Lo’Jo just might be the most famous band you’ve never heard of. With a storied, 30+ year career that includes fifteen albums, the founding of Mali’s legendary Festival In The Desert, the discovery of Tinariwen, and a penchant for nomadic touring that has taken them to corners of that globe that most bands have never heard of, this French sextet’s story is the stuff of legend.
Lo’Jo was founded in 1982, in a small village just outside Angers, France, by poet Denis Péan and violinist Richard Bourreau, who envisioned the first iteration of the group as a freewheeling artists’ collective that also included dancers and street performers. Today, the duo are still at the heart of the group, keeping its freewheeling sprit alive after years of shifting lineups and personnel changes. Lo’Jo’s current incarnation includes bassist Kham Meslien, drummer Baptiste Brondy, and sisters Yamina and Nadia Nid El Mourid on vocals.
It’s not easy to describe Lo’Jo’s polyglot sound, which has evolved along with their lineup. Since their recording debut in 1993, the group and its various members have been called everything from a “Gallic Tom Waits” and a “Berber B-52s” to “France’s answer to the Mekons”, but none of those comparisons quite captures the unique sound and spirit of this shapeshifitng band of musical nomads.
Lo’Jo ’s music has always been firmly rooted in a distinctly French terroir, where classic chansons mingle with the sounds of carnival, the sensibility of cinema and the meter of poetry. At the same time, the group has always been open to sounds from much farther afield — with a special affinity for the music of North and West Africa — and Lo’Jo have been making pioneering cross-cultural experiments with “world music” before the genre even had a name.
Lo’Jo’s travels are almost mythical: from Caucuses to the Indian Ocean to the Atlas Mountains to Istanbul, Timbuktu and Cotonou and beyond, Lo’Jo have followed their ears across the globe, and recorded with some amazing collaborators along the way, including Robert Plant, Tinariwen, Justin Adams, René Lacaille, Vincent Segal, and more.
Their most recent album, 2012’s Cinema el mundo saw them team up with Tinariwen’s Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, Soft Machine founder Robert Wyatt and Mauritian singer/percussionist Menwar to record a joyful, cinematic celebration of life.
Now, in 2016, Lo’Jo returns to North American stages for a seven-date, five-city Spring tour of the U.S. and Canada. Lo’Jo will be touring in advance of their next album, [FONETIK] Flowers slated for release in 2017. Don’t miss a rare chance to catch this very special band on this side of the Atlantic!