by Dan Bolles
Have you folks been outside yet? Ugggh! What an absolutely shit-tacular morning. It's the kind of morning I wish I was a bear so that I could just sleep for the next six months and miss this whole "winter" thing altogether. Is it snowing? Is it sleeting? Raining? Yes! No. Sort of. Whatever it is, it's cold. And wet. And windy. It's the unholy trinity of Burlington weather. Go to to hell, Tom Messner.
OK, now I feel better. There's nothing like directing your rage at an innocent bystander to soothe the demons inside. And no, I don't really want Tom Messner to go to hell. Just his Super Duper Doppler 9000 1.21 Gigawatt radar.
Anyway, a couple of posts ago, semi-frequent commenter, Thirtyseven, asked, "Can we just focus on how profoundly badass Tinariwen are?" At the time, the discussion had taken on a life of its own and it didn't really seem appropriate to change course midstream. But since he was the only person who commented on my last post, I figure, "what the hell?" So Thirtyseven, this Bud's for you.
As Thirtyseven — a handle which, oddly enough, is not a "Clerks" reference — pointed out, Tinariwen are, in fact, profoundly badass. Leading up to last week's e-mail interview, I honestly didn't know too much about them. World music has historically not been my bag, so my working knowledge of the genre was fairly limited. But digging into the band's back story is like reading a "Choose Your Own Adventure" novel. Except that it's real and infinitely more dramatic, laden with powerful imagery of exiled young "poet warriors" wandering the Sahara desert, rifles in one hand, guitars in the other. Their tale is not your typical band bio.
In short, the band was formed as a result of the bloody Touareg rebellion in the West African nation of Mali. Tinariwen's founding members were recruited into Colonel Ghadhaffy's military camps in Libya, lured by false promises of liberation. In response to Ghadaffy's lies and an entire region thrown into tumult, Tinariwen became the backbone of the underground Touareg resistance, funded by its leader, Iyad Ag Ghali, who provided the band with instruments an rehearsal space.
Their music, despite never being overtly political, became the soundtrack to a rebellion, serving as inspiration to thousands of disillusioned Touaregs. My favorite bit of imagery in their bio is of the "cassette tape to ghetto-blaster grapevine" through which their early recordings were distributed. Talk about file sharing.
If you're unfamiliar with Tinariwen, do yourself a favor and check out their full story.
In the meantime, here's a video sent to me this morning from a Left Coast gentleman named Matt Wright. Matt handled some of the more interesting indie bands in Portland, OR, many of whom (Horse Feathers, Alela Diane, et al.) have begun to frequent our frigid Northeast hamlet. Apparently, he's now living in San Fran and is involved with Tinariwen in some capacity. This vid is kind of a glorified commercial, but it does have some decent live footage. Enjoy!