BOMBINO w/ East End Mile

Sat. Aug 1, 2015 at 8:00pm EDT
All Ages
Price: $25.00
All Ages
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Event Stats
Price: $25.00
All Ages
Event Description

All Ages / Doors at 7:30pm / $22 in advance / $25 day-of-show

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Guitarist, singer and songwriter Omara “Bombino” Moctar is indeed a nomad, the word he has chosen as the title for his Nonesuch debut, produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys and recorded during 10 days of sessions at Easy Eye Sound in Nashville, Tennessee. A native of Agadez, Niger, he is a member of the Tuareg people, who have, for centuries, tended cattle and wandered the Saharan desert regions of West Africa. But rising star Bombino—buzzed about in music circles since the independent release of his 2011 album Agadez—has adopted the farther-reaching role of itinerant musician, intrepidly bringing a plugged-in version of his mesmerizing native sound to audiences around the world.

Auerbach first caught a glimpse of Bombino in a video clip filmed at a celebratory concert Bombino performed in Agadez after peace had been restored to his troubled country. The show was held before the facade of a mosque, with a thousand swaying fans in attendance; the staging was rudimentary at best. Auerbach says, “I thought it was really amazing. He was just rocking out, playing the guitar. He’s electrifying.”

The 33-year-old Bombino acquired his unusual nickname from his mentor, the esteemed Nigerien musician/activist Haja Bebe, who took a gifted teenage Moctar under his wing and called him “Bombino,” the Italian word for “little child,” after inviting the precocious Moctar to join his band.

Though Bombino is multi-lingual, English is not one of the languages he speaks. Through the sound of his work, at least initially, Bombino communicated with listeners outside his homeland. His simple but evocative lyrics are sung in the Tamasheq language of the Tuareg people of Niger and addressed explicitly to his fellow countrymen and women, exhorting them to move their nation forward while protecting their heritage. He recalls the time he spent in the desert and those he left behind during upheavals that repeatedly sent him and his family into exile. As Bombino says: “With the songs from Nomad, I want to explain what life is about to the Tuareg people. Recently, the Tuareg have been in the news, cast in a negative light, speaking of the war in Libya and the war in Mali. People might think that the Tuareg are a terrorist group. This is an opportunity to humanize the Tuareg...nomadic people, just following their goats around. They are concerned with their families, maintaining peace and having the ability to live freely in the desert. This is a chance to educate other people subtly through the lyrics of the paint a better picture of Tuareg life.”

Throughout Bombino’s early years, Tuareg life was indeed a struggle, as successive rebellions and the repressive policies of the government in power forced him and his family out of the country, to refuge in Algeria and Libya. While in exile, Bombino first picked up a guitar: “I was exposed to American blues and I listened to Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker—and, of course, Jimi Hendrix, whom I discovered when I lived in Algeria with my cousins. That’s when I knew I was going to be a guitar player.” For Tuareg activists in the last decade, the guitar was a tool of revolution and the sound of freedom, the primary instrument in their protest songs; for a period, playing the guitar even became a crime. Around 2007, politically minded musicians were forced to flee Niger. Bombino lived in Burkina Faso until the most recent conflict ended.

An American documentary filmmaker named Ron Wyman, who’d become a fan of Bombino’s earlier recordings while traveling and filming in Africa, sought Bombino out in Burkina Faso. After peace returned to Niger, Wyman helped Bombino to record Agadez, which brought the guitarist widespread acclaim and the opportunity to tour internationally. It was Wyman’s footage of Bombino’s homecoming concert that Auerbach had seen.

With the release of Nomad, Bombino will continue his journeys as a touring musician, but he will never feel too far from home. As Auerbach puts it, “When those guys get in front of you and Bombino is playing electric guitar, you don’t have to be in the desert. They will transform wherever they are. That’s what’s amazing about Bombino.”

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Venue Details
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Rex Theater 1602 E Carson St
Pittsburgh, PA 15203