You may not have heard of Vieux Farka Toure, but perhaps you should. NPR knows about him. The New York Times knows about him. The dirty hippies who were standing next to me and went to Bonnaroo do, too. If you have admiration for (or skill of your own at) guitar, it’s easy to appreciate the kind of talent it takes to make his guitar sound the way he does. Vieux is from Mali (in West Africa), the son of the famous Ali Farka Touré, and he visited our own Rock and Roll Hotel Monday night.
Vieux and his bandmates came onstage to a roar of applause only a little bit later than their scheduled time. Everyone else was wearing flowy African clothing (even his Caucasian drummer, who did a respectable job jumping around with bells on his feet, I might add) but Vieux was dressed like a freakin’ rock star. White polo, white pants, superwhite Nikes and a bling watch– he looked like he was going to one of Diddy’s white parties.
He started off with a few songs off his new album, Fondo. Right from the moment he slung that guitar around his shoulders, it was like his fingers just floated effortlessly across the strings. The first few songs were incredibly upbeat, and everyone was at least bobbing their heads, if not full-out dancing. A few of his friends (including Cheick Hamala Diabaté, another Malian artist) came onstage to dance with him, play instruments, or even just throw dollar bills on him and then walk off.
He slowed things down a bit with a song called “Inne,” with guests from These United States and Shortstack. The next few songs were slow-ish, too, but definitely still had amazing guitar work. I loved it when Tom from These United States and Vieux played together– it was like the slide guitar and the electric guitar were talking to each other.
Overall, the concert was just pure entertainment. I doubt anyone was able to hold onto their Monday grumpiness after that show. Need cheering up but didn’t make it to Monday’s show? Listen to Vieux Farka Toure on Myspace and watch his fingers fly on Youtube.
Inne (avec Tom, Mike, Burleigh)
Nouveau (avec Burleigh)
Walahidu (avec Tom)
Guests: Mike and Burleigh- Shortstack
Tom- These United States