Meet San Jose musician Aki Kumar today, and he'll proudly introduce himself as “The Only Bombay Blues Man.”
But there was a time when Kumar, while making a name for himself on the Bay Area blues scene more than a decade ago, would intentionally downplay his Indian heritage. He wasn't so forthright about immigrating from Bombay -- now called Mumbai, and one of the world’s largest exporters of software engineers to the U.S. -- to find a new life in America as a software engineer.
“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,” says Kumar, 36, frontman and harmonica player for the Aki Kumar Blues Band.
But after more than a decade of playing with top-notch blues musicians and recording a rock-solid first album Don’t Hold Back (which garnered widespread accolades from the Los Angeles Times to Dan Aykroyd), Kumar is taking his love for the blues to unexpected places.