Dynamic frontman and harp player Aki Kumar is a rising star among the next generation of Bay Area blues artists. A student of the amplified Chicago blues sound, Kumar inherits his style from the harp legends of the 1950s and ’60s.
Kumar will be performing Saturday at the North Columbia Schoolhouse with his aptly titled Aki Kumar Blues Band. Born and raised in Bombay, India, Kumar established his mark on the West Coast blues scene starting in 2009 as frontman of the Bay Area’s highly acclaimed blues outfit Tip of the Top.
Kumar originally was not destined to become a blues player.
“I’m a software engineer by trade but blues has been a very serious passion for the last decade,” said Kumar. “Growing up in India, I had no exposure to blues, although I was somewhat musically inclined. I received instruction in traditional Hindustani music between the ages of 9 to 11. I believe it served me well when I took up music seriously later in life.”
Kumar has a unique voice in the blues, blending elements of blues harmonica pioneers of yesteryear with a signature sound of his own. His latest venture, The Aki Kumar Blues Band, involves several Bay Area blues luminaries — including guitarist Jonny Lawton — and has been the culmination of his journey through American roots music. The band performs vintage blues.
When not performing under his own name, Aki Kumar can also be found working with the heavy-hitting blues band, Little Jonny and The Giants.
Kumar has shared the stage with some of the finest contemporary blues greats: Kim Wilson, Joe Louis Walker, Ron Thompson, Little Charlie Baty, Junior Watson, Rod Piazza, Lazy Lester, Andy Just, Gary Smith, Rick Estrin, Mark Hummel, Charlie Musselwhite, Andy Santana, David Barrett, Lee Oskar and more.
Local blues player Marc Ryan will perform an opening set during the lead up to the show. Doors open at 7 p.m. for drinks and desserts, and the main performance will start at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $18 in advance and $20 at the door. Kids 12 and under are $12. Advance tickets are available at BriarPatch Co-op, Yabobo and Mother Truckers.
For more information, visit www.northcolumbiaschoolhouse.org.
To sample the music, visit www.akikumar.com, or check out a video in the online version of this story at TheUnion.com/Entertainment/.
For more information about the North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center, visit www.northcolumbiaschoolhouse.org, call 530-265-2826, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.