Mdou Moctar

Saturday, July 20th at 3:30 P.M.

Hailing all the way from Africa, Mdou Moctor is a songwriter and musician based in Agadez, Niger. The remote village he grew up in was steeped in religious tradition and secular music was prohibited, so Mdou taught himself to play on a homemade guitar cobbled together out of wood and brake wires from an old bicycle. Years later he finally found a “real” guitar, taught himself to play in secret, immediately became a star amongst the village youth, and even won over local religious leaders. Mdou first became famous through a trading network of cellphones and memory cards in West Africa. Influenced by Jimi Hendrix, Van Halen and Prince, he was one of the first musicians to perform modern electronic adaptations of Tuareg guitar music, a type of Saharan music that takes the electric guitar into trance territory with its frenetic and hypnotizingly repetitious guitar lines. Recorded in Detroit, IL, with Chris Koltay, Ilana is Mdou’s first true studio album with a live band. The album reaches back into Tuareg folklore for inspiration, using traditional elements and combining them with his signature guitar. NPR describes the album as, “the most insane psychedelic guitar album of the 21st century”, and even adds that “Mdou shreds with a relentless and frenetic energy that puts his contemporaries to shame”.