Amadou and Mariam

by Christine Scott
The husband and wife team of Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia are the dynamic duo of Malian blues, rock and electronica music. On Friday, July 21st, they played to an internationally mixed crowd at the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival in Prospect Park, on one of the hottest days of the summer... but for me, that just added to sultry, hypnotic sounds of their Afro blues style. Although their songs are sung in Bambara, the dominant language of Bamako, Mali, the playfulness in some of their music, along with the intensity of their delivery, needs no interpretation. Being in the press pit right in front of the couple just added to the enjoyment of my experience.
The couple sang six songs from their latest album, "La Confusion", with the title track "Bofou Safou" (which refers to someone who lives and dies for nothing) warning listeners not to let their lives go to waste. It's a catchy, danceable song and it got the crowd up and moving to its infectious beat.
Mali is the birthplace of so many of my favorite African musicians (Ali Farka Touré, Salif Keita, Oumou Sangaré, Vieux Farka Touré, Toumani Diabaté, Issa Bagayogo, etc) where styles range from Afro-pop, blues, rock, and electriconica... all fused into a unique sound featuring traditional instruments like the djembe, kora, balafon and ngoni. It's a mesmerizing mix of genres and sounds... all of which I experienced on Friday night while listening to Amadou and Mariam, appreciating once again the magical music of Mali with it's hypnotic and seductive beat.