There is no excuse not to get out and see some great music this month. Of note is a pair of performances at the California Institute of Integral Studies: Mali Fest Weekend featuring Fatoumata Diawara and Tinariwen at the Nourse Theater. It’s a chance to celebrate the music of Mali while bringing attention to the tension in that country.
Fatoumata is an exciting, young singer-songwriter who has fought the cultural prejudice faced by women throughout Africa. I saw her play Zellerbach last year and she puts on a great show. And Tinariwen is the Grammy-winning roots and rock rebels from the Sahara. You can attend either show individually or buy tickets for the weekend and save 20%.
Fatoumata Diawara, Friday, April 18 at 8:00PM Tinariwen, Saturday, April 19 at 8:00PM
OK, I think they need to come up with a better title, but the California-based team at Kanaga System Krush is putting together a musical documentary that looks amazing. Coming out sometime in 2014?
Music in Mali includes visual snippets from artists, including the Grammy nominated Bassekou Kouyate, Djeli Mady Tounkara, Grammy award winning Toumani Diabate, his brother Madou Sidiki Diabate, and many more. The film also features some the the last visual recordings of Legendary Malian musicians like Lobi Traoré, Zani Diabate, and Mangala Camara.
Among the iconic images to emerge from the “Arab Spring” was a YouTube video of a stylish young Tunisian woman singing a capella, surrounded by chanting demonstrators during the final weeks of President Ben Ali’s regime. The singer was Emel Mathlouthi and in the video she sings her signature song, “Kelmti Horra” (My Word is Free).
Local phenom Meklit Hadero has just released a live album called “The Nile Project,” and it is fantastic.
In January 2013, the Nile Project brought together 18 musicians from Uganda, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Egypt to experiment with a collaborative creative process that would last 10 days. Each musician brought 2 songs. In the morning, we taught one another our respective musical languages. In the afternoon, we played musical chairs in duos, trios, and quartets. On the 5th day, we played our songs for one another. The puzzle was all there. Four days later, we had our first live performance at the Aswan Cultural Palace, and it rocked! Everything was recorded. After a few months in the mixing and mastering process, the Nile Project live album is here!
I am always on the lookout for live Ethiopian music in the Bay Area, which seems a relative rarity, despite the large community of Ethiopians living here. I’ve been hooked on the stuff since listening to the Ethiopiques albums over the last few years.
Get out and hear some music this month. A couple local favorites have upcoming gigs.
Baba Babá Ken Okulolo and the Afro-Groove Connexion play Ashkenaz Music and Dance Community Center in Berkeley this Saturday, December 8 at 9 pm. Really, is there a better place in the Bay Area to shake your booty?