Credit: Newport Folk Festival

The Newport Folk Festival today announced that Mdou Moctar has been added to the 2023 Newport Folk Festival lineup.

The Tuareg rock band from Agadez, Niger will perform on Friday, July 28, 2023, at Fort Adams State Park.

More about the band from their website;

Prodigious Tuareg guitarist and songwriter Mdou Moctar boldly reforges contemporary Saharan music and “rock music“ by melding Eddie Van Halen pyrotechnics, full-blast noise and guitar shredding, field recordings, drums rhythms, poetic meditations on love, religion, women’s rights, inequality and Western Africa’s exploitation at the hands of colonial powers to rip a new hole in the sky with the Afrique Victime album.

Mdou Moctar’s home is Agadez, a desert village in rural Niger. Inspired by YouTube videos of Eddie Van Halen’s six string techniques and traditional Tuareg melodies, he mastered the guitar which he himself built and created his own burning style.  A born charismatic, Mdou went on to tell his story as an aspiring artist by writing, producing & starring in the first Tuareg language film: a remake of Purple Rain called Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai –  which translates to “Rain The Color Of Blue With A Little Red In It”, winning the approval of his family and his community. The word and the sound travelled across West Africa via mobile phone data cards, a popular form of local music distribution. Gruelling DIY world tours and albums on the independent US label Sahel Sounds followed, including 2019’s landmark Ilana: The Creator album that earned Mdou Moctar an ecstatic international audience.

Afrique Victime is result of the combined efforts of Mdou and the members of the band that shares his name. Mdou’s crucial collaborator is Ahmoudou Madassane, who’s been his rhythm guitarist since 2008- their two guitars are an alchemical combination. As a songwriter, producer and recording artist Ahmoudou is the premier musical ambassador to Tuaregs in Niger, empowering young musicians with instruments, recording opportunities, and visas. Masassane helped form the revolutionary first woman-fronted Tuareg guitar band Les Filles De Illighadad, whose debut album and tours caused an international sensation in 2019.

The band‘s youngest member is prodigal drummer Souleymane Ibrahim, also a member of both the well-known Niger band Sultanat Star De L’air and the longest running wedding band in Agadez, Etran De L’air. Souleymane’s playing on this album ferociously sets a new standard for the “rock” drumset.

Producer & bassist Mikey Coltun flies 20 hours from Brooklyn, NYC, then takes a 28 hour bus ride to reach Agadez so the band can practice and record. With no support from a major label or a manager, they made this journey out of Niger every time they toured. In the past three years, Mikey’s played over 500 shows on three continents as Mdou Moctar’s bassist, road manager, producer/recording engineer, and friend. Coltun recorded and produced Afrique Victime around the band’s travels in 2019- in studios, apartments, hotel rooms, venue backstages, and in field recordings in Niger. 

YouTube video

On their behalf, Newport Festivals Foundation has made a grant to Playing For Change Foundation, a LA-based nonprofit that offers music education for marginalized and at-risk youth in the developing world. Funds will be used to buy two guitars and one amp for their students in the Joudour Sahara program in Morocco, to help them develop as the next generation of artists in the Sahara Desert, where the desert blues style is very popular.

The sold-out 2023 Newport Folk Festival will take place July 28 – 30, 2023, at Fort Adams State Park.

2023 Newport Folk Festival Lineup

This announcement is just one of several recently made by the Newport Folk Festival. The festival’s Artist Gives program, which donates funds to music education programs for every artist on the lineup, has also seen donations made to various other charities.

Among the previously announced lineup artists is Danielle Ponder, a R&B/Soul artist from Rochester, New York, who will make her return to Newport on Saturday, July 29.

On Danielle’s behalf, Newport Festivals Foundation has made a grant to the Center For Community Awareness which provides services to people and communities impacted by the criminal legal system. Funds will help support the creation of a recording studio at their Youth Center in Brooklyn to provide audio engineering workshops for 50 youth involved in or at risk of involvement in the criminal legal system.

Abraham Alexander will perform on Sunday, July 30. Born in Greece to parents of Nigerian descent, Abraham Alexander moved to Texas with his family at age 11, determined to escape the racial tensions they faced in his birthplace, Athens.

In the making of his debut EP, Alexander traveled from Fort Worth to London, shaping his songs with elements of soul, hip-hop, and blues. He is currently working on his follow-up album with Grammy-nominated producer and songwriter Brad Cook (Bon Iver, Waxahatchee).

On Abraham’s behalf, Newport Festivals Foundation has made a grant to Gladney Center for Adoption, a nonprofit based in Fort Worth, Texas. The funds will be used to provide music therapy for 40 children at their adoptee camp (Camp Forge) this summer. NFF also provided a grant to Abraham to visit their facilities in February to meet families on campus at Gladney who are learning and getting equipped for their adoption journey.

Nanna Hilmarsdóttir, an Icelandic singer-songwriter who rose to fame as the lead vocalist of the indie folk-pop band Of Monsters and Men, will perform on Saturday, July 29. On her behalf, Newport Festivals Foundation has made a grant to Daniel’s Music Foundation, which provides music instruction, performance, and social opportunities to adults and children with disabilities. Funds will be used to provide free music instruction to adults and children with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities at their New York center.

Bartees Strange, a rising musician and songwriter hailing from Mustang, Oklahoma, who has been making waves in the music industry with his unique blend of rock, hip-hop, and indie-pop, who will perform at Fort Adams State Park on Saturday, July 29.

Orville Peck, a Canadian singer-songwriter and musician, known for his distinctive style that blends classic country and western with dark, cinematic elements, will perform on Sunday, July 30. He first gained attention in 2017 when he released his debut single, “Big Sky,” under the pseudonym Orville Peck. On Orville’s behalf, the Newport Festivals Foundation has made a grant to Fender Play Foundation, which provides new Fender guitars, basses, and ukuleles to elementary and middle school students. Funds will be used to support audio and visual recording of an end of year showcase for students from 10 elementary schools to perform for the community at an outdoor park in Los Angeles

The Backseat Lovers, an indie rock band from Salt Lake City, Utah, who will perform on Saturday, July 29. The band consists of lead vocalist and guitarist Joshua Harmon, drummer Juice Welch, bassist and backing vocalist Jonas Swanson, and lead guitarist and keyboardist Ethan Christensen. On behalf of The Backseat Lovers a donation has been made to the Nurture the Creative Mind, an organization in their home state of Utah that provides free multimedia experiences for youth including music production, recording and film. 

Jupiter & Okwess, a Congolese band that has garnered international recognition for its unique fusion of traditional Congolese rhythms with contemporary rock and funk influences, will perform on Sunday, July 30. The band is known for its high-energy live performances and has been lauded for its commitment to using music as a means of promoting social change and cultural exchange. On their behalf, Newport Festivals Foundation has made a donation to Guitars not Guns, a nonprofit organization that provides guitars and lessons to foster children and at-risk youth as a way to steer them away from violence. The funds donated by Newport Festivals Foundation on behalf of Jupiter & Okwess will be used to purchase guitars, straps, tuners, gig-bags, and instruction books.

Jonathan Richman, an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist known for his minimalist, acoustic sound and quirky, often humorous lyrics, will perform on Sunday, July 30. Richman’s donation will support the festival’s music education programs.

Billy Strings, an American bluegrass guitarist and singer, has also been announced as a performer and will perform on Sunday, July 30. On his behalf, Newport Festivals Foundation has made a grant to the Appalachian Artisan Center’s Culture of Recovery program, which teaches people suffering from substance abuse disorders to build high-quality stringed musical instruments.

New Zealand indie-pop band The Beths is also set to perform at the festival on Friday, July 28, and on their behalf, Newport Festivals Foundation has made a grant to Die Jim Crow Records, a non-profit record label dedicated to releasing the music of formerly and currently incarcerated musicians.

CAAMP, the Ohio-based folk-indie band, kicked off the festival’s lineup and will perform on Friday, July 28. The band has previously played at the festival and is passionate about supporting music education programs. This year, they have generously agreed to match Newport Folk’s grant to support the Harmony Project, a music education program in Columbus, OH.

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Goose to perform at the 2023 Newport Folk Festival

For their Artist Give, Goose asked Newport Festivals Foundation to provide a grant to TeachRock, which uses music to make history, science, math, language arts and other subject areas exciting and relevant to young people.


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