MUCH has been said about the origins of the blues (and, from there, American rock ‘n’ roll) in the Mississippi Delta of the United States. However, what are the origins of the “Delta Blues”?

It’s a fascinating question and one that was answered emphatically on Friday night by the superb Malian musician Vieux Farka Touré.

The son of the late, great master of “West African Blues” Ali Farka Touré, Vieux is rooted in a centuries-old musical tradition that predates the brutalities of European colonisation of Africa and the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade (which took enslaved West African people and, with them, West African music to what would become the southern United States).

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Talking Timbuktu, Ali Farka Touré’s Grammy Award-winning album (created with the famous American singer-songwriter Ry Cooder), took the world by storm in the mid-1990s.

As it did so, audiences across the planet suddenly realised that the source of the American, and therefore global, blues and rock ‘n’ roll traditions resided, to a very large degree, in West Africa.

Since that path-breaking record, the world has sat up and listened to a series of outstanding West African musicians (from Malian master Toumani Diabaté to the brilliant Sona Jobarteh from Gambia). Vieux Farka Touré – whose Glasgow gig was part of the fabulous Celtic Connections festival (which concludes its 2023 programme tonight) – is carrying forward the torch of his illustrious father (who died, too young, in his mid-sixties, in 2006) as an ambassador for the music of Mali and West Africa more widely.

Vieux performed at Tramway with just two other musicians (a bass player and drummer/guitarist). He himself played an amplified acoustic guitar and, for most of the show, an electric guitar.

When you can produce the sound that the Malian can produce from a guitar, you don’t need a bigger band. Vieux learned his musicianship from his father, who was a master, not only of the guitar, but of a number of traditional instruments, including the kora (aka “the West African harp”).

That learning has resulted in a genuinely astonishing virtuosity. Whether playing his own compositions or tracks by his father, rollicking bluesy numbers or more meditative tunes, Vieux captivated the crowd like a West African Jimi Hendrix.

Although the beautiful sound of the kora has featured in Vieux’s oeuvre, that extraordinary instrument didn’t make an appearance in the Glasgow show. Nevertheless, the gig was an absolute masterclass in Malian music in the 21st century.

I had the good fortune to see Ali Farka Touré play the Womad festival in 1995. I can think of no better accolade for Vieux than to say that the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.

If Vieux Farka Touré’s set was the quintessence of West African Blues, support act Togo All Stars had the crowd well warmed up with their big band, Afrobeat sound. Fans of the dance music popularised by Nigerian legend Fela Kuti were treated to a no-holds-barred set.

Celtic Connections ends tonight: for more information, visit