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There's something alluring and charming about Bombino, whose childlike face belies his fierce, hypnotic guitar playing. The first time I saw him perform, I found myself screaming his name at the end of every song — partly to praise his amazing jams, but also as an exercise in bonding. It felt as if I were yelling out to a buddy on stage, even though I'd never met him. I just felt a connection; his sound is that personable and familiar.
Omara "Bombino" Moctar is a Tuareg guitarist, born in Niger. The familiarity in his music stems from the blues, a common thread between American music and Africa for obvious reasons. Bombino grew up on the music of Jimi Hendrix, whose sound keeps getting sent back and forth from America to Africa and back again. The American blues-rock duo The Black Keys must have heard this upon listening to Bombino; guitarist Dan Auerbach went on to produce Nomad, Bombino's new album. But there's also an innocence to Bombino, and a sense of simple, honest discovery that shows up in his smile as he plays. You may find yourself screaming his name, too, after watching this performance.
Producers: Bob Boilen, Denise DeBelius; Editor: Parker Miles Blohm; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Parker Miles Blohm, Chloe Coleman, Denise DeBelius; photo by Erica Yoon/NPR