Vieux Farka at 5 Points Music Sanctuary (Sounds From The Sahara)
Vieux Farka, Malian singer-songwriter, brings his African guitar styling’s to 5 Points Music Sanctuary in Roanoke. Known as the Hendrix of the Sahara, Vieux is truly original and has worked with many of the Jam world’s biggest guitar legends like, Eric Krasno, Jon Scofield and Derek Trucks. Although unknown to me before this show, I was instantly immersed in his guitar style, which is both unique and alluring. Mixing Blues and African scales, the sound is reminiscent of a vast desert; although desolate, travelers gravitate to it and make it their home. This spirit that can be felt from Vieux’s music; a nomadic sound that is truly vibrant and alive.
Vieux Farka Toure keeps the rhythms of the past within their sound; chaotic yet, simple at the same time. The overall sound and song selections keep the audience on its toes. The band, quickening their pace by the third song, went full force into Rock territory. This is the definition of Vieux’s style, very Hendrix-like but with a folk almost bluegrass tinge. There was no way of knowing the specific meaning behind the lyrics on the fly but they were emotionally evocative and I could feel what he was tying to tell us.
The second set was heavy and filled with improvisation. I was very impressed with the vocal qualities and amazing guitar solos. This band reminds me of an African Cream, psychedelic and heavy. Improvisation was used mostly during solos but they could totally add any number of jam segments into the mix and are very capable of doing anything onstage. Vieux’s guitar skills are reminiscent of fast Spanish flamenco guitar but with a different tone altogether. Taking riffs from Bob Marley’s "I Shot The Sheriff" and mixing them in “Homafu Wawa," my favorite performance of the evening, as well as, song off his recent album ‘Samba.'
It's easy to hear the history of this music, as it travels from Africa to the Caribbean and into America. Influencing every type of music: Blues, Country, Rockabilly and even Bluegrass. The roots of the Blues specifically can be heard within African music, and this blending of the two in a modern setting is just what the music scene needs. This music is influenced by western culture but begins in Africa. Having a Grammy award-winning artist as a father and performing for millions of people at the Olympics, Vieux Farka is not stranger to the spotlight; I hope he remains in it for quite some time. Let's hope that North America can catch on to this outstanding and unique style of music.
Ears Always Open,
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.