Wonderful Evening of Desert Blues from Terakaft
I am a fairly recent convert to the joys of African music in general and desert blues in particular. I discovered Terakaft because I received that oh-so-common suggestion of ‘If you like X, you’ll love Y.’ In this case, X was Tinariwen and Y was Terakaft, and it was right!
As it turns out, Terakaft is an offshoot of Tinariwen, a band I saw perform about a year ago and loved. When I heard Terakaft, I was drawn to their brand of desert blues, too. Terakaft, whose name means caravan in the Tamasheq language, is a group of Tuareg musicians (although I’m pretty sure the bass player is not Tuareg) who have left their homeland of Mali due to the extreme difficulty for musicians to work.
The band has two lead guitarists/singers, pictured above. It took a little longer than I expected for the crowd to warm up to them, but I was enthralled from the first notes. Desert blues typically has an almost hypnotic rhythm, and it is very easy to move to this rhythm as much or as little as one wants. About a third of the way through the show, the dance floor became full and Terakaft obviously appreciated it. I felt that their music became even more soulful as the evening progressed.
Both lead guitarists, especially the man with the white head covering, has extraordinarily expressive faces. I have seen Tuareg musicians sing with their faces, other than their eyes, completely covered, and I was thankful their faces were exposed. They did not smile often, but when they did, I was glad to be standing close to the stage to feel the warmth of those smiles.
Their English was almost non-existent but their music spoke from their hearts. The man with the dark head covering thanked the audience a number of times, and at one point he said, ‘Bless you.’
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