Mali’s Songhoy Blues to headline Bushfire 2016 in Swaziland

MTN Bushfire is Swaziland’s internationally acclaimed music and arts festival. Recently named as BBC’s Top African Festival, Bushfire returns from 27 to 29 May this year with an exciting line-up that already includes Malian stars Songhoy Blues and South African duo Mafikizolo.

UK-based Malian band Songhoy Blues will headline Bushfire in Swaziland in May. Photo: Facebook
UK-based Malian band Songhoy Blues will headline Bushfire in Swaziland in May. Photo: Facebook

Each year a multi-generational global community of more than 20 000 “bring their fire” to the scenic farmlands of the Malkerns Valley to experience the three-day event.  As in previous years, the MTN Bushfire artist line-up will feature a dynamic range of artists from across southern Africa and the globe.

MTN Bushfire is proud to announce that Mali’s internationally acclaimed Songhoy Blues have been confirmed for this year’s main stage. Though their music bears elements of contemporary rock and hip-hop, at its heart is a deep attachment to the homegrown songs and dances of Mali’s Songhoy people, as well as to iconic West African guitar heroes such as the late Ali Farka Touré and Baba Salah.

Formed out of the recent adversity experienced in Mali, Songhoy Blues’ music is full of northern flavours: Gao takamba, Touareg guitar, Songhoy trance and traditional desert melodies. But tired old ‘world music’ prejudices have no place when describing this band. Songhoy Blues are four young guys, playing guitar, drums, bass and vocals, with driving rhythms, big hearts and an important story to tell. Their 2015 debut album, Music In Exile, released internationally on UK label Transgressive Records, was well received all over the world, with top music magazine NME describing it as “a masterpiece of desert blues, blending American guitar licks with Malian grooves.”

Also confirmed for 2016 is the exciting new South African collaborative outfit Bombshelter Beast. This group of renegades offers an eclectic, genre-breaking fusion of Afrikaans, jazz, Afro-beats and hip-hop, which has to be seen to be believed. Their ever-changing international line-up will at Bushfire feature kwaito talent Pitch Black Afro, currently on the comeback trail after a string of massive hits nearly a decade ago.

One of South Africa’s hottest acts in recent years, Mafikizolo, will also been confirmed for Bushfire 2016. One of South Africa’s leading musical ambassadors, the band have spent much of the past two years  touring all over Africa and beyond. Meanwhile, local acts from Swaziland already confirmed include Bholoja, Nomzamo ‘Zaza’ Dlamini and Fanaza. South African artists also confirmed include cutting-edge acts such as Native Young, Nomadic Orchestra, Felix Laband and Toby2Shoes.

Joining these already confirmed artists from further afield are Pablo Nouvelle, a filmmaker and musician from Switzerland who takes soul “back to the future” with a combination of new sounds and old samples. Manu Delago, an Austrian percussionist and composer, best known as Bjork’s hang drummer, will also perform alongside saxophonist and clarinet player Pepe Auer.

Many more acts are still being finalized and will be announced over the next few months in the build-up to the festival.

Tickets on sale now

Limited ‘early bird’ tickets went on sale on 15 January via the MTN Bushfire online platforms. They sold out with five days. Full price ‘pre-sale’ tickets went on sale from Wednesday 20 January. This year, to improve and simplify your MTN Bushfire experience, there are a variety of ticketing options, including tickets with or without camping, full festival or day passes, and other options. Please note that there will be no physical tickets on sale - all tickets will be digital. 

Fans are urged to book tickets early to avoid disappointment (remember that tickets for last year’s event sold out in the week before the festival, which was afterwards hailed as its most successful to date). For more details or to purchase tickets, visit the MTN Bushfire website and Facebook page.

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