Marfa Dialogues

Mdou Moctar

September 18, 2019

Ballroom Marfa Presents Mdou Moctar Doors at 7:30 pm; show at 8pm | September, 18, 2019 Marfa Visitor Center at 302 S Highland Ave, Marfa, TX Free

Please join us as we welcome Mdou Moctar to the Ballroom Marfa courtyard for a free performance on Wednesday, September 18, 2019, at 7:30pm, in support of his latest album Ilana: The Creator.

Mdou Moctar is a guitarist from northern Niger and one of the first musicians to perform a modern electronic adaptation of Tuareg music. Commonly referred to as the Jimi Hendrix of the desert, Mdou shreds with a relentless and frenetic energy that sets him apart from his contemporaries. Tuareg guitar is some of the most popular folk music in the Sahara. The sound originated from the political ballads made by exiles in Libya, today it’s expanded to encompass everything from love songs to psych rock.

Mdou Moctar grew up in a remote, religious village in central Niger where secular music was all but prohibited. He taught himself to play on a guitar he constructed himself from wood, cables, and bicycle brakes. That inventiveness has carried over into his musical career and decades later, Moctar has built one of the most exciting discographies in Tuareg rock.

In 2008, Mdou travelled to Nigeria to record his debut album of spacey autotune, drum machine, and synthesizer. The album became a viral hit in West Africa and was later released on the compilation Music from Saharan Cell Phones. In 2013 he released Afelan which is a compilation of field recordings of performances recorded in his village. He then turned to film and produced/starred in the first Tuareg language film, a remake of Prince’s Purple Rain, Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red in it. He created a solo folk album in 2017, Sousoume Tamachek–a mellow blissed out recording evoking the calm desert soundscape. He played every instrument on this record himself.

His latest album, Ilana (The Creator), released March 29th on Sahel Sounds, is his most ambitious to date – pushing Tuareg guitar into an ever louder and blistering direction. The album was recorded in Detroit and is Mdou’s first true studio album with a live band. Mdou was accompanied by all-star musicians: Ahmoudou Madassane’s lighting fast rhythm guitar, Aboubacar Mazawadje’s machine gun drums, and Michael Coltun’s structured low-end bass. The album reaches back into Tuareg folklore for inspiration, riffs on the hypnotic loops of takamba griots, borrows vocal patterns from polyphonic nomad songs and combines it all with Mdou’s signature guitar.