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CITY RAISES FINE TO

$500 FOR THOSE CAUGHT
USING FIREWORKS
FIRST TIME
Form will be set up on website
to report violators
BY JULIA BAUM
176

$1.00

Volume 13, Issue 34 June 10, 2016 www.community-newspapers.com
PHOTOGRAPH BY JACQUELINE RAMSEYER

L

ight up some fireworks in San Jose this summer
and expect to pay a fine of $500 if caught for the
first time and up to $1,000 if caught more often.
And don’t expect much sympathy from neighbors
because they very well could be the ones who reported
the illegal act.
In an effort to crack down on people who defy the
city’s ban against setting off sparklers, bottle rockets,
Roman candles and all other types of fireworks, the
San Jose City Council on April 12 increased fines from
$350 to $500 for a first offense, $700 for a second offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.
It also authorized a July 1-5 pilot program in which
neighbors are encouraged to report anyone spotted
using fireworks to an anonymous tips form on the
city’s website.
In 2014, a memo co-authored by District 10 Councilman Johnny Khamis said the city received more than
2,000 complaints about illegal fireworks in June and
July that year.
Residents in neighborhoods with older woodframe houses vulnerable to catching fire and those in
Almaden Valley’s open space areas are particularly
upset by the fireworks.
“A lot of times people will complain, ‘There’s
people out there popping off fireworks, scaring my
dog’...usually things of that nature,” Khamis told the
Resident. “Usually very loud, explosive noises in the
neighborhood are the calls we get. We get a gamut of
complaints, from noise to the fear of fire spreading,
especially because we have Quicksilver Park in the
area. Usually this time of year the brush is very dry.”
The city is usually “inundated” with complaints
during the weeks before and after Independence Day,
Khamis said, although the free fireworks show at
Almaden Lake has helped cool off some of the public’s
enthusiasm for setting off their own explosives.
“Ever since we started our Almaden Lake fireworks...it’s gone down about 10 to 15 percent,” Khamis
said of complaints.
The city’s fireworks ban has been in effect for years,
but a citywide shortage of police officers has made

Tuning
back

Fireworks, page 7

Market returns to same spot June 25 ........... page 5

Finding musicians
through word
of mouth

Wonderland Fashion: Costumes encouraged

page 12

By Popular Demand: The Willow Glen Farmers’

for this year’s Anne and Mark’s Art Party..... page 18
Silicon Valley Community Newspapers $1.00

Blues harpist and singer Aki Kumar blends Bollywood and blues in his latest album, “Aki Goes to
Bollywood.” Kumar records in San Jose at Greaseland for the Little Village Foundation, a nonprofit
music label that gives smaller roots music a platform.

PHOTOGRAPH BY JACQUELINE
RAMSEYER

Blues harpist and singer Aki
Kumar blends Bollywood
and blues in his latest album,
“Aki Goes to Bollywood.”
Kumar records in San
Jose at Greaseland for the
Little Village Foundation, a
nonprofit music label that
gives smaller roots music a
platform.

John “Blues” Boyd, second
from left, performs at Little
Lou’s BBQ in Campbell.
COURTESY PHOTO

The art of making connections
Talent scout has knack for finding gifted musicians just ‘across the street’
By LEETA-ROSE BALLESTER

Photographs by JACQUELINE RAMSEYER

I

n a world of overnight
YouTube sensations and
short-lived Internet ear
worms where seemingly
everyone is vying to be discovered, there’s still a wealth of local talent playing music just for
the sake of playing music.
And Jim Pugh knows how and
where to look for those musicians.

Pugh, executive director of
the nonprofit label Little Village
Foundation and longtime keyboardist with the Robert Cray
Band, doesn’t scout for great
guitarists, harmonica players or
singers. He finds them in a more
serendipitous fashion.
“It’s sort of an organic process...great music can be found

12 SILICON VALLEY COMMUNITY NEWSPAPERS JUNE 10, 2016

across the street,” he said.
His goal isn’t to turn people
into superstars; rather, it’s to
“return back to another time”
when folks gathered to listen in
on backyard jam sessions or assemble around the family piano,
as he had.
“We need to spend time finding what’s around us,” Pugh

said, “and a lot of people are not
looking to be found.”
Mainly by word of mouth,
Pugh has made connections
with artists from neighborhoods
throughout Bay Area cities and
the Central Valley.
The next round of full-length
studio recordings are set for
release July 15. Unlike arrange-

ments with most record companies, the artists own their
intellectual property. Pugh just
wants them to be heard.
Among the summer release
artists, Aireene Espiritu of Oakland will debut her album “Back
Where I Belong,” featuring

Indy Blues, page 13
176

Indy Blues
Continued from page 12
seven old-school Sugar Pie DeSanto songs, three Filipino folk
songs and a lot of traditional
blues. Out of Delano, Calif.,
youth mariachi band Mariachi
Mestizo, led by Juan Morales,
will release “Te Doy La Libertad.” Sixteen boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 18 sing
and play their hearts out for a
vintage sound.
Closer to home, Pugh has
worked with two artists who are
keeping blues alive.

‘Muddy meets
Mumbai’
Aki Kumar grew up in Mumbai, formerly Bombay, listening
to his father’s eclectic music collection and his mother’s sweet
singing around the house.
He enjoyed rock ‘n’ roll and
popular Bollywood songs and
studied traditional Hindustani
music at a young age.
Despite mastering the harp,
Kumar didn’t really listen to
the blues until he emigrated to
the Bay Area to attend San Jose
State University at 18.
“There was harmonica involved (in Bollywood) but it
wasn’t dominant...to me that was
the role of harmonica,” he said.
After listening to recordings
of the greats, he began hanging
around in local blues clubs and
was soon working as a software
engineer by day and playing
venues at night.
“I started to realize how much
influence Western pop had on
Bollywood and when I got into
blues those things started to
pop out,” he said.
And from that realization, a
fun fusion emerged.
He didn’t set out to be “musically deep” but wanted to make
two important genres in his life
connect for his upcoming release “Aki Goes To Bollywood,”
where deep blues marries midcentury Bollywood.
“I was freaking out at first
because I didn’t want to force
things together,” the former
tech guy said.
The result is a blend of sitars
with blues jams, Hindi vocals
and Kumar on the harp.
As for the lyrics?
“It’s the same old songs—I
lost my woman, I lost my wal176

Photo of John
“Blues” Boyd
COURTESY OF
RACHEL KUMAR

let,” he said, jokingly adding
that it’s “always about women.”

From the rooftop
John “Blues” Boyd, who lives
in San Mateo but records with
musician Kid Anderson in San
Jose’s Cambrian neighborhood,
grew up singing in the cotton
fields of Mississippi in the town
of Greenwood.
People would tell him, even
as a young child, that he should
start a band. But he was busy
working, “trying to just afford a
pair of shoes.”
He and his late wife Dona Mae
Moore packed up for the Bay
Area in the 1980s, and Boyd became a hot tar roofer.
“I sung on the rooftop every
day,” he said. “I was always
someone special. I just didn’t
know it.”
His wife knew it, though, and
persisted that he start up a band.
He finally did so around the age
of 60. Then her health began to
take a turn for the worse.
“When I put the band together
I would rush home from sessions
to take care of her,” he said.
He naturally turned to blues
when his wife of 49 years died in
2014 and began writing songs.
He’s written about 100 of
them since.

PHOTOGRAPH BY JACQUELINE RAMSEYER

Blues harpist and singer Aki Kumar blends Bollywood and blues in his latest album, “Aki Goes
to Bollywood.” Kumar records in San Jose at Greaseland for the Little Village Foundation, a
nonprofit music label that gives smaller roots music a platform.

Now, at 71, he is releasing his
“Now that the older (blues ways sing those original old
first all-original album “The greats) are dead, they call me songs, but now, one day, someReal Deal.”
the real deal,” he said. “I’ll al- one will sing one of my songs.”
JUNE 10, 2016 SILICON VALLEY COMMUNITY NEWSPAPERS 13