Roots blues traveler Markus James joins forces with four West African music masters to cook up what NPR Music calls “Rock with a West African twist” for a Full Moon dance party at The Miner’s Foundry on Friday, Dec. 28.
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Thundering West African percussion meets voodoo-trance North Mississippi-style guitar riffs, with vocals in English and Mali’s Bambara languages.
While James’ original blues-based collaborations, recorded in Mali West Africa and in Mississippi, have received widespread critical acclaim here in the U.S. and in Europe, his live shows with the Wassonrai — West African artists based in Northern California — are uniquely wild affairs, only available at club and festival appearances.
James has been recording and performing original, blues-based music with traditional Malian musicians since 1994, when he first made his way to the village of Niafounke, home of the legendary Sonrai musician Ali Farka Toure.
James was honored to have tracks included in two European compilation releases: “Sahara — Blues of the Desert” (Manteca/Union Square) and “Desert Blues III” (Network), along side such great artists as Ali Farka Toure, Baaba Maal, Yousou N’Dour and Tinariwen.
James’ long-term collaborations in Timbuktu with three Malian master musicians are the subject of the award-winning documentary film “Timbuktoubab,” seen on many PBS stations throughout the U.S.
Originally from Northern Virginia, James has been based in the Bay Area for many years, as are his main collaborators who hail from Mali, Guinea and Benin/Togo. Their live shows are incendiary, fusing houserocking African drumming with trancelike North Mississippi-style slide guitar riffs.
The performance is Friday, Dec. 28, at Miners Foundry Cultural Center, 325 Spring St. in Nevada City. Doors open at 7 p.m. The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are available for $18 for members or $20 for non-members in person at the Nevada City box office or at the Briar Patch by phone at 530-265-5462, or online at minersfoundry.org.