Tinariwen @ The L2 Arts and Cultural Center
Tinariwen, Ibrahim, Abdallah, Hassan, ‘Japonais’ and Kheddou, began playing together the 1980s in town of Tamanrasset located in southern Algeria. In these early years, the group performed at various local venues such as weddings, baptisms and private events. Their musical endeavors would be put on hold, however, when in subsequent years, the four men were drafted into the same military training camp and sent together into battle.
Although indentured to military service, the group continued to play together and began distributed cassette tapes in an effort to broadcast their political messages. They advocated for the rights of nomadic people living under arbitrary, oppressive tyranny. After much grief and tireless efforts, peace was finally signed in 1994. Political amity was finally upon the people of Touareg; however, years of drought were finally taking their toll among the communities of desert people. As their livelihood dissipated with withered crops and emaciated animals, many Kel Tamashek people were forced into exile. It seemed these people would never be free of adversity.
Tinariwen sings about the distresses their people have endured. The group, losing some of its original members and gaining new ones along the way, now tours the world sharing their messages of hope, loss and strength. They have headlined at various preeminent festivals including the Eurockéennes de Belfort in France, Glastonbury in the UK, and Coachella in the US. In 2006, the group performed at theMontreux Jazz Festival alongside Carlos Santana. Highly praised in the media, their albums Aman Iman (2007) and Imidiwan (2009) attracted attention from artists such as Robert Plant, Elvis Costello, Thom Yorke and Brian Eno. Yet, in spite of all the success and international recognition, these musicians remain humbled and true to their original style. The bittersweet electric guitar and poetic lyrics celebrate the sacred union between a people and their environment within painful circumstances. The group’s music is a beautiful reflection of collective experience, endurance and hope.
New World Citizen (Greg Harris, Venus Cruz, Matt Fuller, John Grigsby, Mark Emmons, Ido Ziv) had the honor and pleasure of playing an opening set for Tinariwen. It was a memorable night of creativity and great music followed by good conversation and camaraderie.