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Sidi Touré: Songhai blues man

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Sidi Touré soundchecking in Vancouver in 2012. (Flickr/Mark Henckel)
It’s often noted that Malian music and American blues share much in common; all one has to do is listen to the music of Tinariwen and the late Ali Farka Toure to make the connection with Americans such as John Lee Hooker and Mississippi Fred McDowell.

You should also add to the list the talented Malian artist Sidi Touré. Despite being a relative newcomer to American ears, Toure is a musician of note in Mali, but that might not have been the case if he’d listened to his parents.

Touré comes from royal lineage and his family had been sung about in his hometown of Gao-an ancient Malian city. But no one in the family had ever had a career as a singer/musician and so Sidi’s parents tried to dissuade him from music. Like rebellious teenagers all over the globe, Touré turned a deaf ear on his parents and soon after landed a spot as a vocalist with his high school band, eventually becoming the lead vocalist in a regional orchestra called the Songhai Stars. Since then he's one a few awards for his songwriting.

He released his first album in 1996 and he contiues to evolve.

His latest release is called Koima, which means “go hear” and it represents a shift from the previous Sahel Folk which was an intimate recording of duets with other musicians. Koima finds Sidi with a larger band. No matter the setting, what stands out his Toure’s nimble guitar playing: percussive with fluid single note lines. It’s music that certainly brings to mind Delta Blues.

If you’re familiar with and a fan of Tinariwen, you’ll enjoy Sidi Toure’s artistry. We talk with him on Eight Forty-Eight this Friday.

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