Etran de L’Aïr (or “stars of the Aïr region”) welcomes you to Agadez, the capital city of Saharan rock. Playing for over 25 years, Etran has emerged as stars of the local wedding circuit. Beloved for their dynamic repertoire of hypnotic solos and sun schlazed melodies, Etran stakes out a place for Agadez guitar music. Playing a sound that invokes the desert metropolis, “Agadez” celebrates the sounds of all the dynamism of a hometown wedding.
Etran is a family band composed of brothers and cousins, all born and raised in the small neighborhood of Abalane, just in the shadow of the grand mosque. Sons of nomadic families that settled here in the 1970s fleeing the droughts, they all grew up in Agadez. The band was formed in 1995 when current band leader Moussa “Abindi” Ibra was only 9 years old. “We only had one acoustic guitar,” he explains, “and for percussion, we hit a calabash with a sandal.” Over the decades, the band painstakingly pieced together gear to form their band and built an audience by playing everywhere, for everyone. “It was difficult. We would walk to gigs by foot, lugging all our equipment, carrying a small PA and guitars on our backs, 25 kilometers into the bush, to play for free…there’s nowhere in Agadez we haven’t played.”
From the days of the Trans-Saharan caravan in the 14th century to a modern-day stopover for Europe-bound migrants, Agadez is a city that stands at the crossroads, where people and ideas come together. Understandably, it’s here where one of the most ambitious Tuareg guitar has taken hold. Agadez’s style is the fastest, with frenetic electric guitar solos, staccato crash of full drum kits, and flamboyant dancing guitarists. Agadez is the place where artists come to cut their teeth in a lucrative and competitive winner-take-all scene. Guitar bands are an integral part of the social fabric, playing in weddings, baptisms, and political rallies, as well as the occasional concert.
Washington, DC’s DES DEMONAS have been hailed as a favorite of Marc Riley (BBC6 Music/The Fall) and Henry Rollins (KCRW FM/Black Flag) since the release of their debut LP on In The Red Records and their subsequent singles and EP. The group is made up of familiar names from the DC punk, garage, and indie scenes. A Kenyan punk-poet-politico Jacky “Cougar” Abok (Foul Swoops, Thee Lolitas) is on vocals, Mark Cisneros (Hammered Hulls, Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds) is on guitar, Paul Vivari (Benjy Ferree, DJ Soul Call Paul) is on Farfisa organ and bass machine, and Matt Gatwood (Two Inch Astronaut) is on drums.
Des Demonas’ music is a melding of disparate sounds and influences, hitting with a driving pulse and fiery intent.