The GRAMMY Award-winning, guitar-shredding desert blues group Tinariwen is made up of Touareg musicians originally from the Sahara Desert region of northern Mali. The band formed while its members were living in exile in Algeria in the 1970s as part of the Touareg rebel community there, bonding over revolutionary politics and a shared love of the radical chaabi protest music of Morocco, Algerian pop rai, and western artists such as Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, and Carlos Santana. Expanding into a collective over the decades, as its members alternated between being musicians and rebel fighters, they returned to Mali at the end of the ‘80s to be part of a Touareg uprising there, then devoted themselves to music full time – gaining popularity in the region through the ‘90s and eventually becoming breakout world music stars in the 2000s – winning celebrity fans such as Bono and Thom Yorke, and collaborating on their records over the next two decades with artists as diverse as Nels Cline, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio, and Kurt Vile. They arrive at FreshGrass as the foremost ambassadors of a uniquely African style of guitar music that has spread like wildfire around the globe, having inspired multiple generations of younger artists.

“Is Tinariwen the greatest band on earth?”
– Slate

“In recent years, Tinariwen’s homeland, a Saharan mountain range between northeastern Mali and southern Algeria, has been transformed into a conflict zone. The songs on their new album, Elwan, evoke those cherished deserts of home.” – No Depression


Tinariwen are poet-guitarists and soul rebels from the Southern Sahara desert. Their music expresses the aspirations of their people, the Kel Tamashek or ‘Touareg’ of the southern Sahara desert. The guitar is their weapon. Simplicity is Freedom.</span