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  • Carl Beust

Vieux Farka Touré at Blue Note in Honolulu

Vieux Farka Touré performed a series of concerts in the Hawaiian Islands capped off with four performances at The Blue Note. Hailing from the western Africa country of Mali, Vieux Farka Touré is on tour supporting his latest album Samba which was released in the Spring of 2017.

The title of the album does not refer to the Brazilian musical genre and dance style. In this case samba means “second boy” which is exactly what Touré is within his family. Vieux Farka Touré‘s father, the late Ali Farka Touré, entered the world music scene in 1976 with his self-titled album. Ali collaborated with musicians such as Ry Cooder, Taj Majal, and Corey Harris. In 2007 Vieux Farka Touré released his first album. His father was often compared to the blues legend John Lee Hooker, the son has been referred to the guitar slinger Jimi Hendix.

Touré arrived in Honolulu direct from Mali. You do the math. Flights from Africa to the East Coast, then to the West Coast and on to Hawaii. He was on a plane for the best part of twenty four hours. He often joked about what time it was in Mali and apologized for being so tired. Touré‘s playing never seemed to suffer.

The three piece band played for close to eighty minutes. Touré‘s hypnotic playing and improvisation dominated the set. Touré played acoustic and electric Godin guitars throughout the night showcasing his unique two finger picking style. Besides playing a traditional drum set, Mamadou Kone, started and ended the show on a large calabash. Bass player Marshall Henry, originally from Syracuse, New York grooved with the band throughout the set. Touré ‘s guitar playing is some of the best I’ve seen, it seemed to effortless.

Reggae, rock, and blues influences were mixed with traditional Malian melodies during the night. The set opened up with “Bonheur” a six minute instrumental in which fans are introduced to Touré’s reverb drenched style. “Samba Si Kairi” a Malian folk song is updated but still projects an anthem of strength and resilience. Other songs played included “Fafa” which speaks about the importance of brotherhood. Sprinkled within the set were “Ni Negaba”, “Ai Du”, and “Ba Kaitere”.

It is not often that musicians from Africa visit the Hawaiian Islands. It was a pleasure and honor that Blue Note Hawaii allowed fans to experience the music of Vieux Farka Touré. Hopefully one day Touré will return to the islands and treat us to the haunting melodies of his music.


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