Monday, March 11, 2013

Habib Koite and Eric Bibb: Brothers in Bamako

Brothers in Bamako (l to r: Habib Koite, Eric Bibb, Mama Kone)
 On Friday night Abdoulaye and I shared a quick meal after the sun set (since he's fasting) and then boarded an Arlington-bound bus to get to the Spectrum Theater to see Habib Koite & Eric Bibb's sold-out show.  Proof of purchase in hand, we picked up tickets from will-call and headed into the theater to join Cassie, Alys, Beatrice and friends standing in a jacket-and-bookbag-reserved row.

Friends from almost all my circles combined - work, Peace Corps, Mali and beyond - to listen to music that blends the rhythms of Mali and the American blues into achingly beautiful works of art (thank you so much Beatrice and Alys for sharing the link to the show!).  I spent most of the concert on the edge of my seat, legs tapping to the beat of the music and my upper body in a half sway.  Closing my eyes, I could see myself at the French Cultural Center in Bamako listening to Vieux Farka Touré or Rokia Traoré.  Eyes opened, I saw a room full of Washingtonians, either Mali and/or music enthusiasts, gently nodding their heads along to the beat.  

When Eric Bibb announced their last song my friend Louise and I frowned - already??  As we filed out of the concert hall, passing fans dressed in full complets or wearing embroidered tops with jeans, we sighed to one another about what a great show it had been.  Cassie's and my favorite song was Needing Time (I believe!) where Habib and Eric simultaneously played a song from their respective musical traditions and volleyed lyrics in their native languages (see the YouTube link below for a little taste!).  Made me want to watch Martin Scorsese's documentary, From Mali to Mississippi, again!

Maybe because it was the second-to-last night of their tour and they were tired that there wasn't much (or any?) mention of what's happening in Mali.  Maybe they assume anyone that would go to their show is keeping abreast of the news and doesn't need a reminder from them.  Maybe they wanted people to associate Mali with their music and not the newspaper headlines.
The picture that almost wasn't - thank you Abdoulaye for taking it and encouraging the shot!

You can get the Brothers in Bamako album here.  
See more pictures from our last days of winter here (these are the last days of winter, right?)

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