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SA Partridge

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Desert rocks

I suppose you can call this the second blog that explores my influences, although its unplanned.

Every morning when I enter the office my colleagues discuss the highlights of their previous evening, whether it’s Puza Thursday or the final of Survivor South Africa, there’s always a universal topic of conversation; a shared office habit.

Last night’s highlight was The Kick-Off Celebration Concert and tongues were wagging. I usually drown out this type of conversation, after all, I enjoyed the show. I’d popped my popcorn hours in advance.

But I couldn’t help but sigh when someone piped up, “Did you see those weird Arab singers towards the end? What was that about?”

I feel embarrassed including those words, even if they are not mine. Not everyone watching the show was waiting for the Black Eyed Peas and Shakira.

Tinariwen are African legends. They’re desert pop stars, music rebels.

The band was formed in the 1970′s by Toureg guitar poets Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, Hassan Ag Touhami and Inteyeden Ag Ableline. Their songs lament their time spent in exile, the destruction of the desert-dweller’s nomadic existence, their beliefs.

Listening to their music is evocative of North African nights, the mysticism of an ancient people, of the Sahara Desert. Their name is the plural of Ténéré which means ‘desert’, in Tamashek, the language of the Touareg.

Carlos Santana said, “To share this stage with Tinariwen is a real joy because
when I hear them I hear the beginning of the music of the Mississippi and of Muddy Waters, Jeff Beck, BB King, Little Walter, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy…this is where it all comes from, they are the originators.”

Taking away everything I’ve just said about them, just listen to the music, and experience it yourself.

Tinariwen live in London Tinariwen live in London

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