Bombino

Omara "Bombino" Moctar, whose given name is Goumar Almoctar, was born on
January 1st, 1980 in Tidene, Niger, an encampment of nomadic Tuaregs located about
80 kilometers to the northeast of Agadez. He is a member of the Ifoghas tribe, which
belongs to the Kel Air Tuareg federation. His father is a car mechanic and his mother
takes care of the home, as is the Tuareg tradition. Bombino was raised as a Muslim and
taught to consider honor, dignity and generosity as principal tenets of life.

The Tuareg, known amongst themselves as the Kel Tamasheq, have long been
recognized as warriors, traders and travelers of the Sahara Desert - as a people of
grace and nobility as well as fighters of fierce reputation. They are a nomadic people
descended from the Berbers of North Africa and for centuries have fought against
colonialism and the imposition of strict Islamic rule.

Bombino spent his early childhood between the encampment and the town of Agadez,
the largest city in northern Niger (population about 90,000) and long a key part of the
ancient Sahara trade routes connecting North Africa and the Mediterranean with West
Africa. One of seventeen brothers and sisters (including half brothers and half sisters
from both his mother and father), Bombino was enrolled in school in Agadez, but he
demonstrated his rebellious spirit early on and refused to go. Bombino's grandmother
took him in to keep his father from forcing him to go to school, and, like most Tuareg
children, he grew up living with his grandmother.

Eventually, Bombino gave in and began attending a French-Arabic school that taught
both French and classic Arabic. After three years, he left the school and at the age of
nine he returned to his grandmother to live the life of an independent Tuareg child. The
Tuareg culture is matriarchic, and the elder women are considered the chiefs of the
community, the wise sages that represent the power of life, generosity and knowledge.
Bombino's grandmother instilled in him the Tuareg moral code in order for him to grow
up as a respected member of society. Young Tuareg boys are called "arawan n
tchimgharen", or "grandmother's children", a term that is considered a badge of honor.
In 1984, a drought hit Niger and Mali, killing most of the region's livestock, forcing
people to leave the countryside and move into the cities or migrate to Algeria and Libya.

Eventually, Tuareg communities in those countries organized a rebellion to defend their
rights, as they felt overlooked and underrepresented by local governments. Before the
fighting began, rebels began teaching the community about the goals of the rebellion
through song and the recently adopted guitar. Musicians such as Intayaden, Abreyboun
of Tinariwen, Keddo, Abdallah of Niger and others sang popular songs that proclaimed
the rights and heritage of the Tuaregs. The style was called "ishoumar" which derives
from the French word "chomeurs" or "unemployed", because Tuaregs had lost their
herds in the drought and were left with no other means of supporting themselves.

Eventually, the term "ishoumar" became synonymous with "rebels".
In 1990, the first Tuareg rebellion began in Mali and Niger when Tuareg commandos
launched an attack against local military and government offices. The governments
fought back, declaring Tuaregs enemies of the state and forcing many Tuareg's into
exile.

Bombino fled with his father and grandmother to stay near relatives in Algeria. One day
some relatives arrived from the front lines of the rebellion, carrying with them two guitars
that they left behind for a few months. Bombino began to teach himself to play the
guitars, plucking out notes in imitation of the ishoumar songs he had heard.
In 1992 and 1993, the military regime in Niger was replaced with a democratically
elected government, and numerous political parties were formed, largely along ethnic
lines. A Tuareg party was formed, and music once again played an important role in
educating the community, this time about the importance of a democratic system in
Niger. While the armed conflict had not formally ended, Bombino and his family decided
to move back to Agadez.

During a trip to Niamey, Niger for medical treatment, Bombino met with his uncle Rissa
Ixa, a famous Tuareg painter, who gave him a guitar. Upon returning to Agadez,
Bombino joined the Tuareg political party where he met the best guitarist of the party,
aman named Haja Bebe. He started getting lessons, improving to the point where Haja
Bebe invited him to join his band. It was during this time that Bombino acquired his
nickname. As the youngest and smallest member of the band, the other members called
him Bombino, a variation on the Italian word for "little child".

On April 24th, 1995, the Niger government signed a peace treaty with the rebels and
Tuaregs were able to move back to Niger. Around the same time, Bombino got a role as
an extra in the French film Imuhar: A Legend, which was filmed in the nearby desert.
After finishing his work on the film, Bombino settled into life as working musician,
performing at political rallies, weddings, and other ceremonies.

He fought often with his father, who did not want his son to become a musician. To
escape this problem, Bombino decided to travel to Algeria and Libya in 1996. In Libya,
he made friends with some local musicians, and they would spend time watching videos
of Jimi Hendrix, Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits and others in an effort to master their licks.
Bombino was quickly becoming an accomplished guitarist and was in high demand as a
backing musician. While working as a herder in the desert near Tripoli, Libya, Bombino
spent many hours alone watching the animals and practicing his guitar.

Eventually, Bombino decided to return to Niger, where he continued to play with a
number of local bands. As his legend grew, a Spanish documentary film crew helped
Bombino record his first album, which become a local hit on Agadez radio. The success
of the album validated Bombino's choice to make a career out of music, and he began playing regularly for tourists and locals alike.

In 2006, Bombino traveled to California with the band Tidawt for a tour organized by a
non-profit organization. During the trip, he had the chance to record a desert blues
version of the Rolling Stones classic "Hey Negrita" alongside Stones' members Keith
Richards and Charlie Watts. The track appears on the 2008 album spearheaded by
Rolling Stones saxophonist Tim Riese entitled Stone's World: The Rolling Stones
Project Volume 2. Later that year, Bombino served as Angelina Jolie's guide to the
Niger desert region during a weeklong visit. During their time together, he played her the
music of the Tuareg and told her stories of nomadic life in the Sahara.

In 2007, the second Tuareg rebellion began, and the government countermeasures
were forceful and indiscriminant. Many civilians were killed and farms and livestock
were destroyed in an effort to quash the rebellion. Instead, the government's hardhanded tactics only served to galvanize the Tuareg community, and Bombino and his friends joined the rebellion. Government forces killed two of Bombino's musicians, so he fled in exile to Burkina Faso along with many of his fellow Tuaregs.

In 2009, he met filmmaker Ron Wyman who had heard a cassette of Bombino's music
while traveling near Agadez. Wyman was enchanted by Bombino's music and spent a
year seeking him out, eventually tracking him down to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso,
where Bombino was living in exile. While there, Wyman decided to feature Bombino in a
documentary he was filming about the Tuareg. Later that year, he brought Bombino to
Cambridge, Massachusetts to begin recording the album Agadez in his home studio.
Finally, the Tuaregs put down their arms and were allowed to return to Niger. In January
2010, Wyman came to Agadez to finish the album and the film. The sultan of Agadez
allowed them to organize a concert for peace at the base of the Grand Mosque, the first
time such a performance had been permitted. Over a thousand people came to
celebrate the end of the conflict and danced to the irresistible grooves of Bombino and
his band.

Although just thirty years old, Bombino's life and travels have exposed him to the
problems facing his people. He has taken on the mission of helping the Tuareg
community achieve equal rights, peace, maintain their rich cultural heritage and 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," remarks Bombino, "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."

Four thousand years of living in a hostile environment taught the Tuareg that the will to
survive with dignity intact is stronger than any external threat. Bombino puts that
sentiment to music, writes its anthem, and gives it a life of its own. He is known as being emblematic of the next generation of Tuareg, a new voice of the Sahara and Sahel,
fusing traditional Berber rhythms with the energy of rock and roll and songs about
peace. After thirty years of drought, rebellion, and tyranny, Bombino extols his audience
to remember who they are, but also realize who they can be.

Billy Wylder

From the archaic streets of Jerusalem to the small towns of America and all along the way, music has been the thread and source of strength for Billy Wylder. The band features Avi Salloway from Hey Mama/Avi & Celia joined by a boot kick crew of musical vigilantes. Billy Wylder recorded their new album with the help of The Low Anthem in Providence, RI and is now touring America, building the “Wylder family” of fans from town to town.

Billy Wylder, like their peers, the David Wax Museum and Vampire Weekend, bring sounds from around the globe to meld with their American roots, taking the listener on a journey from bayou to borough, desert to dreamland. Wylder’s a rebel on horseback, singing songs with the people he meets, songs of love and adventure, filled with the color of his journey.

“A spiritual cousin to Paul Simon’s Graceland” –Seven Days

$20 advance / $22 day of show

Tickets

The Sinclair is general admission standing room only.
Tickets available at TICKETMASTER.COM, or by phone at 800-745-3000. No service charge on tickets purchased in person at The Sinclair Box office Tuesdays-Saturdays 12-7PM. Please note: box office is cash only.

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Bombino with Billy Wylder

Sunday, December 1 · Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM at The Sinclair