Group Doueh (Boston Debut!), Khaira Arby and Her Band with special guest The Debo Horns
July 5, 2011
Presented by Bowery Boston and End of an Empire in association with Feeding Tube Records, Weirdo Records and Uhuru Afrika.
If you think you’ve heard all the great electric guitar styles in the world, think again. This Saharan sand-blizzard of fine-crushed glass will grind your face to a bloody pulp. Group Doueh play raw and unfiltered Saharawi music from the former colonial Spanish outpost of the Western Sahara. Doueh (pronounced “Doo-way”) is their leader and a master of the electric guitar. He’s been performing since he was a child playing in many groups before finally creating his own in the 1980’s. Doueh says he’s Influenced by western pop and rock music especially Jimi Hendrix and James Brown. His sound is distorted, loud and unhinged with an impressive display of virtuosity and style only known in this part of the world. His wife Halima and friend Bashiri are the two vocalists in the group. Saharawi songs are from the sung poetry of the Hassania language. The music is based on the same modal structure as Mauritanian music, however, Doueh’s style is a looser appropriation infused with a western guitar scope, one that relies, in his words, as much on Hendrix as it does traditional Sahrawi music. It also adds a playful pop element that rarely filters through in this region.
Malians love her. Khaïra Arby was born in the village of Abaradjou in the Sahara Desert north of Timbuktu. Khaira's parents came from different ethnic backgrounds, mother Songhai and father Berber. You can hear these cultures in her music; she sings in several languages. The instrumentation and rhythms are just as varied with electric guitar and bass, calabash, ngoni, traditional violin, and percussion creating a complex mixture of sound and structure. Some people compare the effect to the rhythms of the camel caravans crossing the Sahara, others to the cosmopolitan city of Timbuktu. To no one's surprise, Khaïra won her first singing contest while just a schoolgirl and was chosen to represent Mali internationally. Not being from a musical family, her father discouraged her continuing her career and she married. But after 10 years of marriage Khaira divorced and returned to Timbuktu and her musical interests. By her mid twenties, Khaïra had made her first recording with the Orchestre Regional de Tombouctou and after a short time was invited to sing with the famous Orchestre Badema in Bamako, the nation's capitol. She continued to earn her stripes beside such Malian stars as her cousin, Ali Farka Touré and the widely influential Fissa Maïga. Since 1990 Khaïra has focused all her energies on her music. With three albums in her own name and a fourth recently released in August 2010 she is the Voice of Mali's North. Khaïra sings in many desert traditions and her music takes the listener on an audio journey across the essence of Mali and Tombouctou, a meeting of compass points, religions, cultures, past and present. She sings praise songs, blues songs, religious songs, songs about love, war and peace, family and the lives of women. She expresses her pride in the history and struggles of her desert homeland and its people. Khaïra still lives in Timbuktu with her family. She performs at concerts and festivals throughout Mali. She has appeared at the mythic Festival in the Desert annually since its beginning in 2001 and at several editions of the Festival on the Niger River in Segou. In 2006 she was named a Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Mali. In August 2010, Khaïra and her band toured the United States and Canada performing to rave reviews at venues ranging from small Harlem nightclubs to the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. This tour coincided with the international release of her latest album, Timbuktu Tarab, which has been critically hailed as one of the best new albums of 2010.