Baba Commandant & The Mandingo Band and Sid Sriram's Boundless

Join Pioneer Works and Outer Ear Projects to welcome Baba Commandant & The Mandingo Band this June 2. The night will also feature a performance of Sid Sriram's Boundless.

About the Artists

Baba Commandant & The Mandingo Band are a contemporary group from Burkina Faso on the Sublime Frequencies record label. Coming from Bobo-Dioulasso, the group is steeped in the Mandingue musical traditions of their ancestral legacy. The enigmatic lead singer Baba Commandant (Mamadou Sanou) is an original and eccentric character who is well respected in the Burkinabé musical community. A sort of punk Faso Dan Fani activist for traditional Mandingo music, Baba continues to redefine the boundaries between traditional and modern. In 1981, he joined the Koule Dafourou troupe as a dancer. Later, he embarked on his current musical direction as a singer first in Dounia and then in the Afromandingo Band.

His current band — when he’s not playing with the now-famous Burkinabé musician Victor Démé — is the Mandingo Band. At present, he is a practitioner of the Afrobeat style, drawing inspiration from the golden era of Nigerian music. Fela Kuti/Africa 70 and King Sunny Adé are big influences, as is the legendary Malian growler Moussa Doumbia.

Baba Commandant plays the ngoni, the instrument of the Donso (the traditional hunters in this region of Burkina Faso and Mali). His audience comprises multiple generations and strata of Burkinabé society; he accordingly adapts his repertoire to his surroundings, which range from cabaret Sundays in Bobo-Dioulasso to the sound systems of Ouagadougou.

Singer/songwriter/producer Sid Sriram represents a collision point of radically different worlds; a true hybridist. Sriram was born in Chennai, India. His family moved to the San Francisco/Bay Area suburbs when he was one. His duality of cultural roots is integral to Sriram’s identity. Carnatic music is his foundation and fountainhead. He graduated from Berklee College of Music with a degree in Music Production and Engineering. He is a singular force in the world of Indian film music. Sid Sriram's music creates a bold cross section where traditionally disconnected meet and live with one another.

"Boundless was more radical. Sriram began with a Carnatic vocal improvisation, seated at the front of the stage. Electric guitar gradually folded itself into and underneath, then another came in. The group added rhythm, Sriram extended his vocals and began to form words, and pretty soon it was a pounding, thrilling heavy metal set. The distance covered by the first twenty minutes might have been a whole universe, but the journey was not only smooth but logical, a musical wormhole bridging cultures."
- George Grella, Brooklyn Rail

Presented in collaboration with Outer Ear Projects.