To hear Omara “Bombino” Moctar play guitar is to hear the desert wind blowing across his homeland of Niger. His sound also bears the influences of Mark Knopfler and Jimi Hendrix, two guitarists the self-taught young Tuareg discovered and emulated when he was living in exile. When he sings in his native language, Tamashek, he tells of the political strife and suffering of his people, marginalized tribes who roam the Saharan desert. He knows the sorrow of political oppression and has endured the loss of fellow musicians executed because they are musicians. Governments fear the Tuareg guitar and have tried to snuff its voice. The music is hypnotic and powered by blues and rock.
Bombino has risen to international acclaim on the strengths of his blistering guitar work and magical phrasing. When The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach heard Bombino’s album Agadez, he invited the young musician and his band to Nashville where 2013’s Nomad was recorded. Now, like respected African musicians Ali and Vieux Farke Touré and the Tuareg band, Tinarwen, before him, Bombino has realized success beyond his wildest dreams. And while he tours the world, playing his mesmerizing style of guitar, he brings with him the sound of the desert, and a message of hope.