Arriving at our rehearsal in Dialakorodji, we remove our Sotrama bus face-masks with a dramatic wipe of our dusty eyes. We walk from the sand piste to find the usual scene of gazing children, tea-making friends and of course, hard-working musicians working intensely. Normally we rely on the far-reaching sound of Ton Ton’s tama to find our way to Andra Kouyaté’s al fresco rehearsal space but today feels different, somehow more familiar and we stroll in the right direction with ease.
As we settle down, we enjoy the last few songs of Andra’s band. The sun begins to set and as a red fog descends upon the streets our audience of children grows, defying the usual 7 o’clock prayer-time curfew.
We say our ‘Nche’s’ and ‘Ekakeneh’s’ before the rehearsal begins.
While the orange mud brick wall behind us radiates the days dry heat and Mikaela’s microphone distorts gently we begin to wonder whether this rehearsal space could not be improved with some relocation work.
But as Aramata waves an offer of porridge in our direction, the children dance and a local farmer passes us with his twelve strong cattle herd mooing loudly into the dusk air, we understand Andra’s choice of space.
In the few rehearsals we’ve had so far, we’ve worked on mixing a couple of traditional songs from home with Bambara songs. The result; the start of someting we hope to record at the end of March.