Watch Malian Virtuoso Guitarist Vieux Farka Toure Play the Desert Blues
On his 1988 self-titled debut, Malian singer Ali Farka Touré introduced the world to desert blues, invoking John Lee Hooker comparisons with a finger-picked guitar style that captivated audiences from the Sahara to the United States. His son Vieux, born in 1981, soon followed his father into music, but at first, he did so in secret. Although Ali wished for him to become a soldier, he began playing drums and calabash, then moved to Bamako (Mali’s capital) to study guitar at the Institut National des Arts. Dad eventually came around, and the pair even recorded together before the elder’s 2006 death.
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“I believe that where I am today and what I am doing is all thanks to the blessings of my mother and father – and God,” Vieux Farka Touré tells Rolling Stone. “I don’t have any regrets because I spent a lot of time with my father. We traveled together, we played together. But, as we say, all good things must come to an end.”
Above, watch Vieux unfurl a blanket in an open field and play “Laisse Les Phases” from his father’s 2004 double-album, Red & Green. The clip was directed by Sam Shainberg, who is currently working on Vieux Mali, a narrative film that follows Vieux as he crosses his home country by motorcycle, visiting local musicians in the aftermath of the 2012 Taureg rebellion.