Grammy award-winning band from Southern Sahara, Tinariwen will perform Friday in Grass Valley during a concert presented by the Center for the Arts.
In 2012, Tinariwen received a “Best World Music Album” Grammy for its Tassili Desert Sessions at the 54th annual Grammy awards ceremony in Los Angeles. They have toured the world bringing their music meant to inspire peace.
“We wish to speak with all humanity how to build the world for tomorrow,” the band said.
Tinariwen means “empty places,” a reflection of their land of origin.
Taureg nomads have roamed the deserts of Mali and Libya for centuries and waged a war for autonomy for more than two decades. In the early 1980s, the Taureg men of Tinariwen picked up electric guitars, invited women to sing with them and started making music that spoke to their struggle.
On Tassili, the band drops bits of rap, funk, rock, and blues into soulful desert music that features a hypnotic vocal interplay between the male and female voices and guitar work reminiscent of Ali Farka Touré and Jimmy Page.
The band formed in the rebel camps of Colonel Gaddafi, as each of the musicians had been forced from their nomadic lifestyle into involuntary military service.
Surrounded by a displaced nation of their peers, Tinariwen forged a new style of music, trading their traditional lutes and shepherd’s flutes for electric guitars and drums. The style that resulted was dubbed “Tishoumaren,” or “the music of the unemployed.”
Their music addresses issues such as political awakening, problems of exile, repression of their people, and demands of sovereignty.
In a region with no postal or telephone system, their tapes soon became a grassroots voice of rebellion and a rallying point for the disenfranchised nation. Though outlawed in Algeria and Mali, the 2001 release, “The Radio Tisdas Sessions” and 2004 release, “Amassakoul” are available to Western audiences.
In 2006, they recorded their third album, “Aman Iman: Water Is Life,” released internationally in 2007 by Harmonia Mundi’s World Village imprint. The album was produced by Justin Adams, and featured the voice and guitar of founding member Mohammed Ag Itlale.
In the 1963 rebellion, Tinariwen group leader Ibrahim Ag Alhabib saw his father shot to death by the Malian military. The family fled to Algeria. In Algeria, Ibrahim saw a Western movie where the star played a guitar, and was fascinated with the instrument. Ibrahim worked to buy his own guitar and began to make his own music.
In 2010, after touring festivals around the world, Tinariwen signed to America’s Anti imprint and issued, “Tassili” in 2011 – the recording of a completely acoustic set in a protected region of the Southeastern Algerian Desert. Wilco guitarist Nels Cline and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band appeared on the recording.
“In general all the songs (on Tassili) came from a night of trance,” they said.
Ibrahim generates his gritty, grungy, churning sound by hammering open strings on his Fender axe in a laid-back desert boogie reminiscent of Ali Farka Touré.
In 2001, Tinariwen helped host the first Festival in the Desert, one of the largest world music festivals in the world.
The festival hosts a number of blues musicians from the United States and a variety of music from around the globe.
English afro-folk-pop ensemble, The Melodic, will open the show Friday. The Melodic is a quietly radical band that has drawn comparisons to indie darlings Beirut and The Decemberists.
This is the first young English group to lionize Chilean neo-folk rebel Victor Jara since Sandinista-era Clash.
Their new album “Effra Parade” was self-recorded in a soundproofed bedroom in South London over several years with a baroque line-up of 18 instruments.
“Effra Parade” is the follow up to the band’s acclaimed recording, “On My Way.”
Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are $30 for members of the Center, $35 for the general public and are available at the Center’s Box Office in person, by phone at 530-274-8384 ext. 14, online at www.thecenterforthearts.org or at BriarPatch Co-op.