Markus James has been recording and performing original, Blues-based music with traditional Malian musicians since 1994, when he first made his way to the village of Niafounke, home of the legendary Sonrai musician Ali Farka Toure. Markus' critically acclaimed Mali-based albums have been warmly received in the US, Europe and Mali, and he was honored to have a track included in the UK compilation "Sahara- Blues of the Desert", alongside such great artists as Ali Farka Toure, Baaba Maal, Yousou N'Dour and Tinariwen. Markus' long-term collaborations in Timbuktu with 3 Malian master musicians is the subject of the award-winning documentary film "Timbuktoubab" ("Excellent" - Global Rhythm), seen on many PBS stations throughout the US.
Markus has performed at the Festival In The Desert 3 times, and in 2007, was invited to perform at the series of Jamal Poi tribute concerts for his friend and inspiration, Ali Farka Toure, in Bamako and Niafounke, which were broadcast on Malian national television.
The UK's fROOTS Magazine called Markus "the unofficial dean of this movement" of up and coming US roots musicians whose focus is the African source.
Markus' new album "Snakeskin Violin" is a kaleidiscopic journey in which fellow travelers appear and vanish, and features collaborations with trance groove Wassoulou hunters in Bamako, a shaman in Timbuktu, old-school drummers in Como, Mississippi, traveling Tamasheks in California, and African Diaspora musicians in the US.
About Snakeskin Violin:
"profound world blues passage... extremely distinctive pieces, driven by a seductive rhythmic circularity that's a keystone of Malian traditional tunes and Delta blues."
"The mix of sounds, instruments, and influences spanning the program is mind-boggling"
—LIVING BLUES MAGAZINE
"Africa and Mississippi come together..."
—BLUES REVUE MAGAZINE
"This is an extremely powerful album"
—Ben Manilla, Executive Producer, House of Blues Radio Hour
Markus James’ Snakeskin Violin featured on:
House of Blues Radio Hour