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Tinariwen (1979-) - Grammy Award-Winning Tuareg Musicians From the Sahara Desert Region in Northern Mali


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Tinariwen, a band of Tuareg musicians originating from Sahara Desert region of Northern Mali.  Formed in the 1980s the band started gaining an international following in the early 2000s.  The music is primarily guitar-driven in the style known as assouf among the Tuareg people.  Others describe it as blues/rock influenced with traditional North Africa instruments.

They recently released a new album called Emmaar (Review in the New Yorker)

Office Video: Toumast Tincha

They will be playing a concert at 6th & I on March 22.

We played some Tinariwen while driving along a desert highway in Jordan. Mind blowing.

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A band of muslim nomads from NW Africa just turned a Jewish synagouge in NW DC into a standing room only dance party. Amazing show at 6th & I.

I always enjoy reading your posts because they always teach me things.

What was the genesis of your affinity towards African music?

"Tinariwen Rocks Washington D.C." by Heather Maxwell on blogs.voanews.com

"Concert Review: Tinariwen in Washington DC (03/14)" by Emily Gaynor on cultureglaze.com

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I always enjoy reading your posts because they always teach me things.

What was the genesis of your affinity towards African music?

I first really got "hooked" on a very boring flight back from India.

I started browsing the British Airways World Music Channel and stumbled across Femi Kuti, the son of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti.  BA had Femi's song "97" on the channel - which is about the death of his father and sister.  Shortly after that Femi played the 9:30 Club, which was an awesome show.

Afrobeat was developed primarily in Ghana and Nigeria during the 1970s.  Fela ran a legendary Lagos nightclub and used his music to speak out against the abuses of the military government.  Needless to say he was harassed and arrested numerous times and the government ultimately raided and torched his commune.

More recently, there has been an afrobeat revival in the U.S., Canada, and no doubt other countries.  Many of the bands feature either Peace Corp types who spent time in Africa or immigrants from Africa and Latin America.  These neo-Afrobeat bands quite often mix the music with jazz, Afro-cuban, latin beats, or other world music influences.  Much of the music is extended jams and the bands tend to be large, 8 to 12 members in a band is common, with lots of horns and percussion.          

Brooklyn/Queens and Ottawa seem to have strong scenes, and DC has a pretty good one too.  Chopteeth Afrofunk Big Band is probably the best known DC band as well as a couple bands associated with 18th Street Lounge/Thievery Corporation folks.  Chopteeth play fairly regularly around the area (The Hamilton, Iota, Bethesda Blues and Jazz Club, U Street Music Hall, as well as many of the local festivals.).

Tinariwen I discovered reading the New Yorker magazine, which has surprisingly good music coverage.

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