This post is from Out the Other's 2009 Bonnaroo Artist Previews, where I will be posting previews of all the musical acts playing the 2009 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. Please check out and subscribe to the full site to learn more about all of this year's performers.
Editor's note: This is a guest preview from Seth Riddle, who got to play A&R for some cool folks like Rough Trade and has done a bunch of stuff he never thought he'd do but mostly he has been writing about music, photographing it (which besides being ludicrous is an absolutely impossible notion), traveling with it, marrying it, divorcing it, selling it, but most importantly listening to it and always wanting to love it for as long as he can remember or at least since buying his first 45 at the age of five "Another One Bites the Dust" and another one falls and another one falls... Seth can be reached at http://sundaydinner.tumblr.com.
Hearing them for the first time in the Summer of 2008, I was a late comer to Amadou & Mariam. The music of this blind Malian duo is sublime-- vocals, arrangements, easy grooves, and some of the most interesting guitar tones I have ever heard. It's the kind of music Vampire Weekend would make if they weren't the over-intellectualized, world-music equivalent of Vanilla Ice.
This music gobbles you up like some biblical fish that you are more than happy to be eaten by—you and Jonah, just kickin’ it in the belly of the whale. It's like when you first cottoned-on to Lee Perry's rare brand of magic and could hear it and feel it sprinkled on the heads of Marley and Strummer and whatever gang of drummers happened to be assembled outside the Black Ark. It's dropping the needle on the record and discovering the smooth voices of Jorge Ben or Doc Watson. It was when you saw the truth. It was when you found the treasure map and for this one time "X" really did mark the spot and, digging down, you found that the treasure was so much more than you could have imagined.
When you find something like this you tell people-- you roll it up, light it, breathe deep and pass that spliff. That's why I was disappointed when I ran downstairs to tell a colleague about my new discovery and he said, "Yes, they played ACL when I was an organizer and they came on and everyone looked around at each other and didn’t really know what to do."
Don't go see this splendid band Friday night. Go HEAR them. Stand out in the sun and shut your eyes and feel it start to cool and wait, just wait for the sound to come trickling across the fields and dance and dance and just be.
Amadou & Mariam will play the The Other Tent on Friday from 7-8 p.m. Check out the Full Bonnaroo schedule on the official Bonnaroo website.