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Emotive West African rhythms
18 Jan 2013

THE Alliance Française de Durban and the French Institute of Southern Africa present one of the world’s rare musical talents and guitar virtuosos Malian-born Vieux Farka Toure at the Rainbow Restaurant, in 23 Stansfield Lane, Pinetown, on January 20 at 3 pm.

The eKhaya Multi-Arts Centre in KwaMashu will also present a free workshop and press conference by Vieux on January 21 from 11 am.

Often referred to as “The Hendrix of the Sahara”, Vieux Farka Toure was born in Niafunké, Mali, in 1981. He is the son of the late legendary Malian guitar player Ali Farka Toure, who came from a historical tribe of soldiers, and defied his parents in becoming a musician.

When Vieux was in his teens, he declared he also wanted to be a musician. His father disapproved due to the pressures he had experienced. He wanted Vieux to become a soldier. But with help from family friend, the kora maestro Toumani Diabaté, Vieux convinced his father to give him his blessing just before Ali died.

Vieux was initially a drummer-calabash player at Mali’s Institut National des Arts, but secretly began playing guitar in 2001.

Ali Farka Touré was weakened by cancer at the time that Vieux announced he was going to record an album. Ali recorded a couple of tracks with him, and these recordings, which can be heard on Vieux’s debut CD, were among his final ones.

It has been said that the senior Touré played rough mixes of these songs when people visited him in his final days, at peace with, and proud of, his son’s talent.

Vieux’s self-titled debut album was released by World Village in 2007. On it, he pays homage to his father and follows Ali’s musical tradition, giving new versions of the West African music that is echoed in the American blues.

On his second album, Fondo on Six Degrees (2009), Vieux branched out and presented his own sound. While remaining true to the roots of his father’s music he also used elements of rock, Latin music, and other African influences.

In June 2010, Vieux performed at the opening concert for the Fifa World Cup in South Africa and also released his first live album, LIVE. And in 2011, came his third studio album, The Secret, which features South African-born vocalist Dave Matthews, Derek Trucks on electric slide guitar and jazz guitarist John Scofield.

In April 2012, Vieux released The Tel Aviv Session (Cumbancha), a collaborative project with Israeli star Idan Raichel, dubbed The Toure-Raichel Collective. It has been hailed by fans and critics alike as a masterpiece, and one of the best collaborative albums in the history of international music, drawing comparisons to Ali Farka Toure and Ry Cooder’s legendary Talking Timbuktu album.

“We are really pleased to be hosting one of the world’s top guitarists at the Rainbow Restaurant here in Durban,” says Sarah Doignon, director of The Alliance Française de Durban. “Vieux is an exciting young voice of Africa, who is described as rare and innovative, while humbly paying homage to the past. We believe the concert will be a great opportunity for music lovers to indulge in the emotive rhythms of West African inspirations.”

The Rainbow concert starts at 3 pm on January 20. Doors will conditionally open at 1 pm, dependent on the completion of a sound check by the band. Besides Toure on guitar, the group also features Mamadou Sidibe on bass guitar, and Tim Keiper on drums and calabash.

Tickets cost R50 at the door and can be pre-booked by phone on 083 706 2294 or 083 463 8044, or by e-mail at bandwag on@artslink.co.za

Vieux will also be conducting a workshop at eKhaya Multi-Arts Centre in KwaMashu on January 21 at 11 am. The workshop will be approximately two hours in duration and is free.

Besides demonstrating his guitar skills and talking about his musical influences, he will also address the very current issue of musical censorship in his native Mali where, in the north of the country, Tuareg and Islamist insurgents have taken control.

The Islamist faction of Ansar Dine has imposed strict Sharia law, including bans on music — even the music of Malians like Toure senior and junior.

Anyone wanting to attend the workshop should book with Kwazi Ngubane at 031 811 5628 (office hours) or e-mail kwazi@versfeld.co.za

— Arts Editor.

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