Mali blues music comes to Los Banos

mgaytan@losbanosenterprise.comNovember 1, 2013 

— Mali blues filled the Los Banos Arts Center last week as duo Mamadou and Vanessa performed music from the Wassoulou Region of Mali, West Africa.

“We loved the Los Banos show,” the group said. “It was a very fun show, with a lovely audience. We’d love to play there again.”

Husband and wife Mamadou and Vanessa Sidibe play as a duo or with other musicians. Mamadou Sidibe is originally from the Wassoulou Region of Mali and now lives in Berkeley. His wife, Vanessa Sidibe, is also a vocalist. The duo is just one of many performers the Los Banos Arts Council is featuring throughout its 2013-14 concert series.

Jeanette Schouten of Gustine, attended Saturday’s concert and said the Arts Council always puts on a good show. “It’s wonderful, absolutely fantastic,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to next month’s (show).”

Mike Groves, who drove from Modesto, was tapping his foot along to the music the entire time, he said. “It’s a very different kind of music than what I’m used of listening to,” he said. “The instruments are just beautiful. I’m enchanted.”

Instruments included a kamale ngoni, bolon and a karinye. “Kamale” means ‘young man’ in Bambara, Mali’s most popular language, according to the duo. Within the last 30 years, the kamale ngoni has become popular in Malian music.

The karinye is a percussion instrument that originated in West Africa hundreds of years ago. The karinye accompanies the kamale ngoni with expanded rhythms, creating a more complex sound.

Mamadou Sidibe has played in Los Banos before, with a different group, said Cyndi Roelofs, Arts Council vice president of program development. Mamadou was invited back. “We listened to his CD and really liked it because it was different,” she said.

Cyndi Roelofs, Arts Council vice president of program development, said that from what she can see, attendees really enjoyed the African instruments. “I loved it,” she said. “It was hypnotic.”

Roelofs had a table set up with the group’s CDs for sale. “I know they sold a lot of CDs,” she said. “Overall, the audience really loved it.”

Performing next at the Los Banos Arts Center is “The Sun Kings,” a Beatles tribute band. Tickets are $20 or $25 on the day of the show, set for 7:30 p.m. Nov. 23. For more information, call the Arts Center at (209)826-6132.

Reporter Marina Gaytan can be reached at (209) 826-3831 ext. 6562 or

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