Bombino’s raw-edged, rock and blues take on traditional Tuareg music has won him a global audience, and through times of conflict and exile in the desert dunes of Niger his music was a constant companion.
The African’s guitar sound – boosted by a full band – feature fast tempos, sweet vocals and distortion that gives way to intertwined melodies, a mesmeric mash up of musical cultures from a continent rich in rhythm and dance.
“I was in love with the guitar from the first time I held it,” said Bombino, aka Omara Moctar, who makes his visit to the country this month, playing in Clitheroe for the first time on Wednesday October 30th.
“I would listen to music from the West and watch videos of Jimi Hendrix and Dire Straits and I was so envious of their freedom and joy. Watching Hendrix play was magical. It was like his guitar was part of his body, and the rest of the world melted away when he was playing.
“I wanted to feel that power, freedom and excitement from music. My music is traditional and modern, but most of all it is music of the Saharan Desert and the Tuareg people.”
Bombino’s music was his way of contributing to the Tuareg cause, says the 33-year-old, whose experience as a youth in exile in Algeria inspired him to become a singer and a musician. He often practiced as he tended his family’s livestock.
“It is important to provide support and inspiration to my people through my music, whether we are in times of war or peace,” he added. “I do not see my guitar as a gun but rather a hammer with which to help build the house of the Tuareg people.”
Since the release of his 2011 album, Agadez, and Ron Wyman’s accompanying feature-length documentary, Agadez: Music and Rebellion, Bombino has gained an international fan-base. He is now a star not just among the Tuareg, who live mainly in Niger’s northern deserts, but among the nation’s youth.
His new album, produced by Black Keys drummer Dan Auerback, has brought a gnarly garage crunch to Bombino’s rolling desert blues.
“Dan invited me over to Nashville to record with him, and that was amazing as I’d never recorded in a real studio before. It was a magical experience. Everyone was so cool with each other and the music came out easily. My life has changed in so many ways, from the life of a nomad in the Sahara to a global nomad, playing music.”
Bombino follows hot on the heels of Gogo Penguin, Roller Trio and, earlier this year, the Hot 8 Brass Band, as a programme of events coming to Clitheroe promoted in association with Root Music and Band on the Wall, Manchester.
Bombino performs at The Grand on October 30th, doors 7 pm stage 7-30pm, tickets £14 / £10 concessions.
l Half-term treats for all the family at The Grand
The Grand is hosting two special family features during the half-term holiday.
On Saturday October 26th, “How to Catch a Star”, an adapted stage play from a beautiful book written by Oliver Jeffers, will enchant families with young children (three and over).
Also, on Friday lunchtime, November 1st, at 1 pm, The Grand will the new Disney film, “Despicable Me 2” (£3 adults / £2 children).