Concert Blends Blues, Bollywood, Barbecue

George Zeferes Aki Kumar brings his unique blend of Blues and Bollywood music to Rhythmix Cultural Works on Saturday, March 24.

Straight from India via San Jose, Rhythmix Cultural Works (RCW) presents Aki Kumar’s Bollywood Blues on Saturday, March 24. Kumar’s band demonstrates that down-home Chicago and Mississippi blues and Bollywood music have a lot in common and complement each other well. The evening will be further enhanced by delicious barbecue provided by Oakland Smoke Shack starting at 7 p.m.

Growing up in Mumbai, India, Kumar focused on academics but also studied classical Hindustani music and received a good foundation of traditional phrasing. Perhaps even more influential in the building blocks of his musical landscape was Bollywood music. He was surrounded by it at home and knew the songs well. He says they are “part of his being.”

Upon moving to San Jose to continue his academic career, Kumar was introduced to the Bay Area blues scene, where he fell in love with the soulful sound of the blues harmonica. 
Kumar threw himself into his new musical endeavors and quickly became a rising star in the West Coast blues scene. Once the blues had infused him, he decided to leave engineering and pursue music full time.  

For his Bollywood blues mash-ups, Kumar strengthens the underlying blues structure and uses American blues instrumentation for the songs. As for the melodies, Kumar knows all the lyrics and phrasing of the standard Bollywood songs very intimately from his youth.

American audiences may hear a “familiar twist” in his Bollywood covers, as blues structure is also common in 1950s Rock n’ Roll and many other easily recognizable genres. 

Aki Kumar’s Bollywood Blues Band performs in Alameda for one night only, Saturday, March 24. Barbecue served at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit www.rhythmix.org.