Mdou Moctar’s Transcendental, Psychedelic Blues, And Portland Connection
Mdou Moctar‘s fiery guitar playing –an electrified, rarified, version of Tuareg traditional wedding music– made him popular in North Africa’s Sahel region. As a child in Northern Niger, he built his own guitar, and taught himself to play. After the release of his first album in 2008, his transcendental, psychedelic blues made him a must-hear musician among West Africans sharing mp3s via cell phone bluetooth technology. His music came to the attention of Sahel Sounds creator and curator Christopher Kirkley, who was researching the trend. Thanks to a partnership between Kirkley and Mississippi Records, some of Moctar’s first vinyl records came out of Portland, and the rest is history.
Mdou Moctar‘s heavy, groovy, new album Ilana (The Creator) is full of songs of love and protest. It was hailed by NPR’s Bob Boilen (another Pickathon veteran you may know from Tiny Desk) as “the most insane psychedelic guitar album of the 21st century”. We like that. Insane for a guy who built his own guitar out of bicycle parts, hid it from his parents as he taught himself to play. Insane for a guy whose music has won the approval of conservative religious clerics, and the adoration of several nations of the Sahara desert. Insane for a guy who loves Van Halen, ZZ Top. Insane for the guy who played the part of Prince in the Saharan version of Purple Rain (a biopic loosely based on his life).
We are insanely lucky to have the privilege of presenting Mdou Moctar, performing at Pickathon on Saturday August 3rd & Sunday August 4th.