Vieux Farka Touré: Album/Tour

Vieux Farka Touré Fondo Out and U.S. Tour

Vieux Farka Touré
Having a famous dad can be more of a curse than a blessing. For every Barry Bonds or Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, both of whom overtook their fathers in the family business, there are thousands of sons who follow their dads with little success. (Franz Xaver Mozart, anyone?) But Vieux Farka Touré, the son of the great Malian guitarist Ali Farka Touré, has already stepped out from his late father's shadow. Ali Farka Touré proved – in case anyone ever doubted it – that the soul of the blues could be found in West Africa. His son Vieux is turning heads with a more radical idea: that those western Saharan roots can be heard in everything from the jam band scene to Jamaican dub.

Fondo, Vieux's newest effort and his Six Degrees debut, is more than a stirring mix of traditional instruments and modern production. More than a world music artist embracing the sounds of rock, it is the sound of a young man coming into his own. His self-titled debut, released in 2006, seemed to be the passing of a torch, as it included the last recordings by his legendary father, and a healthy dose of traditional Malian songs from his father's repertoire. But his new album has only one traditional song; everything else was written by Vieux himself. The album's opening salvo, "Fafa," has a bluesy rhythm and intricate guitar solos that may recall Eric Clapton's glory days with Cream.

If you want to get a quick view of the musical terrain that Vieux Farka Touré has staked for himself, all you have to do is check out the remarkable sequence towards the end of Fondo. "Diaraby Magni" brings the African Diaspora from both sides of the Atlantic together, with a reggae rhythm, syncopated guitar, heavily reverbed percussion and vocals, and Yossi Fine's spacey, dub production. "Cherie Le" is an up-tempo affair (Mali's rhythms usually take their time – not here, though) with a more urban, Western sound. If the lyrics were in English, this could almost pass for an Allman Brothers song. And on "Paradise," Toumani Diabate – the world's greatest living player of the kora, Mali's ancient troubadour harp – joins Vieux on a guitar/kora duet that recalls the haunting album that Diabate did with Vieux's father just a year before Ali Farka Touré's death.

Vieux Farka Touré's career in music would never have happened, if his illustrious parent had his way. Ali felt that the music business was a harsh place to work. But young Vieux found a mentor in Toumani Diabate, and his own guitar skills eventually convinced the elder Farka Touré that a second generation of family musicians was inevitable. This is music from a contemporary Africa – urban, sophisticated, globally connected but deeply proud of its ancient heritage. This is the old/new Africa that Vieux represents. Fondo is the music of an Africa that rocks, and yet still hears the camel's tread in the sand.

Fondo track listing:
1. Fafa 5:03
2. Aï Haïra 4:31
3. Souba Souba 4:09
4. Sarama 5:21
5. Walé 4:21
6. Slow Jam 4:09
7. Mali 4:35
8. Diaraby Magni 4:39
9. Chérie Lé 4:03
10. Paradise 4:55
11. Fafa (Reprise) 2:51

Vieux Farke Toure Summer Tour:
05/23/09 Sat Jazz Cafe London, GB
06/03/09 Wed The Hideout Chicago, IL
06/04/09 Thu The Hideout Chicago, IL
06/05/09 Fri The Hideout Chicago, IL
06/06/09 Sat The Hideout Chicago, IL
06/12/09 Fri Bonnaroo Music Festival Manchester, TN
06/14/09 Sun Marquette Waterfront Festival Madison, WI
06/18/09 Thu Somerville Theatre Somerville, MA
06/22/09 Mon Rock & Roll Hotel Washington, DC
06/25/09 Thu Cedar Cultural Center Minneapolis, MN
06/26/09 Fri The Pyramid Cabaret Winnipeg, MB
06/27/09 Sat Quixote's True Blue Denver, CO
06/28/09 Sun Utah Arts Festival Salt Lake City, UT
07/01/09 Wed Nightlight Bellingham, WA
07/02/09 Thu Performance Works Vancouver, BC
07/05/09 Sun High Sierra Music Festival Quincy, CA
07/07/09 Tue The Troubadour West Hollywood, CA
07/09/09 Thu Club Soda Montreal, QC
07/10/09 Fri Phoenix Concert Theatre Toronto, ON
07/15/09 Wed Oregon Zoo Portland, OR
07/18/09 Sat The Independent San Francisco, CA
07/19/09 Sun Max Fisher Music Center Detroit, MI

[Published on: 5/12/09]

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