See Songhoy Blues at Koko in London on the 4th November
Hailing from the heart of old Gao, Oumar Toure and Aliou Toure were, like most kids growing up in the ancient city, obsessed with hip-hop, R&B and bands like The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. By their early 20s, having met young guitarist Garba Toure (son of Oumar Toure, long term percussionist in Ali Farka Toure’s band), they began to make music while at university.
However, the growing unrest in the north of Mali saw Oumar, Aliou, Garba and many of their family take refuge down south in Bamako as hostilities worsened in early 2012 and their music born from this adversity. “We met up (in Bamako),” remembers Garba, “and told ourselves we couldn’t just stay shipwrecked by a crisis like this. We had to form a band.” They roped in a young drummer called Nathanial ‘Nat’ Dembele from Bamako and baptised their band Songhoy Blues in celebration of their displaced people and culture.