Etran Finatawa's Hypnotic African Blues at MIM

If you're put off by "foreign" music (aka - where the sung language isn't English), Etran Finatawa can probably squash your hang-ups.

The Niger, West Africa-based ensemble intermingles all sorts of styles that shouldn't be all weird to the American ear: Traditional African rhythms and percussion; expanded sections of hi-fi electric guitar; and hypnotic vocals that teeter somewhere in between the bewitching, the bluesy, and the antediluvian. And though it's true that the group features the cultural influences of the Wodaabe and Tuareg people --two Saharan Desert-area tribes that probably aren't the best known to Statesiders -- it really shouldn't matter what language they're singing in.

For comparison's sake, they kind of do the Ali Farka Touré thing where Arabic influences of North Africa are fused with rhythms popular to many West African nations. But frankly, Etran Finatawa, which translates to "the stars of tradition," is making music that isn't the easiest to find these days, especially in West Africa. (That's because traditional sounds have been replaced by pop artists such as Yossour N'Dour of Senegal while hip-life runs rampant in Ghana and Nigeria, thanks to genre founder Reggie Rockstone.)

One can also argue that nobody on this planet is making this type of art -- it's not often that the Niger tribes of the desert nomadic Tuareg and the colorfully dressed Wodaabe commingle efforts.

It may even been enough to permanently ditch your world-music hang-ups.

Etran Finatawa are scheduled to perform at the Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 East Mayo Boulevard, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Per show tickets cost $32 to $36. Call 480-478-6001 or go to

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Steve Jansen
Contact: Steve Jansen