Forget the cold and think ahead to the heat of August, when the 20th annual Roots and Blues Festival showcases music with roots from around the world.
“Reflecting on the first 14 acts to be signed for the 20th Anniversary Roots and Blues, one sees the emerging diversity that has become characteristic of the festival – a rainbow of musical genres that offers anything and everything to the festivalgoer,” says marketing manager Scott Crocker, noting festival organizers recently announced the names of four more perormers. “So far we have a musical range that is globe-spanning and it becomes ever more outstanding.”
Omara “Bombino” Moctar was born in Tidene, Niger, an encampment of nomadic Tuaregs. The Tuareg, known amongst themselves as the Kel Tamasheq, have long been recognized as the warriors, traders and travellers of the Sahara Desert.
They are a people of grace and nobility as well as fighters of fierce reputation, who for centuries have fought against colonialism and the imposition of strict Islamic rule.
In recent times the Tuareg have battled state-sanctioned marginalization and cultural assimilation.
Although just 30 years old, Bombino’s life and travels have exposed him to the problems facing his people and he draws on the Tuareg musical style know as “Ishoumar,” a term which has became synonymous with the rebel movement.
Bombino uses Ishoumar music in his mission to help the Tuareg community achieve equal rights and peace, and as well to maintain their rich cultural heritage and to promote education.
He is an advocate for teaching children the Tuareg language of Tamasheq, the local Haoussa language as well as French and Arabic, all of which he speaks fluently.
“We fought for our rights,” he says “But we have seen that guns are not the solution. We need to change our system. Our children must go to school and learn about their Tuareg identity.”
After five decades in the music business, it is only within the last 10 years that soul legend, Bettye LaVette, has been enjoying the widespread acclaim she deserved much sooner.
Her voice is like velvet and silk and smoke and it has an emotive power that reaches deep into the heart. The Lady is Authentic – she’s been to the places she sings about.
Bettye was born in Muskegon, Michigan and raised in Detroit. At 16 she recorded her first single, My Man – He’s a Lovin’ Man in 1962. She next hit the charts in 1965 with Let Me Down Easy, which is considered by many to be one of the greatest soul recordings of all time.
In 1969 LaVette had two Top 40 R&B hits: He Made A Woman Out Of Me and Do Your Duty. In 1972 she recorded her first full-length album, Child of the Seventies. The mid 1970s saw the release of two 45s and in 1978, she released the disco smash Doin’ the Best that I Can. By 1982 she had signed with Motown and released yet another R&B top 40 hit – Right In The Middle (Of Falling In Love). Somewhat disillusioned with the music industry, she took an extended hiatus from recording and performed in a six year run in the Tony Award winning Broadway revue, Bubbling Brown Sugar.
In the 1990’s Child of the Seventies was rediscovered by Gilles Petard who licensed the album from Atlantic Records and re-released it under his own Art and Soul label as Souvenirs in 2000. Simultaneously, Let Me Down Easy-Live In Concert, was issued by the Dutch Munich label. Both albums sparked a renewed interest in LaVette and in 2003, the award winning album A Woman Like Me was released. Critically acclaimed and hailed as the comeback album of the year in 2004, A Woman Like Me led to a three-record deal with Anti-Records and the release of the 2005 album, I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise, which was a critical and commercial success.
In 2006, she received a well-deserved “Pioneer Award” from The Rhythm and Blues Foundation. Her 2007 album, The Scene of the Crime, was nominated a Grammy Award for “Best Contemporary Blues Album.”
She performed for the Kennedy Centre Honours and the Obama inaugural celebrations and has shared the stage with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr and appeared on David Letterman, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brian, and Austin City Limits.
In 2010, Bettye released Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook, which included unique arrangements and performances of classic songs by The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Animals, Pink Floyd, and more.
The CD was critically acclaimed and she received her second Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album.
The Boom Booms are a six-piece Latin-soul-funk-rock-reggae band, forged from friendships born on the school yards, soccer fields, cafe patios and eventually bars of East Vancouver.
They make music that makes people want to dance to or, “Get up and love somebody,” as lead singer and guitarist Aaron Nazrul calls it.
Whether breaking into song and dance on the streets of Paris, storming stages with Congolese musicians in Brussels, playing to thousands at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival or serenading abuelitas in South America, the charming sextet is able to reach across cultural barriers and connect with people of all stripes, on levels equally rhythmic and emotional.
Mentored by legendary bluesman Albert Collins, Coco Montoya went on to become the guitarist for John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers for 10 years before leading his own band.
A self-taught guitar slinger who plays with an emotional intensity few string benders possess, he plays left-handed and upside down in the style of Albert King and Jimi Hendrix.
Averaging more than 150 tour dates a year, Montoya continues to pack clubs and theatres around the world.
He has played major festivals, including the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, The Chicago Blues Festival, The San Francisco Blues Festival and Canada’s International Jazz Festival.
“Montoya is at the forefront of the contemporary blues world,” declared Guitar World. “He is one of the truly gifted blues artists of his generation,” said Living Blues.
With continued non-stop touring, Coco Montoya continues to share his gift with his legion of admirers all over the world.
Special advance ticket pricing For the Roots and Blues Festival, which runs Aug. 17 to 19 at the Salmon Arm Fairgrounds, will be in effect until May 25. Call 250-833-4096 or visit www.rootsandblues.ca.