Ciao miei amici,
Greetings from Milano, Italy. I am riding a wild Tuareg wave with my African brother, Bombino and co. We're one month into a three month tour across Europe and North America. It's quite the trip! Our caravan stops in Zagreb, Croatia tomorrow to play a festival with the Black Keys followed by dates in Slovenia and Portugal. We’re here in Europe for one more week and then fly to Detroit to kick off a run of festivals in the States and Canada. Come join the ride! Full tour schedule here. Check out the story of Billy and Bombino below.
Bombino & Wylder at the New Orleans Jazz Fest
In March of 2011 I was hanging out with this amazing Yemenite-Israeli singer, Ravid Kahalani in his flat in Tel Aviv. We were sharing music with each other and he showed me this clip of this Tuareg guitarist performing on the desert streets of Agadez, Niger. This cat was wailing like a Saharan Hendrix and his tribe of brothers and sisters were dressed in beautiful tunics and turbans, clapping and dancing as they celebrated their newly found independence. Oumara “Bombino” Moctar had lived in exile in Algeria and Libya during the first Tuareg rebellion in the ‘90s and in Burkina Faso during the second uprising from 2007-10. The guitar was banned by the government as a symbol of the rebellion and two of Bombino’s band mates were executed. However Bombino did not stop playing, rather the guitar became his instrument of strength, lifting his people’s spirits in the face of war, poverty, and desertification.
I was immediately captivated while watching this clip from Agadez and became a fast fan. Digging deeper into Bombino’s history and learning his songs from recordings, I became more and more moved by this character and the anthems of the Tuareg people. I befriended Ron Wyman, the filmmaker who brought Bombino’s music and story to the world. Through the grapevine Bombino and I became friends; we’d jam and make African feasts when he and his band would come to Boston. Music was our first common language and its power of mobility and transformation was the thread that bound us together. Over the past year, I have had the honor of performing with Bombino at Carnegie Hall, the Newport Folk Festival, Coachella, the New Orleans Jazz Fest and now throughout Europe. As Muslims praise Allah, Hamdullah, hamdullah, hamdullah!!
Wylder & Bombino hanging at Coachella after our set
When the spirit of Billy Wylder first came to me in Jerusalem, this is what rang true to me. A nomadic musician, taking risks, traveling through the different corners of the earth, building a fabric of friendship along the way through songs and openness. This is what the Wylder family is all about. I am grateful to all the colorful and gracious beings I have met along the way; for my freedom and the opportunity to create. It’s a long journey filled with light and darkness, holy beauty shadowed by injustice and struggle; we must make the road by walking. "I do not see my guitar as a gun but rather as a hammer with which to help build the house of the Tuareg people." –Bombino. I couldn't agree with him more!
Sending you all good ju-ju from the road to Zagreb!
p.s. check out the clip of us jamming in a van in New Orleans + live in Miami
Wylder family shows in store for the fall + Moonshine. Stay tuned!