As my friend and I were driving to Sidi Toure’s show last evening in Millheim, PA we were more than a little wary about what to expect. A small town in Central Pennsylvania, the borough of Millheim has but 904 people and lies in fairly conservative part of this nation. So the prospect of seeing Sidi Toure and his nomadic Malian band play in a small cafe in this small town was, interesting. Arriving was a spectacle in itself, after driving through countless miles of farmland we enter Millheim and easily spot the Elk Creek Cafe. It’s packed, and the door says tickets are sold out. We are seated at the front with the tour manager and can look out at the crowd of about 60. In full, traditional Songhai attire, Sidi Toure and his band seemed as out of place as the Jamaican bobsled team in Calgary for the Winter Olympics. Their music is enchanting, Sidi’s latest album “Koima” alludes to a sacred, well-known pink-colored dune that attracts the world’s most powerful wizards and the music is made to reflect that mysticism. The crowd could feel it too, as everyone was grooving to the rhythms and several folks joined the band in dancing. Their music draws obvious comparisons to southern roots blues music, which, as Sidi points out, makes sense seeing as the beats that inspired blues originally came from West Africa. Throughout the show, Sidi stressed the Songhai culture that created this music and his hope to inform the world of their heritage. Though completely out of place in this small town, Sidi and his band seemed right at home and as happy as can be. It was a perfect reminder of why I love music, though no one in the room could understand them and probably less than half could even point out Mali on a map, everyone was able to connect to Sidi Toure and his band through the music and his peace-loving message. Enjoy this live video of Sidi Toure and his band performing “Mali Song”.