As many of you know, the situation in Mali has been horrendous. The country is racked by civil war and sharia law is in effect over much of the region. In a land known for having some of the best music in the world, music is actually outlawed and musicians are criminals.
One of the most amazing events held in Mali was the Festival in the Desert. Most of the regions best musicians would trek out to the Sahara for an extended festival of traditional and contemporary music. Western stars like Robert Plant and Bono have all made the trip to the Festival.
This year it is too dangerous to put on the Festival and most of the artists are living in exile. And while their won't be a gathering in the Sahara, many Malian artists are coming to the United States. The concert at the Lensic will be the US debut of Festival au Desert: The Caravan for Peace Concert tour, and it promises to be a breathtaking experience.
The evening starts with Mamadou Kelley. Mamadou Kelly is a tour de force West African singer and guitarist best known for his work with the world famous Ali Farka Toure, one of Africa's most legendary musicians. Mamadou's music lives at the intersection of traditional Malian music and the American Blues, a tradition that Martin Scorsese famously called "the DNA of the Blues." The dynamic combination of nomadic Saharan sounds, Malian Delta Blues, and electric guitars makes this a must-see performance
Next up is the trance-groove of Tartit. This ensemble performs in a very traditional Tuareg style. They are fronted by a collective of women singers who use acoustic instruments to create deep, powerful trance rhythms. The evening concludes as Tartit morphs into Imharhan, a contemporary updating of the sound featuring electric guitars and rock-influenced elements. Imharhan is very much in the vein of Tinariwen.
This is going to be one of the most compelling, powerful world music concerts of the year and a fantastic way to usher in the 10th Annual International Folk Art Market.