It would be somewhat of a disservice to Vieux Farka Toure to call him the Jimi Hendrix of Malian music. Though he's definitely an innovator and an amazing player–sometimes given to playing behind his back, as Hendrix did–and has updated African music much like Jimi gave the blues a psychedelic facelift, Toure belongs in his own box. The last time he played the Independent, he held the crowd in rapture for the length of his set, with entrancing electrified takes on a traditional sound which dates back for centuries, if not millennia.
You can catch Vieux twice in two days this week, first at the free Power to the Peaceful concert Saturday in Golden Gate Park (also featuring Michael Franti, Alanis Morrissette, Sly & Robbie and others), and Sunday at the Independent (again). In the meantime, check out this MP3 of Toure performing “Ai Haira” live.