Vieux Farka Touré set for Celtic Connections 2012
Blues and country influence from son of legendary Malian guitar player
Farka Touré. Where have you heard that name before? Vieux is the son of legendary Malian guitar player Ali Farka Touré, one of the true stars of the world music scene. Farka Touré senior passed away in 2006, but junior has picked up where he left off, incorporating blues and country & western riffs as part of his Mali sound.
Vieux’s 2011 album, The Secret, is a showcase both for his sensitivity to traditional forms, and for his lightning-fast finger-picking. It’s smile-on-the-face stuff, no more so than on the title track, which marks the final collaboration between father and son. The ‘secret’ is not just a metaphor; it refers to the sacred styles of playing – soft, nostalgic and wildly beautiful – that are passed down through generations of African musicians.
‘It was the most important session I have ever done,’ Farka Touré remembers. ‘My father was very sick so my brothers and my cousins needed to carry him into the studio. Yves the engineer put a guitar in his lap. Then we simply played together for three songs. It was magical – the transfer of something sacred between father and son.’
And to think, Ali had wished to sign his son up to the army. It’s something Farka Touré holds no grudges about. ‘You need a lot of the same virtues – strength, character, hard work, courage. It’s just you are using your hands for different things.’
A military life is anathema to your average musician. But Farka Touré is not your average musician. For him, music is duty – to family, to tradition, and to the sacred forms he has mastered. It’s a happy union, one which has produced some hauntingly good music.
And his diligence doesn’t stop there: ‘If I couldn’t play music anymore I think I would become a chef. If you ever need a nice steak, give me a call!’
The Arches, Glasgow, Sun 5 Feb (part of Celtic Connections); Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, Tue 7 Feb