A Night in Timbuktu with the Tandina Family, part I

August 5, 2010

While tearing around the laterite roads of Mali in a 4×4 and sharing meals on Dogon rooftops we befriended our songhaï (they pronounce it “so-rai”) driver, Alfa Tandina, an incredibly affable dude who exudes a joie-de-vivre like no other, plays a mean game of 151 (a Malian card game), and with whom you can be sure to enjoy many a cup of Malian tea.
Over a meal in Mopti, Alfa mentioned that up in Timbuktu he had a guitarist uncle, Abba Tandina who played all the time with his wife, Bientou Garba, and that if we wanted we could all meet up for a night of jamming.
I jumped at the chance and a week later, at the end of our stay in the city of 333 saints, we hung out with the entire Tandina clan in their home for 4-5 hours. It was teeming with kids both their own and from the neighborhood, and the minute the music (and of course the dancing) got going the night had the feel of an impromptu party.
I managed to record a large portion of the evening’s festivities. First up, Bientou Garba sings a bit in Tamashek, Songhai, and Peul (and perhaps other languages for all I know!).
Accompanying her on electric guitar and drums were her sons Abu and Sorey Tandina and here and there I can be heard noodling along in the background on a fairly drastically out-of-tune electric. The wannabe ethnomusicologist in me rues the fact that I didn’t get more details on the songs themselves, the titles, their origins, etc. But at the same time, it might have ruined the vibe to be diligently note taking for the sake of academic exercise! Apparently the second track, “Touaï”, is about a woman who refuses to pop her head out of the mosquito net unless her new husband returned with gold and a cow!
Coming next, the rocking Mali blues licks of Abba Tandina…

Senta Kamba – Bientou Garba and the Tandina Kids

Touaï – Bientou Garba and the Tandina Kids

Touaï description – Bientou Garba

Track 3 – Bientou Garba and the Tandina Kids


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