Finally, the global citizen Bai Kamara Jr. has plucked up the courage to record a blues album: Salone.
Why does a funky soul man suddenly want to sing the blues?
I have lived for over half a century now and I have real stories to tell that fit the blues format. I didn’t want to mask or over-arrange anymore. Don’t forget that the blues are the roots of soul music. I have always loved the blues. I discovered the genre listening to ZZ Top when growing up in the UK. Backtracking, I found John Lee Hooker and Ali Farka Touré, who definitely influenced this album, but at the same time, Brussels also did. I became a professional musician playing at local blues bars.
How did you reconcile the blues heritage with your European lifestyle?
With the blues, you can’t fake it. I only lived the first 15 years of my life in Sierra Leone. At 23, I arrived in Brussels, where my mother was the ambassador. I lead a middle-class life and I’m not going to pretend anything else. If I had made this album fifteen years ago, it probably would have sounded like a typical American blues recording. Now it resonates with my own heritage and my contemporary European frustrations. In “Morning Kids Run Blues” I tackle my daily struggles to drop my boys off at school on time. Elsewhere I blast the short life span of their iPads, which are, when broken, cheaper to rebuy than to repair. Blues isn’t always about sadness, I wanted to add a bit of tongue in cheek humour, while my West African heritage is reflected in the authenticity of the live band, whose rhythm section is rooted in Togo and Burkina Faso.
Why did you call your new band The Voodoo Sniffers?
My mum died about five years ago. She was a Christian, just like me, but still, before the funeral, my sister hired this local gentleman, a voodoo sniffer, to find out where the spells were kept and chase them away, so everyone would be safe. It’s all about healing. This band and the new tour allow me to take a step back to go forward again.
SALONE. Release: 24/1