Tinaraiwen: From the Desert of Mali to Northampton

Tinariwen a band of Tauregs from Mali
Tinariwen a band of Tauregs from Mali playing Northampton’s Iron Horse Thursday.

From the desert of Northern Mali, the band Tinariwen combines spiritual music from their native Tuareg people.

The Tuareg are famous nomads, living in harsh deserts and using everything in nature to survive.

I first heard Tinariwen on Jim Neil’s Jukebox, an eclectic music show on Wednesday nights from 7-10 on WRSI. He slipped this one in between his usual pop ditties, and I remember asking myself, WHO IS THAT?

The band was formed by Tuareg refugee Ibrahim Ag Alhabib in Tamanrasset, Algeria. I knew that there was another reason I wanted to see them–I have a fascination with Algeria that even ten years of travel has never sated. I want to see this country and hear their music!

The band started out playing at weddings and parties, and then they moved to Libya, where they spent nine months doing military training for the dictator Gaddafi. The songs focused on the plight of the Tuareg, who had been expelled as a race from their native Mali.

The band became more famous after they played at the Festival au Desert in Mali. After 22 years of making music, they finally had a CD to share with their fans.

This isn’t the kind of band you’ll get to see any old night in any town–so once again the lucky listeners of the Valley can enjoy exotic music from Mali, right here in Northampton.

The show starts with the English Afro-pop band The Melodic, at 7 pm. Tickets at iheg.com or Northampton Box Office.