Les Filles De Illighadad - Eghass Malan
Sahel Sounds has become one of those record labels that has gained my full trust. Similar to Matador records in the late 90s, I try to pick up everything they put out. It started with stumbling upon Etran De L’aïr (you gotta check this out!) which led to Mdou Moctar (this too!) and most recently Les Filles de Illighadad. This record gets a ton of play at our home - especially in the evening during dinner or all of the winter backyard COVID campfires. Our kids - usually more inclined to want to listen to musicals - also love this record. Our seven-year-old was awestruck by the pounding of the calabash—a traditional drum that floats in water—when he found some of the group's live performances on YouTube. Les Filles de Illighadad was founded by Fatou Seidi Ghali in Illighadad, Niger. Fatou is considered the first professional guitar player in Niger, teaching herself in secret at the age of 10 on her older brother’s guitar. Their sound is a blend of two traditional types of Nigerian music: Tende, percussive music performed exclusively by women, and Tuareg, a newer guitar-based style played mostly by men. The Tuareg style of playing has always drawn me in. Much in the same way that Beethoven’s Pastoral plops you down in a pasture surrounded by the sounds of birds and rushing streams, the sound of the Tuareg guitar brings to mind vivid images of the Sahara and I can’t get enough of it.
- Will Pratt 4/1/21
Astrid Medina - Tolima, Colombia
Our menu just wouldn't look right without a seasonal offering from our dear friend Astrid Medina. Astrid suffered through a couple seasons of wonky fermentation and trouble with evenly drying her coffees, but her determination really paid off in the long run. This lot of coffee is one of the best we've tasted from her in a long time, with tons of tropical fruit flavors and tea like body that made us think it was really an Ethiopian coffee. Continued success is the least we could hope for Astrid, as she is not only one of the best producers we know, but also one of the best people in general.