Boubacar Traoré (click photo for hish res) is one of the great veteran exponents of the African blues, a guitarist, singer and songwriter with a long, and sometimes pained history. At the time of Mali's independence, 50 years ago, he was a national celebrity, and the young sharp dressers of Bamako would dance to his songs such as Mali Twist and Kar Kar Madison: he was known as Kar Kar ("Dribble") because he was also a footballer. But by the late 1960s he had returned to his home region to work as a tailor and farmer, and later, after the death of his wife, he moved to France as a migrant labourer on building sites. Thankfully, he was persuaded to start recording again in 1990, since when he has revived his career in Mali. Mali Denhou (2011/Lusafrica/Proper ) is his first album in six years and shows he's still in impressive form, matching his thoughtful, soulful voice against an acoustic guitar style that mixes blues riffs with west African influences. His easy going, gently rhythmic playing is backed by n'goni, calabash and balafon, with outstanding contributions from the French harmonica player Vincent Bucher, whose inventive, sensitive or driving solos perfectly complement Traoré's laid back style. In his late 60s, he's still one of Mali's finest musicians.
“Sidi Touré is a worthy successor to Ali Farka Touré. Among Songhaï musicians, Sidi is the best. Sidi Toure has all the talent, quality , simplicity, playing and singing skills, it's incredible. We need people like Sidi." - Bassekou Kouyaté
Sidi Touré (click for high res) was born in 1959 in the ancient town of Gao, Mali. He made his first guitar as a child, constructing it from his wooden writing slate. Growing up, Sidi Touré faced a conflict between the inexorable pull of music and the expectations of family and society, plus the significance and onus of a past that came with being born into a noble family. The Touré family had been sung about, and sung to, by traditional griots for centuries, but until Sidi Touré challenged the rules as a small boy, the Touré’s did not sing. Despite his family’s disapproval, Sidi became the lead singer of his school’s band, and then became the youngest member of Gao’s regional orchestra, the Songhaï Stars, who played bi-annual festivals like the Bamako Biennale and toured both regionally and nationally. After winning the award for best singer twice, he took the band to the northern regions of Mali and to Niger, and toured much of the western Sahel region. Throughout his time making music, Sidi’s sound has both captured and challenged his roots. His music moves from the translucent swaying takamba to the trance inducing Holley, while the lyrics often address many non-traditional issues. Sidi has a critical mind and his songs have a purpose.
Sidi was featured on The Takeaway Show with Vincent Moon. Watch the film here!
Tickets for all shows at the Iron Horse in Northampton are on sale at Northampton Box Office, 76 Main Street, 413-586-8686 and online at IHEG.com.