Morning Music: Tinariwen

Emmaar - TinariwenIn my regular work, I have two bosses. One is the owner, but I don’t deal with him directly all that often. So I think of my boss as Toni. She’s a really interesting person. Really. Interesting. She’s a mother of three, but wilder than I’ve ever been. She picks up homeless people and lets them sleep on the couch. She’s a juggler who busks on the street. Whereas I close the drapes and hide inside, she rushes to meet the world head on. In fact, she has recently had run-ins with black bears and a cougar. She terrifies me, but I enjoy living in a small way through her.

She’s very interested in what she refers to as “African blues.” It is mostly music of the Sahara — most especially Mali. You may remember that I featured some musicians from the region some time ago, Ali Farka Touré & Toumani Diabaté. But I don’t know much about it. And so I thought it would be interesting to do a week of my boss’ favorite music. She sent me a collection that is focused in Africa, but isn’t exclusively so.

We start with what I believe is her favorite band, Tinariwen. They are definitely influenced by Touré — but I doubt there are many musicians from the region who haven’t been. You can definitely hear why she calls them African blues. It’s incredibly compelling music. Sometimes, when people listen to foreign music, they don’t get much out of it. For example, when Ravi Shankar performed at the Concert for Bangladesh, the audience applauded after his group tuned up. He famously said, “If you like our tuning so much, I hope you will enjoy the playing even more.” But this music is distinctly western, so the listener can appreciate what is different about it.

Here is “Islegh Taghram Tifhamam” off their most recent album, Emmaar. It’s very laid back, but they can rock. I might come back to them later in the week with another tune. They deserve it.

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