Timbuktu to Amsterdam / by Cyrus

Finally picked up the new Imarhan Timbuktu album at Amsterdam's excellent Rush Hour Music. Tuareg party jams. Must listen.

About a year ago Chris Nolan of Clermont Music graciously allowed me to come chill at his barn in upstate New York with Imarhan, Tartit, and the great Mamadou Kelly, also of Mali. Chris was hustling the groups across the country on a national tour, piling three bands, amps, merch and huge homecooked lunches of rice and lamb into one of those classic white Dodge touring vans I've spent so many hours in. But I was always rolling with punk bands -- never with Malian guitar gods.

The highlight was driving down 125th in Harlem, "Le Grande Roue" as the grande ladies of Tartit called it. Suddenly, a minor insurrection broke. We were already late for soundcheck in Brooklyn, but the ladies couldn't resist the glittering goods of 125th. The van erupted in broken French. Chris desperately pleaded with everyone to stick together and stay in the van. No chance. At a stoplight on 125th, the ladies bolted. Big women in gloriously bright fabrics hit the ground with surprising footspeed. By the time we managed to pull over the Dodge beast they were scattered between various electronic stores, haggling over fake watches and phone cases for the family back home. Chris spent the next hour wrangling these proud and surly women. And they put on an amazing show.

If you haven't heard Tartit or Mamadou Kelly check them out on Clermont Music. Some of my favorite sounds. One day Raw Music will head to Mali, and I'll make sure to bring phone cases.