8 September, 2012 – 12:48 am | Filed under music, personal | No Comments »
There were a few major takeaways from Omara “Bombino” Moctar‘s concert with his friends and band in Somerville tonight. (For those who aren’t familiar with him, he is a brilliant guitarist who hails from the Sahel region of Africa, specifically the country of Niger, and more specifically from the Tuareg nomadic group. He’s been called “the Hendrix of the Sahara” for his stylings. In order to escape the violence that afflicted the region, he and his guitar moved throughout northern Africa, and he spread messages of peace and solidarity through his music.
1. He remembered us from last time! He came over to greet our table!
2. Bombino is a big enough act that his music, journey, and story have impacted many lives. At the same time, he’s so down-to-earth and humble and really takes the time to greet and thank (and hug!) his fans. And really, that’s what has cemented his die-hard fans/”groupies”–those personal connections.
3. Got a signed CD! He’s such a sweet guy, shy and so cute, but still willing to even try to chat, despite the language barrier.
4. Music is…how to find the words to discover the brilliance of its universality? Even though we don’t understand the language in which he was singing, and even though the lyrics most likely deal with the experiences he experienced as part of the embattled Tuareg community of Niger, it doesn’t matter when he performs: the sound and spirit carry though and people just dance and smile and really feel the music thrumming through them and moving them. Whether or not we understand the words, we are impacted.
5. The warmth that lingers after each show (granted, I’ve only been to see two) hasn’t been lost on me. The fact that he and the band linger specifically to reach out to fans, and that so much joy is shared (in the form of many hugs and photos) is such a cool notion. The die-hard fans are also great, and willing to reach out and explain and spread that warmth and joy around. (Tonight we met a couple of “groupies,” including at least one woman who’s traveled extensively in Africa and became acquainted with Bombino there, and a guy of Libyan descent studying in Connecticut who drove up just for the show.)
6. Omara Moctar is only a year or so older than me, but I can’t even imagine the things he’s faced during his life as a refugee. Nor can I begin to imagine how it must have felt once he was finally welcomed back to Niger with all the honors, after many years of having to live a semi-nomadic lifestyle elsewhere, due to his people flat-out not being welcome.
7. The music is so damn catchy, but what really makes me smile is how caught up in the improv he gets. The way he moves and his face glazes over as you can see his mind working and his fingers flying furiously on the neck of the guitar…that’s what it is to be moved by music, and to channel it through you. And though he deals heavily with repetition, there’s just something about how he styles and shapes it with each subsequent “iteration” that feels so unique to him.
8. It hit me tonight that Bombino’s music is a direct translation of traditional African/Saharan sounds, translated to electric and bass guitars and a drum set, with some blues influence thrown in. AND IT COMPLETELY WORKS.
9. 2nd Bombino hug!
10. What fantastic solidarity that he invited friends, fans, and fellow musicians who were proficient guitarists to come jam with him on stage! That’s one of the secondary reasons why I’m a fan of the Toure-Raichel Collective–it’s all about connecting with others, regardless of their background.
11. The Boston World Music Meetup is one of my favorite things about living in this city. Hands-down.