Videos by American Songwriter
In a documentary for the French website La Blogotheque in 2008, as part of their Concerts A Emporter (“Takeaway Shows”), Sidi Touré is filmed playing in the streets of his hometown, Bamako, Mali. The singer – guitar in hand – weaves through women chatting and children looking on with wonder, as if in one continuous, panoramic shot. At the beginning of the 20-minute film, Touré describes his first record deal, which went south. His CDs were for sale by the thousands in one record store in the U.S. but he never saw a penny. “It urged me to create more, because I create when I’m angry,” he tells the camera in French. Then, in the film, Touré walks outside and into the streets of Bamako singing the song “Bon Koum.” It’s the same song which, two years later, starts off his new album, Sahel Folk, which is being released in the U.S. on Chicago’s Thrill Jockey label, which has also released music from bands like Javelin and Television’s Tom Verlaine. “Bon Koum,” which means “He Regrets,” is a song about a poor man who was once wealthy and with his shady record label experience behind him, Touré seems in touch with how quickly fortunes can change.
While not the formidable guitar virtuoso of his countryman and namesake, Ali Farka Touré, Sidi’s gift is his voice. It possesses a simplicity and kindness that lends itself to storytelling. His tone is warm and fluid and can rush vertically up a scale with grace, and also conveys emotional information like a great jazz singer. On Sahel Folk, Touré is joined by a different musical partner for each song. Jiba Touré, who plays guitar with Sidi and sings about a beautiful woman on “Sïnji,” died this past June, and the album is dedicated to his memory. On “Sïnji,” their guitars move through space like old dance partners. Mali seems to have room for another star Touré.