Music News

Habib Koité

With Colorado's just-passed statewide smoking ban prompting threats of legal challenges, Habib Koité -- headliner of Putumayo's Acoustic Africa tour -- may inadvertently add fuel to the debate with his signature song "Cigarette a Bana (No More Cigarette)." Of course, even without the ban, smoking at a West African music concert would be a difficult endeavor, as the hypnotic polyrhythmic beats, talking drum chatter, loping call-and-response and infectious guitar grooves would make it impossible to stop moving long enough to fire up. With an ever-present smile and unbridled energy, Koité carries the torch as a young disciple of Malian griot storytelling and musical tradition, yet adds a Western pop sensibility (like occasional Jimi Hendrix-esque guitar riffs) that give his work a greater world reach. Whether his songs are about cows or the destructiveness of cigarettes, Koité's material speaks to everyone. Also on the bill are South African guitarist/singer-songwriter Vusi Mahlasela and Dobet Gnahoré, whose music is steeped in the traditions of the Bété people in her native Ivory Coast.