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Meet Hendrix of the desert
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 features fast tempos, sweet vocals and distortion that gives way to intertwined melodies, a frantic mash-up of musical cultures from a continent rich in rhythmn and dance.
“I was in love with the guitar from the first time I held it,” said Bombino, aka Omara Moctar, who visits the county next week.
“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.
Bombino often practised 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 guitarist Dan Auerbach, 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.
“I am making money to support my family back home. My children will have great opportunities in their lives that I did not have.
“I have always looked to my guitar as a companion through difficult and lonely times.”
Bombino’s recent appearance on Jools Holland’s show Later became a big step in Bombino’s movement towards rock stardom.
“I had never done a television programme like that before,” he said.
“I saw Pete Townsend from The Who and Florence Welch dancing to our music. That was cool.”
Bombino, Clitheroe Grand, Wednesday, October 30. Details from the box office on 01200 421599.
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