African music has come a long way in the decade or so since my first foray into it, and we no longer need to make unthinking statements like, "The African Bob Marley". Unquestionably, the internet has been the harbinger of musical fortune when it comes to the unearthing of rare treasures from around the globe. I think it's fair to say our musical sensibilities, if we allow them to take hold, are able to grow exponentially in the climate fostered by the world of the internet. The good people who procure and share the wealth have become almost as important as the music itself, for without them we would never be able to hear and learn about stuff like Desert Blues. It ultimately allows us to extend beyond the typically narrow temporal, race and gender-specific fields of vision in which we tend to pigeonhole ourselves. For me at least, music has always been the central gateway from which I set out to discover unfamiliar histories and cultures. Undoubtedly, an understanding of the various musics of a people suggests at least some understanding of their traditions and history, etc.
Late 2004 I had my precipitating African music moment when I first heard Tinariwen's Amassakoul. I felt like I was in possession of something truly rare and significant. Cranking that album to deafening levels in my Circuit City bought Sennheisers brought me tears of euphoria. I simply could not believe this kind of music existed. In many ways it was the album that set me on the path of discovery. Like Steve Martin enthusiastically exclaimed when hearing a jazz number in The Jerk: "If this is out there, think how much more is out there!"
|Ali Farka Toure ca. early 1970s|
A great website for music of this sort and other African stuff is freedomblues. I've been visiting the site for years and owe a great thanks to nauma for his fantastic shares and information over there.
The mix here will not surprise anyone with deeper interest in Desert Blues. It's more of a primer, a selection of the songs that have been with me the last several years. If you have any appreciation for American Blues and an operative pulse, I guarantee you cannot possibly be disappointed with this selection.
Just a song before you go: