Competing ideological forces in Mali can make it a difficult and dangerous place to follow a musical path. For this reason the members of Songhoy Blues redeployed south from Timbuktu to the capital city, Bamako, in order to continue their work. “We had no idea that one day we could be forbidden from playing music, because music is universal,” says Aliou Toure, the group’s lead singer. They soon came to the attention of Damon Albarn, no stranger to Mali music and ‘world music’ more generally, and the desert band’s world suddenly became bigger, playing at several European festivals and also featuring on the excellent Maison des Jeunes, an album that Albarn and Africa Express recorded in Bamako. The lead single from that album – Soubour – features the Songhoy Blues along with Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and shows just what the band can do.
A welcome UK tour by Songhoy Blues starts January 24th 2015 in Glasgow, and (at the time of writing) these are the scheduled dates: