Tinariwen’s Odyssey

From northern Mali to you via Joshua Tree, Calif., comes Tinariwen.  The band will release an album in February and launch a U.S. tour in March.  Destinations include Nashville, Boston, St. Louis and their first SXSW gig.
S.O.B.’S, New York City

Formed more than 30 years ago, the North African band’s lineup includes original members Ag Alhabib, Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni and Alhassane Ag Touhami.  Multi-instrumentalist Eyadou Ag Leche, guitarist Elaga Ag Hamid and percussionist Said Ag Ayad grew up listening to the band before joining the group during the 1990s.

But things aren’t going all that well in Tinariwen’s native Mali, what with al Qaeda-linked fighters, terrorist bombings and U.N. troops playing out a drama in the desert.  So Tinariwen swapped one arid locale for another and set up camp in Joshua Tree to record Emmaar, the follow up to their 2011 long player, Tassili, which snagged a Grammy for best world music album.

Scheduled for a Feb. 11 release, Emmaar includes Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, Chavez guitarist/singer Matt Sweeney, Nashville fiddler Fats Kaplin and poet Saul Williams guesting on the disc.

“We were not in a proper studio or outside in the desert like Tassili,” Ag Leche said.  “We built a studio in a big house in Joshua Tree.  Everybody in the same room, with no separation.  We wanted something which sounded natural and live.”

The tour begins in mid-March at SXSW in Austin, Texas, and wraps in Lafayette, La., at the Festival International de Louisiane in late April.  Here are the dates:

March 13 – Austin, Texas, SXSW
March 18 – Nashville, The High Watt
March 19 – Athens, Ga., Georgia Theatre
March 20 – Carrboro, N.C., Cat’s Cradle
March 21 – Philadelphia, Pa., Prince Music Theatre
March 22 – Washington, D.C., Sixth & I Historic Synagogue
March 23 – Brooklyn, N.Y., Brooklyn Bowl
March 24 – Brooklyn, N.Y., Brooklyn Bowl
March 25 – Boston, Mass., Paradise Rock Club
March 26 – Ridgefield, Conn., Ridgefield Playhouse
March 27 – Northampton, Mass., Iron Horse Music Hall
March 28 – Portland, Maine, Port City Music Hall
April 1 – Pittsburgh, Pa., Andy Warhol Museum
April 2 – Kent, Ohio, The Kent Stage
April 4 – Nelsonville, Ohio, Stuart’s Opera House
April 5 – Chicago, Ill., City Winery Chicago
April 6 – Minneapolis, Minn., Cedar Cultural Center
April 8 – Madison, Wis., Majestic Theatre
April 9 – St. Louis, Mo., Old Rock House
April 11 – Denver, Colo., Bluebird Theater
April 12 – Salt Lake City, Utah, The State Room
April 14 – Seattle, Wash., Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall
April 15 – Portland, Ore., Aladdin Theater
April 17 – Los Angeles, Calif., The Belasco Theater
April 18 – Grass Valley, Calif., The Center For The Arts
April 19 – San Francisco, Calif., The Nourse Theatre
April 21 – Phoenix, Ariz., MIM Music Theater
April 22 – El Prado, N.M.,  Taos Mesa Brewing Company
April 24 – New Orleans, La., House Of Blues
April 25 – Lafayette, La., Downtown Lafayette (Festival International De Louisiane)
April 26 – Lafayette, La., Downtown Lafayette (Festival International De Louisiane)

Tickets for some shows are already on sale.  Click here for more information.