After close to six years of reviewing music I don't whether it's less forgivable or more understandable that I would get trapped into assuming I'd know what to expect musically from a band based on the region of the world they come from. There's no use denying that after a while as a reviewer you come to expect a particular sound from musicians based on where they live. However, it's also a disservice to any artist to automatically attempt to pigeonhole them for any reason. People changing, evolving, growing bored with an approach and looking for new ways in which to express themselves is the very nature of art. Therefore, just because a band is from an area of the world which has become known for a very distinct style of music is no reason to expect the same from them, no matter what they've recorded in the past.
Over the past decade or so the music of the Tuareg, or Kel Tamashek, people of the sub-Saharan desert region of North Africa has been heard more and more in Europe and North America. Its distinctive mixture of traditional rhythms and modern electric guitar has grabbed the attention of world music and popular music fans alike. Bands like Tinarwian and individuals like Bombino (Omara "Bombino" Moctar) have garnered international recognition with their performances and recordings and have done much to popularize the music. Born out of rebellion, most of the first generation of musicians had taken part in uprisings by the Kel Tamashek against the governments of Mali and Niger, as a means of inspiring their people to keep fighting for their rights and reminding them of their cultural traditions. The music has gone from being banned by regional governments to being in demand at international music festivals.
While not as well known internationally, Group Doueh, a family band headed by father Salmou Bamaar on guitar, has been around since the early days of both the Kel Tamashek rebellions and the guitar-driven music it spawned. Like others Bamaar lived with the knowledge that just by playing his music he was risking his life. Members of Bombino's original band were assassinated by the Niger government, and at one time possession of any "guitar player" music was against the law. Its only been since the peace treaties of late 2009 that it has been safe for musicians from Niger to return from exile. Still, cassettes of their music were made and passed from hand to hand, listened to by the people, and made their way into the hands of interested outsiders.