural  fusion  to  date,  and  features  liner  notes  by  veteran  blues  great  Charlie  Musselwhite.

“My  first  album  was  really  about  my  identity,”  the  artist  states.  “Now  I  feel  it  is  time  to  be  more  direct  about  what’s  happening  out  there  in  the  world.  The  blues  scene  is  my  home,  and  the  scene  can  be  pretty  conservative,  but  I  want  people  to  know  where  I  stand.  There’s  a  good  amount  of  focus  on  Bollywood  classics  on  the  new  album,  and  I  even  throw  in  a  song  about  President  Trump  called  ‘All  Bark  No  Bite.’  The  production  and  arrangements  are  tighter  this  time  around.  ‘Yoh  Surmayi  Shaam’  has  lyrics  that  my  mom  wrote  and  sings,  she  turned  75  this  year  and  it’s  a  really  nice  way  to  represent  her  musical  contribution  to  my  life.  We  also  do  a  version  of  Herbie  Hancock’s  ‘Watermelon  Man.’

”Kumar’s  visionary  stylistic  mix  has  already  won  him  widespread  attention.  In  addition  to  the  local  blues  venues,  where  he’s  built  an  enthusiastic  audience,  he’s  performed  at  the  prestigious  Hardly  Strictly  Bluegrass  festival,  been  featured  on  PRI  “The  World,”  and  has  toured  in  Russia  and  Scandinavia.  Now,  after  spending  more  than  a  decade  developing  his  sound  with  the  help  of  some  of  the  Bay  Area’s  finest  blues  players,  Aki  Kumar  continues  to  take  his  love  for  the  blues  to  new  and  fascinating  place.

“In  a  musical  sense,  this  album  is  the  direction  that  my  career  is  heading  towards.  I’m  never  going  to  be  a  straightahead  blues  artist.  I  worked  really  hard  to  establish  some  blues  credibility,  and  now  I’m  seeing  that  blues  fans  are  really  accepting  of  my  new  direction.  It’s  a  pretty  interesting  adventure.”

"...breathtaking..."- Living Blues Magazine

"Check it out. I wouldn't steer you wrong." - Charlie Musselwhite

"Kumar is on the cutting-edge of blues today."- Michael Kinsman, San Diego Blues Festival

"FOUR STARS...the integrity of his music marks the difference between novelty and substance" - Downbeat Magazine

"speaks to the height of creativiy and fearlessness" - David Mac / Blues Junction

"... leaps off that bridge into the unknown, and I love the heck out of it"
- Jim Washburn /


An unprecedented mashup of Retro Bollywood Music & American Blues

Aki Kumar is no stranger to living double lives. The now professional harmonica player grew up in Mumbai, India and studied traditional Hindustani music at the age of 9 years old. The pursuit of a college degree in the USA landed him at San Jose State in California in 1999, followed by a steady “day job” as a software engineer. But, by night, Aki had begun exploring and hanging out at blues clubs in the SF Bay Area, and was especially drawn to the wailing, toneful sound of the blues harmonica. He soon began performing his own brand of Chicago blues at local venues and is now hailed as one of the top rising stars of the West Coast Blues scene. 2016 marks a milestone for Aki as he’s spent half his life in India and half in the United States. His debut album for Little Village Foundation, Aki Goes To Bollywood, is a true representation of his musical DNA — classic 1950s/60s Bollywood and down-home American blues. Recorded at San Jose's world renowned Greaseland studios and co-produced by Aki Kumar along with multiple-BMA nominee/winner Kid Andersen and Little Village Foundation's Jim Pugh, this project features outstanding music delivered by the SF Bay Area's finest blues musicians.

Though some instrumental albums and DJs have attempted to rearrange Bollywood music mixed with other genres, never before has an Indian blues musician so triumphantly recorded songs by the film industry’s biggest stars such as Mohammad Rafi, Kishore Kumar, R.D. Burman, and S.D. Burman. Aki Kumar notes, “I realized that many of the Indian songs I loved had, in fact, been influenced by American blues music and I wanted to bring them together.” Aki Goes To Bollywood blends sitars with Delta blues jams, Hindi vocals with ferocious harp playing. Aki has single-handedly created Mumbai Meets Muddy, his own blues movement. For the album’s cover, Aki emulates his childhood hero and mega-star, Amitabh Bachchan.

"Really really really hot stuff... it is a barn burner."  

Elwood Blues aka Dan Aykroyd,

"Aki Kumar has combined the two disparate genres in an unforced musical fusion never before attempted and has pulled it off with breathtaking aplomb."

Lee Hildebrand, Living Blues Magazine

"This isn’t so much east meets west. It is east smashes into west (or visa versa) on a muddy road somewhere in Mississippi or Calcutta… represents the height of creativity and fearlessness..."

David Mac, Blues Junction Productions

"...the songs find a great balance between the styles, the best featuring stinging guitar lines, roiling piano, hard-four beats and Kumar’s blowzy harp fitting perfectly with the buoyant froth of some classic Bollywood production numbers...It’s Chicago deep-dish pizza — masala style."

Take Two, Tuesday Reviewsday, KPCC 89.3FM