Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Taste of African Blues and the Blue Men of the Sahara

On the way home from work today I heard some new music which really wowed me. When I got home I had to find out more about the band and their music. It was so distinctive, lots of electric guitar (and please note I am not a major electric guitar fan), a little trance like, lyrics which were not english, and I couldn't place the language or the style of music. When the announcer said the band was Tinariwen and the tune was Tahult In, I had to find out more. I made a mental note to look up the song on the Radio 2 playlist (their songs are posted) when I got home.

Therein started a musical and educational journey for me and a new dream for my life list. I would like to share this musical find with you. It may not be quite your cup of tea, but I quite like the music and the story behind it is intriguing

Firstly, let me give you the Reader's Digest regarding the band and their music. It isn't really a band, per se, but rather an extended family of ethnic Tuareg people from Saharan Africa, within the country of Mali.
To quote Wiki:
They play in the Tishoumaren ("music of the unemployed") style, and sing mostly in the French and Tamashek languages. Their songs mostly cover the subject of independence for their people from the government of Mali. They are said to be the first Tuareg band to use electric guitar...

Tishoumaren as a musical style diverges from some traditional styles of Tamasheq music in that the group of performers is, first, much smaller (10 or so, as compared to about 30), and second, among other factors, the music is based around the sound of the electrical guitar. The style has grown in popularity, much in line with the growth of Tinariwen's popularity, as they are regarded as the first Tamasheq group to feature electrical guitars, and thus as the originator of the style.

Having said that, have a listen and see what you think.

I also found several You Tube videos with Tinariwen accompanied by various famous guitar men. I liked this one featuring Carlos Santana with Tinariwen performing "Amasskoul" at the Montreux Jazz Festival

As I looked through the You Tubes available on this band I discovered most of them were documentaries. There is quite a story behind this people, their music and their struggles. If you have a little bit of time I would highly recommend watching this 2 part video to gain an appreciation of what is behind this really soulful African Blues music.

Documentary on the Band and Their Music:

Part 1

Part 2

Whilst browsing through the You Tube Videos for Tinariwen (mostly documentaries as I said), I found a Video describing the Festival in the Desert. When I saw the You Tube about this international music festival, which is held in the middle of the Sahara Desert, I was blown away. Gosh it would be fabulous to go there! The Festival au Désert (Festival in the Desert) is an annual concert in Essakane, Mali, showcasing traditional Tuareg music as well as music from around the world.
So now I have another item on my "life list". I would love to travel to North Africa and attend one year.

If you like this music and want to see another amazing You Tube of the African Blues Music Try these two You Tubes
Festival in the Desert:
Part 1
Part 2

For the Tinariwen web site go here

Incidentally, I did decide to buy their album on iTunes. I feel not only like I have bought an album, but also like I have sent money to aid Africa.


  1. Thank you for pulling together this information about Tinariwen and the struggles of the Mali people. It was interesting. I hope that you make it to the Festival in the Desert sometime.

  2. Thanks for visiting! I hope I get to blog about my visit to the Festival in the Desert!


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