Tinariwen Threatened Ahead of North Carolina Concert Date
Just another day in Trumpmerica.
A guitar band from Mali called Tinariwen is famous worldwide. The group’s fans and collaborators have included Robert Plant, Thom Yorke of Radiohead, Bono of U2 and Nels Cline of Wilco. The band has fought extremism in their home country of Mali, and been victims themselves. But ahead of a September show in Winston-Salem, N.C., social media commenters are leveling violent, racist attacks against the musicians.
A refresher on Tinariwen: This a group of Tuareg musicians from the north of Mali. The members have been hailed as guitar gods, playing rolling melodic lines and loping rhythms that evoke the desert sands of the Sahara — the band’s native home. The band’s name literally means “deserts” in their language, Tamasheq.
The first time I saw them play was in Mali, back when it was a safer country than it is today — it was a life-transforming experience. In January 2003, I was lucky enough to travel to see them play at the Festival in the Desert, at a Saharan oasis called Essakane — that’s about 40 miles outside of Timbuktu, to give you a sense of its remoteness. To get there, we drove, off-road, in ramshackle Toyota Land Cruisers over constantly shifting sands.