Ballroom Marfa was honored to host the band Tinariwen at the Capri in Marfa, Texas — a rare and special visit from the African band to the West Texas desert. Swiss singer Sophie Hunger opened the concert.
Tinariwen is a band of Tuareg musicians from the Sahara Desert region of northern Mali, who came together in refugee camps in Libya in 1979 (read more of their incredible story on their website). Their songs, initially recorded on cassettes and passed around the desert, helped broadcast the message of a rebel movement promoting the rights of nomadic peoples suffering under repressive governments. The band’s music eventually broke through to a wider audience in the early 2000s with their hybrid of Berber, Arab, Western and black African musical styles, including the blues (a mix often referred to as “desert blues”).
With this success, Tinariwen have found themselves in a strange place: while singing about the distress of their people, they’ve become stars, playing international festivals like Coachella and Glastonbury, and rubbing shoulders with heavyweights like Thom Yorke, Robert Plant, and TV on the Radio. But this recognition hasn’t altered the spirit of their music, which mixes the spiky sound of guitars with lyrics that celebrate the union between a people and their environment, and reflects the yearning and spiritual pain of their history.
Swiss singer-songwriter Sophie Hunger opened for Tinariwen. Hunter’s haunting vocals — at once fragile and soulful — have carried her bluesy acoustic folk from intimate cafe appearances and European tours.
Support for this project provided by The Brown Foundation, Inc., Houston, TX and Ballroom Marfa members. Special thanks to The Big Bend Sentinel, Rob Crowley, Tim Johnson, Vance Knowles, Karen Longshore, Chrissie Saenz, Robert Lara, Marfa Public Radio, Marfa Recording Company, Ken Whitley, and the Thunderbird Hotel.