Bobo Dioulasso

This year, I'm spending the months of January and February in the hospitable arms of my friend Arouna Diarra's family in Burkina Faso, West Africa. I’m staying with the extended family, four generations all in the same compound, living very simply…

The main purpose of this journey is to delve deeper into the music of this region and to get a stronger sense of the backdrop from which it comes. I’m studying with renowned guitarist of Bobo Dioulasso, Seydou Dembele. He’s taking me through the traditional repertoire as well as some popular music, like that of Salif Keita. He and Djibi, Arouna’s half brother, are bringing me to weddings and parties that they’re playing music at. Sometimes I’m sitting in on guitar or percussion. The culture is just amazing, every day I’m blown away with something. Having been around West African musicians for some years now in the US, a lot of it is familiar, but there’s so much more depth than I understood before.

Bobo Dioulasso is a cultural capital for the Dioula (Mandingue) people and the musicians, dancers, and storytellers here are phenomenal. Perhaps the best reggae and latin music I’ve ever seen live is here…

Here are some excerpts of me playing bass with the Diarra family and Seydou in Bobo’s go-to music club, Le Bois D’ebene.