One of North Africa’s biggest rock stars, Bombino is a Jazz Fest veteran whose unique story matches the range that Jazz Fest has to offer.
Bombino, whose birth name is Oumara Moctar, is Taureg, an ethnic group of nomadic Berber people who wander across borders through the Sahara Desert. Bombino was 12 when he first heard the electric guitar – while in exile in Algeria during an armed conflict between the Tauregs and the government of Niger.
He became captivated by the sound and over time cultivated a sort of arpeggiated rock/folk/blues style that sounds both exotic and familiar to sensitive Delta Blues ears.
Bombino’s wispy voice shimmers over bright leads of steely, mostly finger-picked notes, and you can’t help but think of the vocals of 1960s rocker Marc Bolan of T. Rex. But unlike T. Rex’s frivolous English mash-ups of hip metaphors, Bombino sings in his native Tamasheq, often about the geopolitical struggles of his people.
Bombino’s influences were more in line with Jimi Hendrix and Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, whom he watched obsessively with friends in Libya and Algeria during his teenage years. He practiced the guitar his relatives gave him while he was herding animals.
The precocious Moctar met famed guitarist Taureg Haja Bebe, who gave him the nickname he carries with him today, an improvisation on “bambino”, the Italian word for “little boy”.
Shortly after his phase of selling mixtapes in 2009, he made his first Jazz Fest appearance in 2012. Bombino, with his genre-erasing World-meets-blues style, has since become a welcome performer at Jazz Fest. .
friday april 29
1:35 p.m.-2:25 p.m. Blues tent
4:45-5:45 p.m. Cultural exchange pavilion