Sunday, September 18, 2005

Mali Blues

I've never gone to any concerts presented as part of Chicago's World Music Festival. In fact, I'm not even sure if that's the name of the festival [It is - Ed.]. Regardless, last night I went to see Amadou & Mariam, the blind duo from Mali, currently Paris residents, whose latest Manu Chao-produced disc "Diamanche A Bamako" has become something of a European hit and a nascent crossover disc with the NPR crowd in the US.

Mariam sings and Amadou sings and plays guitar. He's an incredible player, made even better by his current band, basically a Gallic fusion group well schooled in Afro-pop but clearly capable of anything. Well after said grey-haired NPR crowd began trickling out, due to the late hour, hundreds were still left dancing at the Park West. The percussionist was a real crowd favorite. After a particular flurry of fills or barrage of call and response with the drummer, Mariam would let out this cool "yeeaaaaaaaah ....!"

The opener was a more traditional Mali star, more in the Ali Farke Toure mold, which is to say redolent of the same stuff that ultimately seeped into American blues. His name was Boubacar Traore, and he played acoustic accompanied by a gourd percussionist. His songs were very modal and hypnotic, and I found it fascinating the way he weaved melody and solo within what sounded a pretty static structure.

In other news, Z.'s young vocabulary continues to grow. Words - or approximate words - include: mama, dada, cat, dog, tree and a few more. She knows the sound of a few animals, too. Plus, she's ever close to walking and therefore Life As We Know It is ever close to ending. Good thing our neighbors, currently expecting boy number three, just offered to babysit some night before their own life gets more complicated. We're totally taking them up on it, since we can only imagine how wiped out we'll be when Z.'s ground speed jumps exponentially, as does her potential to run head first into sharp objects.


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