Only his voice can blend Niger and Mississippi river alluvia with such moving authenticity. His unique, inimitable, self-taught guitar technique owes a great deal to his kora influences, but its shades and phrasing also suggest the great black bluesmen of the deep American South: Blind Willie McTell, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and others.
Begin at the end, so they say, and the end for Lobi came suddenly and out of the blue. He died in June at 49. Like Habib Koite is, Lobi was a people’s musician. Friendly and down to earth, Lobi was well known to hustlers and music fans alike in clubs like the Djembe in Bamako. A short time before his death, he grabbed half an opportunity to record an album and here it is
Charlie GIllett scoops up yet again the tracks you loved but never got round to owning and those that would otherwise have entirely slipped past you unnoticed like so many logs floating down the Niger in the middle of the night
A few years ago a group of hoteliers got together in the pleasant but unremarkable stopover of Segou along the banks of the Niger river to work out how to get people to stay for a while in their town. Thus the Festival sur le Niger was born and this year it burst its banks
With a fresh take on his father’s trademark sound, Vieux is almost guaranteed to attract international audiences — even if only a handful of his compatriots have heard him play. We went to the Sahara to talk to him
Quite possibly the most difficult festival to get to on earth, certainly the most fun, The Festival in the Desert is held at Essakane every January. Head for Timbuktu and when you have reached the middle of nowhere, keep going for a few more hours of treacherous driving up and down sand dunes and you have the festival that makes Glastonbury seem about as adventurous as a trip to the local garden centre
On March 6, 2006, Ali Farka Toure died after a long illness, just weeks after the one of the albums he excitedly told our writer about won a Grammy, “This is the best album… .the best. I swear!” We republish this piece in his honour.
Welcome to Ali Farka time. Ali starts late and thanks the audience for their patience in French. At a beautifully languid pace he rolls his earthy sound into gear. His performance opens with a full band but his guitar, voice and the calabash dominate as on his recordings
From the first few, sharply beautiful notes of this exquisite pairing, it is already clear that this album will be one of the key records of the year. Ali Farka Touré’s guitar and Toumani Diabaté’s Kora emit a phenomenal series of notes that interlock with each other like two intricate cogs in some otherworldly machine.
The Malian balafonist Neba Solo is wowing audiences all over the world — not only with his masterful performances, but also with the sound he is creating. Lydia Martin saw him play at the Segou Festival sur le Niger in Mali in February 2005 and tracked him down…