In partnership with Identification of Music's (IOM) new podcast IOM Recommends, each week we'll be giving you a travel guide that you can't pick up at your local bookshop — as your favourite artists give us the lowdown on their hometowns.
This week we're being shown around Agadez, Niger by Michael "Mikey" Coltun, bass guitarist, electronic musician and vocalist — who performs as part of the Tuareg rock band Mdou Moctar. Having grown up in Washington DC, Mikey's passion for the music of West Africa began with his father's record collection — particularly Sublime Frequencies 'Guitars from Agadez'. After aiding Mdou Moctar's first-ever US show in 2017 as a tour manager, Mikey was informed he would be on bass duty — following the tour, Mikey followed the Moctar back to Agadez. Since then he's played over 500 shows with the outfit all over the world.
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So we can really get the inside track on Agadez, we asked Mikey to give us some tips on what we should do in his city — from crashing Tuareg weddings to secret Saharan generator parties.
Where's the best place to head on a Friday night?
Wander into a Tuareg wedding — which are open to the public.
Where should we go to buy some records?
Music is traded on mobile phones via Whatsapp. There’s a cassette shop in Mali but otherwise record stores don’t really exist in West Africa.
Where should we catch a bite to eat?
Food is eaten at home with family and friends, all sharing from a big communal plate.
A place that tourists don't know about?
Secret Desert generator soirees.
Somewhere to get lost?
Take a guitar and a picnic out into the desert with some friends in the evening.
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What musicians should we check out?
What's the best way to see Agadez?
Don’t book a hotel. Start a conversation with somebody. Everyone wants to be your friend.
What's an Agadez party we should check out?
A Tuareg wedding.
What time of year should we visit?
December to February.
Can you give us a piece of advice for anyone new to your city?
Have an open mind, and ditch the western tourism model.
Sum up your city in five words?
Beautiful, Gritty, Loud, Open, Comforting.
You can listen to the first episode of IOM Recommends featuring Mikey Coltun below.
Megan Townsend is Mixmag's Deputy Digital Editor, follow her on Twitter