Malian rock band Songhoy Blues played at Mercury Lounge in New York on Tues., June 16, and they rocked the house.
Their story is a fascinating one. Many of the best-known musicians from Mali usually hail from Timbuktu, Bamako, and even the small town of Niafunke, where the late Ali Farka Toure was from. Songhoy Blues began in Gao when Oumar Toure and Aliou Toure (no relation to Ali Farka Toure) started playing music and eventually hooked up with guitarist Garba Toure. Despite not having any relation to Ali Farka Toure, they are connected to him, as Garba’s father was a percussionist in Farka Toure’s band.
The band gained wider recognition after they were showcased in the documentary They Will Have to Kill Us First: Malian Music in Exile, which highlights the music ban in Mali by Islamic fundamentalists. They fled to Bamako and have been touring extensively since then.
All photos by Atane Ofiaja.