Songlines | Desert blues

Desert blues Profile

  • Related Countries: Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Mali
  • Related Artists: Ali Farka Touré, Tinariwen, Amadou & Mariam, Terakaft

The connection between the blues of the Mississippi Delta and the West African desert was brilliantly explored in the Grammy-winning collaboration between Ali Farka Touré and Ry Cooder on 1994’s Talking Timbuktu. That record sparked a spate of blues-oriented collaborations between American and Malian musicians, but in recent years the term ‘desert blues’ has been most closely associated with the Touareg guitar bands emerging from the Sahara in northern Mali, Niger and Algeria. Spearheaded by the mighty Tinariwen, the blending of loping desert rhythms traditionally played on such instruments as the tinde (drum) and imzad (one-stringed fiddle) with stinging electric guitars has proved irresistible to world music and indie rock audiences alike.

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