SHORT BIO Sony Music recording artist Aki Kumar left his native home in Mumbai, India for the United States with the intention of working as a software engineer. Then he discovered the sounds of the blues, and his life changed dramatically.
One of the hardest working artists on the live music scene today, this San Jose-based blues musician has successfully blended 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. He has made multiple appearances at The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, has been featured on PRI “The World,” and has toured in Russia, Scandinavia and South America.
Kumar's Little Village Foundation releases Aki Goes To Bollywood (2016) and Hindi Man Blues (2018) are considered ground-breaking albums that have garnered international critical acclaim. In 2020, Kumar made major news with the world-wide launch of his album Dilruba on Sony Music India.
DETAILED BIO Sony Music Recording artist 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 reached 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.’
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 2020, Kumar made major news with the world-wide launch of his album Dilruba on Sony Music India.
Hailed as a star among the next generation of West Coast blues artists and versatile in many different styles of roots music, Kumar is equally at ease rocking a Jimmy Reed number in English as he is belting out a signature, swingin' re-interpretation of a Bollywood classic in Hindi. Cleverly crafted originals featuring his masterful blues harmonica riffs are a highlight of this charismatic entertainer's, hi-energy live performances
"...breathtaking..."- Living Blues Magazine
"a must know artist!" - DissDash.com
"We like!" - SoundBox India
"joyfully innocent, energetic, enthusiastic..." - Bandook.com
"Check it out. I wouldn't steer you wrong."
- Charlie Musselwhite
"Really really really hot stuff!"
- Elwood Blues aka Dan Aykroyd
"FOUR STARS...the integrity of his music marks
the difference between novelty and substance"
- Downbeat Magazine
"Kumar is on the cutting-edge of blues today."
- Michael Kinsman, San Diego Blues Festival
"...leaps off that bridge into the unknown, and I love the heck out of it"
- Jim Washburn / OCWeekly.com
San Jose Jazz Festival 2019
The Bridges Festival, St. Petersburg 2019
Augusti Bluus, Estonia 2019
Gator By The Bay, San Diego 2019
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, San Francisco 2016, 2018
Live Oak Music Festival, Santa Barbara 2018
Mississippi Delta Blues Festival, Brazil 2018
San Jose Jazz Festival 2016
San Jose Fountain Blues Festival 2017
Portland Waterfront Blues Festival 2016, 2018
Poor House Bistro Lil' Easy Backyard Party, San Jose 2016