Sidi Toure Bring Songs of Mali to Sanctuary for Independent Media

Date published: 10/06/2011
Publication: Albany Times Union

By Tom Keyser

On his first tour (and first visit) to the United States, Sidi Toure, a musician from Mali, will perform tonight in Troy at The Sanctuary for Independent Media. That his only local appearance is at the Sanctuary comes as no surprise.

“Our goal is to bring people here who wouldn’t normally have a place to play in the Capital Region,” says Steve Pierce, executive director of the facility. “We’ve tried to develop a venue where you can hear people perform that you wouldn’t be able to hear anywhere else.”

Toure opens the Sanctuary’s fall season of movies, concerts, speakers and multimedia events. (Susan N. Herman, president of the American Civil Liberties Union, will speak next Thursday on the topic “Taking Liberties: The War on Terror and the Erosion of Democracy.”)

Toure (guitar and vocals) is from Mali and will perform with Jambala Maiga (kutigui, or one-chord guitar) and Doumu Maiga (kurbu, or three-string guitar). They played on his “Sahel Folk” album that came out last year on the Chicago-based Thrill Jockey Records.

Described as friends reuniting around a glass of tea, itfeatures duets of Toure and one friend recorded at Toure’s sister’s house. According to the record company, the two musicians chose and played a song the first day and then recorded it the second day, allowing themselves just two takes to preserve spontaneity.

The music is high-energy acoustic, something of a mix of folk and blues. In response to a question via email, Toure describes it as “desert blues.”

He’s in the midst of a three-week tour from North Carolina to Quebec. He doesn’t speak English, but his interpreter writes: “He is grateful to be here and share his music.”

Born in 1959 into a noble family, Toure wasn’t supposed to play music. He and his family were supposed to have music played for them. But he defied tradition (as well as his older brother, who broke his homemade guitars in protest) and joined his school’s band and later became a famous musician in his country.

“In a world where there’s so much distrust and violence between people, music is an amazing ambassador,” Pierce says. “The musicians come out of cultures that we know so little about. Yet we can relate to one another because the music is so transformative.”

Reach Keyser at 454-5448 or tkeyser@timesunion.com.

At a glance

Sidi TourE and friends

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: The Sanctuary for Independent Media, 3361 Sixth Ave., Troy

Tickets: $10

Info: 272-2390; http://www.mediasanctuary.org

External permalink: http://www.timesunion.com/entertainment/article/Sidi-Toure-brings-songs-of-Mali-to-Sanctuary-for-2203993.php#photo-1647553

Posted in