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.
Back in the summer, the legendary duo Amadou & Mariam, performed (also at the Paradise), and at that time, I gave a little background about Mali – and the Tuareg’ – history. A brief update: the latest news is that the situation is worsening, though now there is some hope that others will get involved to drive out al Qaeda. This is a massive story, encompassing many areas, so consider this just a small acknowledgment of what is going on all around us. If ever there was a time for Americans to stand up for what they believe in, that time is now.
In the meantime, there’s the music. Music gives us hope, and is that common bond that connects us.
A small story about that DIY ethic I mentioned earlier. For their latest album, Tassili (Anti Records), Tinariwen wanted to revisit their origins. Unfortunately, the violence in Mali made it impossible to record there, so instead, they settled for the deserts of Southern Algeria. In a tent with electrical generators and all their gear, battling blustery winds and blowing sand, they recorded their album. In three weeks. In the context of rock bands that take a year to record an album, in a fancy recording studio with every modern convenience, consider that, if you will. How important is a swank studio? Well, apart from creating a beautiful album full of heart and soul, they also happened to win this year’s Grammy Award for Best World Music Album.
You can read more about this unique band and their recording experience on their site. And if you can, join them on this special tour, at this poignant time.
10/12 Portland, ME – One Longfellow Square
10/13 Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club
10/14 Londonderry, NH – Tupelo Music Hall
10/15 Fall River, MA – Narrows Center for the Arts
10/16 Philadelphia, PA – World Cafe Live
10/17 Annapolis, MD – Rams Head On Stage
10/20 Carrboro, NC – The ArtsCenter
10/21 West Long Branch, NJ – Monmouth University – Pollak Theatre
10/23 State College, PA – State Theatre
10/24 Columbus, OH – Ohio State University, Wexner Center
10/25 Nelsonville, OH – Stuart’s Opera House
10/26 Grand Rapids, MI – Calvin College, Covenant Fine Arts Center
10/27 Minneapolis, MN – Dakota Jazz Club
After the U.S., Tinariwen will embark on a European tour. See their site for details.