Following an armed uprising in 2007, the government of Niger—for the second time—banned the nomadic Tuareg people from playing the guitar, viewing it as a literal instrument of rebellion. Tuareg superstar Omara “Bombino” Moctar sees his guitar as a symbol of independence and self- determination in the land his people have inhabited for thousands of years: “not as a gun, but as a hammer with which to help build the house of the Tuareg people.”
Born and raised into the rights-agitating, Berber-descended North African nomadic tribe, Bombino taught himself guitar as a teenaged exile, while working as an animal herder in the Libyan desert. He learned first from ishoumar musicians who sang of the rights and heritage of the Tuareg, then from videos of Jimi Hendrix and Mark Knopfler. As a working musician and a rising star, he became the subject of a feature-length 2010 documentary, Agadez: The Music and the Rebellion.
His second internationally released album, Nomad, was produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. If you're familiar with the “desert blues,” you know its building blocks: lively extended jams over irresistible syncopated grooves, soaring modal virtuosity, and impassioned vocals. As a key voice of the next Tuareg generation, Bombino takes it to a new level, with songs about peace that fuse traditional Berber rhythms with rock and roll energy. His message of education, strength and peace is delivered with a charismatic soul that looks a lot like freedom. LS/FF

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