Here's an artist you should know if you don't already: Mdou Moctar. He is an outstanding self-taught guitarist who plays music that transcends borders and labels. His website describes his eclectic musical style:
Tuareg guitarist and songwriter Mdou Moctar boldly reforges contemporary Saharan music and "rock music" by melding Eddie Van Halen pyrotechnics, full-blast noise and guitar shredding, field recordings, drums rhythms, poetic meditations on love, religion, women's rights, inequality and Western Africa's exploitation at the hands of colonial powers to rip a new hole in the sky with the Afrique Victime album.
And his background:
Mdou Moctar's home is Agadez, a desert village in rural Niger. Inspired by YouTube videos of Eddie Van Halen's six string techniques and traditional Tuareg melodies, he mastered the guitar which he himself built and created his own burning style. A born charismatic, Mdou went on to tell his story as an aspiring artist by writing, producing & starring in the first Tuareg language film: a remake of Purple Rain called Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai, which translates to "Rain The Color Of Blue With A Little Red In It", winning the approval of his family and his community. The word and the sound travelled across West Africa via mobile phone data cards, a popular form of local music distribution. Gruelling DIY world tours and albums on the independent US label Sahel Sounds followed, including 2019's landmark Ilana: The Creator album that earned Mdou Moctar an ecstatic international audience.
Please go listen to his music, you won't be disappointed. Here's an amazing set he did for KEXP and a live recording from a show he played in Niamey, Niger. The folks filming the Niamey show describe the scene:
In winter 2020, the Mdou Moctar band met up in Niamey, the capital of Niger, to record a few songs in anticipation of the release of, Afrique Victime (May 21st on Matador Records). We were staying on the outskirts of town at a friend's home. One day, we quietly set up in front of the house to film a few songs. Despite our relative isolation, the noise of the band inevitably attracted a crowd. What started as the four of us simply playing a few songs for a camera turned into a three-night run of rowdy concerts, bringing in hundreds of eager listeners. Each night, kids from all over the city would line up at our door, rushing over after their final evening prayer. These performances were completely spontaneous and wholly unplanned. Thanks to our audience, we were able to capture the spectacular energy of a typical Niamey concert for you. We're thrilled about it and hope you will be, too. Enjoy!
His music is so infectious and captivating, it's not long before everyone in the audience gets up to dance. I am beyond thrilled to be able to see him next month in Tucson at HOCO fest!