Mdou Moctar

Sunday, April 21, 2019, 8 p.m.

Where: The Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego | get directions

Cost: $15

Age limit: 21+

While looking into Tuareg guitarist Mdou Moctar, who grew up in a desert Nigerian village, I noticed the acts most often cited in the same genre are Tinariwen and Bombino. Reading that helped adjust my perceptual focus and prepared me for what to expect when I started spinning his music, beginning with his 2008 debut album Anar. While I definitely get the RIYL comparisons, there’s a lilting fluidity to the way his guitar rolls over the groove which very much evokes Prince, an artist Moctar reveres so much that he once starred in a Tuareg language remake of Purple Rain. Moctar quite nearly has the early guitar chops of his royal purpleness as well, and more recent releases have seen him playing faster, louder, and farther out than most any of his previously cited desert antecedents. That said, airplay and attention remains elusive in the U.S., where guitars seem to be about as outmoded and unwelcome in pop music as accordions, xylophones, and bagpipes. His next attempt to establish an American foothold is a headline tour that includes an April 21 date at the Casbah.


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