Tinariwen, comprised of Tuareg-Berber musicians who come from the Sahara Desert region of Northern Mali, are not your typical indie rock band. Though truth is, they are probably the ultimate indie rock band. With their roots in a war-ravaged part of the world, and the conditions and challenges they have had to overcome, they take the “DIY” concept to an extreme level. Their music alone, without the historical and biographical context, is an emotionally stirring blend of guitar rock, American blues and traditional South African folk music, with lyrics that speak of the struggles of their people and their fight for independence and freedom. However, their personal story is tightly woven into their music, which is what gives it such depth of spirit. Their heritage is what makes them who they are, and it is what guides their musical vision. You cannot separate one from the other. At a time when Mali is once again in the news, as al Qaeda fighters are taking over the country, killing innocent civilians, destroying sacred sites, and imposing Sharia Law, Tinariwen is on tour. Hopefully people will not only hear the wonderful music these gifted musicians create, but will also hear their message.
Tag: the Paradise Rock Club Boston MA
Better late than never… (but I come bearing video)
So who says a band can’t achieve huge success on its own terms? No “formula”. No concern about demographics (unless there’s a new genre called “Eastern-European-Gypsy-Mariachi-Southwestern-Desert-Polka-Pop”). DeVotchKa is deliciously uncompromising, with a wildly unique sound and globetrotting vision. What we have here is a phenomenally gifted group of musicians doing what comes naturally, with increasingly larger audiences (such as their Paris stadium show with Muse for 90,000 last year) delighting in the exotic experience.
Jimmy Gnecco, the lead singer for Ours (Distorted Lullabies, 2001; Precious, 2002; and Mercy, 2008), is set to release his solo debut, The Heart, due out July 20 on Bright Antenna. Holy shit, this guy can really sing. He’s currently touring with L.A. songwriter Greg Laswell (who has a new album just out called Take A Bow), and will be at the Paradise tonight (Thursday). Also on the bill is singer-songwriter Brian Wright (Brian Wright & The Waco Tragedies), who also plays piano, mandolin, harmonica. A nice soulful, folky Americana. Three very personal and intelligent songwriters in one evening – definitely worth checking out.
Some Mercury retrograde weirdness pushed the schedule back a bit, and bands were still sound checking as fans gathered in the Paradise front lounge. But it was well worth the wait when Sea Wolf took to the stage. And The Album Leaf were all-encompassing, quite amazing, and they even brought along a string quartet! Nice.
A warm, gentle breeze has been blowing in from the West, sweeping awesome L.A. artists into town like an unpredictable weather pattern blowing exotic birds in from off their usual migration path. Ok well, it’s kinda like that. It’s also the case that a growing number of the Silverlake/Echo Park area bands that I’ve regularly featured here have been (rightfully) achieving wider success and have been madly touring all over the f’ing place. Robert Francis is one of those artists; a thoughtful and personal singer-songwriter strongly steeped in folk tradition, but rocking out more since last year’s Before Nightfall. He’s been back and forth between Europe and the U.S. so much lately, it’s more likely you’ll see him in Boston – or Brussels for that matter – than in his native Los Angeles.
I almost decided not to go to this, as the band I was most interested in seeing (the openers) pulled out at the last minute. But then I had a listen to JBM (Jesse Marchant) and was instantly drawn in to his intimate songwriting style and warm, inviting voice. I also liked what I heard of Rogue Wave, though I was previously unfamiliar with them. I figured “what the hell, I’ll make the drive down”. Good call.
Well ok, the show is sold out, but I just love these guys and they’re totally crazy, so I have to give them a little nod. My first time seeing them was at this uber-cool Providence Block Party last summer, and they were really fantastic.