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Master bluesmen of the Malian Sahara.
Tinariwen’s own story burgeons with myth and mythos in their home country and beyond. Their tale is the stuff of legends. Founding member Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, grew up in desolation in Mali, where he witnessed his own father’s death at the age of four.
Later, after seeing a western film, he built his first guitar from a bicycle wire, a stick and a tin can. The band was founded in the 1980’s in Tuareg camps in libya, where the nomadic peoples had relocated to find work and a new life away from their homeland of the sahara. Disillusioned by the promises of Quaddafi at the time, the Tuareg became restless again and longed for home.
But the interaction with city life yielded unexpected consequences, they became exposed to western music — most notably the guitar-driven anthems of Jimi Hendrix and the American blues — which they mixed with their own soulful dirges which they’d perform in the camps by the fire with battery-operated amps. When revolution broke out back in Mali, they left Libya behind, hung up their guitars and picked up guns to fight for the Tuareg independence.
When the discord died down, the band returned to music, delivering songs imbued with aching beauty and lonesome poetry. Their music was bootlegged and traded around the region, earning them a devout following. Then in the late 1990s, they were discovered by western musicians and for the first time, their songs left the Sahara and were introduced to the world. For the next ten years, the nomads now travelled the world, performing at nearly every notable festival and venue around the globe, providing the world with a taste of the aching beauty and lonesome pleasures of Saharan Assouf.