Omara "Bombino" Moctar's last tour of North America, and in particular California, had taken him to High Sierra Music Festival in Quincy. His sole set at the festival was completely packed; it seemed as though the entire population of HSMF had chosen to witness the highly acclaimed Tuareg artist in action. Not only did Bombino amaze the crowd with his stunning guitar work, but he also thoroughly warmed their hearts with his vibrant and sincere personality. Visibly moved by the enthusiastic welcome, he descended the stage steps at set's end all smiles, with his hand on his heart.
Tonight San Francisco has the honor of a visit by Bombino, a musician whose story reads very differently from any other. He first picked up the guitar at 12 years old while living in Algeria, exiled from his native home of Agadez, in Niger, during a Tuareg rebellion. At that time life as a musician was dangerous, and might even result in death at the hands of government forces. Thankfully now, the conflict has ended and the Tuareg people are embraced again in their homeland. Bombino has often expressed his strong desire for the music that he creates to serve as an instrument of peace, a bridge between cultures. His musical style reflects his own cross cultural influences, having been most heavily impressed by West African stars like Tinariwen and Ali Farka Toure as well as by Jimi Hendrix and Mark Knopfler. The end result is something completely unique, and while Bombino's music continues to evolve with the changing times of the Tuareg people and those of his own life, the constant is the feeling of the Sahara Desert which permeates all of his work. Bombino's latest album, Nomad, produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, debuted at number one on Billboard's World Chart. San Francisco is fortunate indeed to be a favorite regular stop in his touring itinerary, because as great as the album is, Bombino's live show may be even better. If you're due for fantastic music with a super positive vibe then don't miss this one.
Bombino plays The Independent tonight, August 31st. Show is at 9.