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Desert Meets Delta Blues at the Pier Thursday

By Lookout Staff

July 14 -- Hailing from the nomadic tribes of the Southern Sahara, Tinariwen will wander through the Santa Monica Pier Thursday night bringing soulful sounds forged from years of exile to the third free Twilight Dance series concert of the summer.

Formed in 1982, the band, which remained underground until 1999, has captivated audiences worldwide with sung poetry that tells of the passing of an epic golden age and the struggles to map out a future for generations who must live with the modern world.

After hearing the music of Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and the Moroccan new wave, the band traded their shepherd flute and tindé drum for electric guitar, bass, and drums, forging a new style called ‘Tishoumaren’, or simply “guitar” that retained its links to the past.

“The ten members drew on a rebel rock sensibility, openly playing their passionate, trance-like Desert Blues,” according to World Music Central.

Their two acclaimed albums -- “The Radio Tisdas Sessions” and “Amassakoul” -- have won rave reviews, with lively music that evokes the epic, forlorn grandeur of the landscape roamed by their ancestors with their herds of cattle, camels and goats.

At a festival during the first eclipse (and first full moon) of the millennium, Tinariwen’s soulful music produced a magical effect on the desert crowd, causing "the young Touaregs to stamp and dance with abandon in front of the stage,” according to accounts of the event.

Opening the concert will be Markus James, who has been travelling in Mali and recording unique, Blues-influenced music with traditional Wassoulou and Sonrai musicians.

Markus performs with Malian artists playing a traditional 8-stringed hunter's harp of the Wassoulou people, kurubu and njarka violin of the Sonrai people and calabash and Bolon, the 3-stringed gourd bass. The music features vocals which alternate between Bambara, Sonrai, and English.

Blues Review magazine called the music "a vital mix of the Mississippi Delta and Mali, a cultural exchange of haunting beauty and mystery."

The free concerts -- which start at 7:30 p.m. -- are held for ten consecutive Thursday nights on the historic pier.

For information visit www.santamonicapier.org or www.twilightdance.org or (310) 458-8900.

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