To be completely honest before attending this concert I did not know what to expect from Bouriema Touré. I was even confused about which name he is going by because you would sometimes see Bouriema and sometimes Vieux Farka. Irregardless of which moniker he was going by the man is an endlessly talented musician. Taking the stage at Kola Note at 9 p.m., Bouriema proceeded to play his guitars (electric and acoustic) with a flair and talent that I have not often seen. Obviously his Grammy-winning father's, the recently deceased Ali Farka Touré, talent has been passed on to his son. Ali Farka did not want his son playing music as his experience had been difficult so he did not want his son to go through this as well. Bouriema had to teach himself how to play behind his father's back. When you learn this then it is even more impressive what a skilled guitar player he is.
The type of music that Bouriema plays is hard to pin down as he plays a Saharan music but also borrows heavily from other genres, such as reggae and blues. His music has been labeled as desert blues and I think that is a fair one. Some of his more bluesy numbers would have been right up B.B. King's alley and showed that he is obviously a student/fan of the genre. His first solo album, with the last work of his legendary father, was released in February of this year and already this young man has gained fans all over the globe. Montrealers are not ones to be left out of the musical loop, so Kola Note was basically completely full for the show with a nice vibe happening all night.
Backed by a four-piece band (including Tim Keiper on drums, Seckou Touré on percussion/backing vocals and Eric Herman on bass/backing vocals), Bouriema played two sets of 45 minutes each. Bouriema took the stage and told the audience he was quite happy to be in Montreal as he was not intimidated by the cold and he was glad he would be able to speak French for a change. He spoke French all night long and was in a very conversational mood, as he often engaged in dialogue with the audience. He has a nice stage presence and is quite playful with the audience. By the third song he was asking people to get up and dance and by his fifth number they obliged and never sat down again. The dance floor was packed all evening. All his material is sung in his native (Mali) language and is quite beautiful. He played mostly material from his first release, including Ana, Ma Hine Cocore and Dounia.
It was an evening of great guitar music and a nice introduction (for me at least) to the music of Mali. Bouriema mentioned that it was his first time in Montreal and as he mingled with audience members after the show, I am sure he would be anxious to come back to play again. It would be a no-brainer for the people at Nuits D'Afrique to invite him back.