Rokia Traoré concert at The Cedar Cultural Center

I saw Rokia Traoré perform at The Cedar Cultural Center last night. My familiarity with Ali Farka Touré and other Malian artists had me expecting a good show. My friend, Shane, heard a good preview on Minnesota Public Radio (at minute 2:17) and was psyched, too. Rokia and her band exceeded our expectations. They packed the house and had everyone dancing. Rokia’s singing was forceful at times and sultry at others, such as when she sang Gershwin’s “The Man I Love” to honor Billie Holiday. I looked around the audience and saw many jaws drop when she showed off her vocal prowess, not to mention her dance moves. The band was tight and having a lot of fun. As a Kentucky boy, I especially liked the banjo-like riffs from the Malian guitar. Their one encore song lasted about twenty minutes, segued in and out of Fela Kuti’s “Lady,” and featured a solo by each member of the band. Shane, Amy, and I went to Palmer’s afterwards, where we sat around the bonfire and swapped concert reviews with other folks who had been there. Don’t miss her when she comes to your town! Below are some video clips from last night’s concert. In the first clip, watch Rokia get rid of her mic stand so she can dance freely. She plays guitar in the second clip.

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