Tinariwen is a Tuareg (Berber) music group who play what could best be described as Desert Blues
or Desert Rock. The members of the band first met up in the rebel training camps of Moammar Gadhafi
, who had promised the oppressed Tuaregs that he'd assist in their fight for rights if they'd only assist him first (a promise, of course, not kept).
While living in Gadhafi's rebel camps, the members of Tinariwen were exposed to American blues stars like John Lee Hooker
as well as reggae music
. They incorporated these sounds with their traditional Tuareg music and formed a new genre that they coined ishoumar
Because Tinariwen's music spoke to the the problems of the Tuareg people and directly confronted the political issues surrounding their exile, combined with the fact that the band members were members of an militant organization, Mali and Algeria banned their music for many years. A peace treaty was signed with Mali in 1996, ending this ban. At this time, the members of Tinariwen became full-time musicians and no longer fought in the militia.
Festival in the Desert:
In 2001, after several years of planning, Tinariwen helped to host the first Festival in the Desert, one of the largest world music festivals in the world. The festival annually hosts a number of blues musicians from the United States, as well as a variety of music from around the globe. The festival, while modern in scope and style, hearkens back to the Tuareg tradition of music festivals, an ancient tradition that had nearly died out.
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