BOUBACAR TRAORÉ | London, Rich Mix

Boubacar Traoré delivered a potent blend of North African folk and Deep South blues with the assurance and confidence of a man who has done it all before in far more difficult settings than Rich Mix, however turbulent the venue’s current predicament may be. If you don’t know his back story, it’s well worth a look and is immortalised in print and film.

As a performance, the first indication you get about the extent of fusion about to engulf the stage is the dress of the three performers; Boubacar and his percussionist look resplendent in their traditional dress. The harmonica player packs a punch — blasting out big, discordant solos that bring to mind a Jimi Hendrix reverb-fest. On a harmonica. Awesome.

As for Boubacar, he’s a graceful, elegant guitarist that gives the rhythms he picks out drive and energy seemingly without effort, meaning all the emotion goes into the vocals where it belongs. The mood shifts from wistful to jubilant, the most enduring piece being the slightly cheeky Minuit. I didn’t understand a word (I couldn’t even tell you which songs were French, Bambara or something else entirely), but you find yourself hum-singing along to everything anyway. A must-see for any blues fan who wants something a little different — and well worth a look for everyone else.

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