Wasn’t planning to be at the Blues Festival yesterday. Happened to meet a guy who’s visiting Portland, here with one of the bands. Bombino! Took it as a sign I should investigate.
Met Bombino at the home of a friend in N.E. Portland. He was checking out a device that you can plug into an electric guitar or bass, sending the music into headphones as loud as you want. He was jamming out, in the chair right next to me – yet others could only hear the brassy taps of an unplugged electric bass.
The title of Bambino’s recent album is Nomad. He doesn’t speak much English (he was occupied anyway), but we managed to communicate about how his tribe is nomadic. Reminded me of the theme behind my dad’s song, Portable Man.
According to his website, the young Tuareg (aka “blue man of the desert”) guitarist and songwriter was raised during an era of armed struggles for independence and violent suppression by government forces. “His electrifying jams capture the spirit of resistance and rebellion while echoing with guitar riffs reminiscent of fellow Africans Tinariwen and Ali Farka Touré as well as Jimi Hendrix, John Lee Hooker and Jimmy Page.”
Arrived at Waterfront Park close to 8pm. Found a schedule. Realized Bombino was already on stage! Made our way to the front row.
As we wandered, we pondered.
Someone said, “Doesn’t seem very Blues-y.”
Heck, might have been me. But nobody made me the Blues police. Besides, Blues has been around for long enough, it touches almost everything. What is Blues? Blues is music to make us feel better about whatever happens to be getting us down. Even under great duress, with music you can let it go. Just dance.