For centuries, the desert town of Agadez has served as a converging point for the great camel caravans driven by the Tuareg that link West Africa with North Africa and the Mediterranean. Born in 1980 at a nomadic camp near this dusty outpost, the young guitarist and songwriter Omara “Bombino” Moctar was raised during an era of armed struggles for Tuareg independence and violent suppression by government forces. Bombino’s electrifying jams capture the spirit of resistance and rebellion while echoing with guitar riffs reminiscent of fellow Africans Tinariwen and Ali Farka Touré not to mention rock and blues icons such as Jimi Hendrix, John Lee Hooker and Jimmy Page.
Ranky Tanky released their eponymous debut on Oct. 20, 2017. By December of that year, the group had been been profiled on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross and their album soared to the #1 positions on the Billboard, iTunes, and Amazon Jazz Charts.
“Gullah” comes from West African language and means “a people blessed by God.” “Ranky Tanky” translates loosely as “Work It,” or “Get Funky!” In this spirit this Charleston, SC-based quintet performs timeless music of Gullah culture born in the southeastern Sea Island region of the United States. From playful game songs to ecstatic shouts, from heartbreaking spirituals to delicate lullabies, the musical roots of Charleston, SC are “rank” and fertile ground from which these contemporary artists are grateful to have grown.
South Carolina natives Quentin Baxter, Kevin Hamilton, Charlton Singleton, and Clay Ross first came together in 1998, fresh out of University, to form a seminal Charleston jazz quartet. Now, united by years apart and a deeper understanding of home, these accomplished artists have come together again, joined by one of the low-country’s most celebrated vocalists Quiana Parler, to revive a “Heartland of American Music” born in their own backyards.