African Guitar-wielding Troubadours & Chanteuses Heading to a Nightclub Near You

Habib Koite
Habib Koite

Concert Preview: Putumayo Presents Acoustic Africa:

The Putumayo Presents: Acoustic Africa Concert Tour with Habib Koité (Mali) and Dobet Ghanorè (Ivory Coast), in support of the Putumayo Presents Acoustic Africa CD, will appear at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley October 13 – 15, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. show times. The guitarist-songwriter-vocalist Koitè and his stellar band, Bamada returns to Seattle and Jazz Alley.

Also hailing from West Africa, newcomer, Ghanorè will appear in Seattle for the first time as part of the 40 cities tour which includes Europe and North America. South African Vusi Mahlasela joins the tour for selected cities.

I have not had the pleasure of seeing any of the above artists in concert and I am most familiar with Koité’s recordings and biography. Koitè who learned guitar from his griot mother, has performed over 600 concerts worldwide, including the Tuareg Festival au Desert in Saharan Mali. He has collaborated with Bonnie Raitt, one of his biggest supporters. His effervescent vocals, shimmering Afro-blues guitar playing backed by bass, balafon (of veteran Kèlètigui Diabatè), talking drum, harmonica and Malian fiddle should not be missed.

A good starting off point for those not familiar with Koité’s soulful repertoire, is the 2-CD Foly! Live Around the World, released by World Village in 2004. And also check out the live concert video, (Baro), of Bamada on the Putumayo Presents Mali (2005). The live CD (Foly!) has a photograph of a Seattle Bumbershoot crowd enjoying Koité’s 2001 performance. You can see some people with that Seattle-hip expression burning across their faces (they annoy me) and other people smiling like the sun, simply enjoying themselves, not caring how they appear. And Koité bent over the stage, playing his signature guitar, soaking in the adoration. The best way to enjoy this music is to just let it all hang out and allow yourself to feel the gorgeous West African sounds.
One of the reasons why I admire the folks at Putumayo is that this label respects and honors women musicians. Two years ago, I attended Putumayo Presents: Women of Latin America and the label is also featuring a woman musician on the Acoustic Africa tour, Dobet Ghanorè. Her music and name are new to my ears. Hailing from the Ivory Coast, the young singer, dancer and percussionist, Dobet sings in many languages and she immerses herself in an array of musical styles ranging from Manding music to Congolese rumba. Her acoustic line up includes, bass, guitar, traditional instruments, calabash and balafon.

Although I am not familiar with the artist, Afropop Worldwide journalist, Sean Barlow gave her this glowing review. “Wow! Dobet Ghanorè is one helluva talented artist. Powerful singing combined with a charismatic stage presence, original choreography, and theatricality that reminds me of Marie Daulne of Zap Mama.”

Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley is located at 2033 6th Avenue, Suite #255 in downtown Seattle. I recommend making reservations. Go to or call (206) 441-9729.

And if you don’t live in Seattle, check out the listings below.

Date City Venue

10.06 Firenze, IT Festival “Musica dei Popoli”
10.07 Genève, CH Bâtiment des Forces Motrices Genève
10.08 Karlsruhe, BRD Tollhaus
10.10 Huy, BE Centre Culturel de l’Arrondissement de Huy
10.11 Arlon, BE Maison de la Culture d’Arlon
10.13-15 Seattle, WA* Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley
10.18 Berkeley, CA Zellerbach Auditorium
10.19 Saratoga, CA Montalvo Arts Center
10.20 Chico, CA Laxson Auditorium
10.21 Napa, CA Napa Valley Opera House
10.22 Santa Cruz, CA Rio Theatre
10.23 Los Angeles, CA The El Rey Theater
10.25 Tucson, AZ Centennial Hall
10.27 Dallas, TX McFarlin Memorial Auditorium
10.28 Austin, TX Hogg Auditorium
10.29 Boulder, CO Boulder Theater
10.30 Fort Collins, CO Lincoln Center
11.02 Minneapolis, MN Walker Art Center
11.03 Glen Ellyn, IL The McAninch Arts Center
11.04 Chicago, IL Old Town School Of Folk Music
11.05 Madison, WI Wisconsin Union Theater
11.06 Columbus, OH Southern Theatre
11.07 Ripon, WI Demmer Recital Hall
11.08 Notre Dame, IN Leighton Concert Hall
11.09 Athens, OH Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium
11.10 Pittsburgh, PA Byham Theater
11.11 Easton, PA Williams Center for the Arts
11.12 Washington, DC Lisner Auditorium
11.14 New York, NY BB King’s Blues Club
11.15 Northampton, MA Pearl Street Nightclub
11.16 Peekskill, NY Paramount Center for the Arts
11.17 Somerville, MA Somerville Theatre
11.18 Lebanon, NH Lebanon Opera House
11.19 Troy, NY Troy Savings Bank Music Hall

The Acoustic Africa CD features 12 renowned and emerging artists including, Diogal (Senegal), Eneida Marta (Guinea-Bissau), Rajery (Madagascar), Angèlique Kidjo (Benin), Vusi Mahlasela (South Africa), Faya Tess & Lokua Kanza (Congo), Laye Sow (Senegal), Gabriela Mendes (Cape Verde), Habib Koité (Mali), Dobet Ghanorè (Ivory Coast), Manecas Costa (Guinea-Bissau) and Djèlimady Tounkara (Mali).

A portion of Putumayo’s proceeds will support Mercy Corps in their efforts to help victims of AIDS and the Dafur war, and Oxfam’s “Make Trade Fair,” campaign to improve trade conditions in African countries.

Buy Acoustic Africa.

Author: PatriciaHerlevi

Patricia Herlevi is a former music journalist turned music researcher. She is especially interested in raising music consciousness. She is looking for an agent and publisher for her book Whole Music (Soul Food for the Mind Body Spirit). She founded and hosts the blog
The Whole Music Experience and has contributed to World Music Central since 2003.