Grammy Award Winning Tinawiren appears August 14 at The Cedar Cultural Center on the West Bank. Tickets available HERE
Tauregs hailing from the northern Saharan desert region of Mali, the collective known as Tinawiren is about as far removed from the trappings of Grammy success as one can imagine. They are literally musicians in exile. The area the group traditionally called home has devolved into an area ripe with conflict. Competing warlords and fundamentalist groups preaching Sharia law have forced many, particularly musicians, artists and nomadic people to live in fear or flee. Specifically targeted by a Jihadist group, Tinawiren fled. But not before one of the group’s founders was captured and imprisoned as he returned one too many times in an attempt to save his guitars.
All of the emotions that are associated with the loss of home and family can be found on Tinawiren’s latest album Elwan (Elephant); anger, rebellion, hope and remembrance of happier, simpler times. If the best art is a reflection of the human condition as opposed to simple entertainment, the band personifies the indomitable spirit of this nomadic warrior culture. They transcend their challenges and provide everything one could want from an evening of music.
From their beginnings in a refugee camp to their latest iteration as a world-touring entity, they can provide exultation and encouragement like few other ensembles, on any continent.
Layered on top of my own desire to experience Tinawiren is the added bonuses of having previously experienced another Taureg musician in the person of the wildly engaging Bombino. This is a musical style built initially on simple instruments blended together in incredibly complex and rhythmic ways. If you’re a Bombino fan, you can’t go wrong here. If one has any questions about how visceral these Taureg stylings are, look no further than the planned lay out of the Cedar Cultural Center floor. The center section of chairs will be removed in appreciation of the fact that it is nearly impossible to sit still. Tinawiren plays. We move.
Opening is Astralblak, a well regarded electro-soul Twin Cities collective formerly known as Zuluzuluu, named by City Pages Readers as the Twin Cities Best New Band in 2017.