(EAST MEREDITH) On Sunday, August 19, at 7pm, the West Kortright Centre presents Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Touré. This internationally renowned guitar virtuoso is breaking new ground for West African music with his innovative blend of Malian blues, praise song, funk, reggae, and rock. Backed by the hypnotic grooves of his trio, Touré lets loose with exceptional solos, earning him the moniker “Hendrix of the Sahara.” With 11 critically acclaimed albums in his repertoire, Vieux Farka Touré has established himself as one of Africa’s most dazzling guitarists as well as one of its most exciting musicians. His live performances are highly energized, and Vieux is known for dazzling crowds with his speed and dexterity on the guitar, as well as his palpable charisma and luminous smile.
The son of legendary guitarist Ali Farka Touré—who came from a tribe of soldiers and defied his own parents in becoming a musician—Vieux declared that he, too, wanted to be a musician. His father disapproved because of the pressures he had experienced and wanted his son to become a soldier. Ali Farka Touré was weakened with cancer when Vieux announced that he was going to record his first album. Ali recorded a couple of tracks with his son, and they were among his final recordings. It’s said that the senior Touré played rough mixes of these songs when people visited him in his last days, at peace with and proud of his son’s musical talent. Vieux’s self-titled debut album, released by World Village in 2007, pays homage to his father and follows Ali’s musical tradition. On Fondo (Six Degrees, 2009), Vieux branched out and presented his own sound. While remaining true to the roots of his father’s music, he used elements of rock, Latin music, and other African influences.
His third studio album, The Secret (2011), features South African–born vocalist Dave Matthews, Derek Trucks on electric slide guitar, and jazz guitarist John Scofield. The Touré-Raichel Collective—a collaboration with Israeli superstar Idan Raichel—released The Tel Aviv Session in 2012. It was widely hailed as a masterpiece and one of the best collaborative albums in the history of international music, drawing comparisons to Ali Farka Touré and Ry Cooder’s legendary Talking Timbuktu album.
When Vieux's native Mali had been splintered by territorial fighting between Tuareg and Islamic rebels since early 2012, he devoted his 2013 Mon Pays to reminding the world about the beauty and culture of his country. He reunited with Idan Raichel in 2014 to record and tour. The Paris Session (Cumbancha) was revered as not just a musical gem, but a powerful testimonial to the power of art and fraternity to transcend vast cultural and political divides. Another unexpected, genre-bending collaboration, this time with New York–based baroque pop and Appalachian folk singer Julia Easterlin resulted in a 2015 album titled Touristes. It shot to the top of the iTunes World chart and earned critical acclaim, including that of John Schaefer (NPR) who called it “brilliant.” His latest (2017) album Samba, recorded live in front of a small audience at Applehead Studio in Woodstock, NY, debuted at #6 on World Music Charts in Europe and has been hailed by critics as Vieux's finest, most well-rounded and mature to date.
Mamadou Kone (drumset, calabash drum, backing vocals) and Marshall Henry (bass) will fill out this trio performance. Tickets are $30 ($34 day of); WKC Member $27 ($30); $12 Under 19. Tickets are available online until 7pm on Saturday, August 18, with a limited number available on-site at the ticket booth, starting at 6PM on Sunday. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own picnic dinner to enjoy before the show, or purchase a Mexican dinner on-site from Greeneane Farms. The West Kortright Centre is located midway between Oneonta, Delhi, and Stamford. Follow signs from state Route 23 in Davenport Center or state Route 10 east of Delhi. For advance tickets and exact travel directions, visit www.westkc.org or call (607) 278-5454.