Let us introduce you to Bokanté, a modern-day blues band dreamed up by Snarky Puppy’s Michael League. The group’s name means “exchange” in Creole, the native language of Guadeloupe. This French colony in the Caribbean is home to Malika Tirolien, the singer and co-songwriter in the band, who currently resides in Montreal. Hear her on a new Bokanté single, “O La,” which has its premiere here.
After League discovered Tirolien on tour, he decided to surround her with a group of international musicians, many already in Snarky Puppy’s GroundUP label family. The group includes no fewer than three guitarists: Chris McQueen, Bob Lanzetti and Roosevelt Collier. (Collier players lap and pedal steel; League, usually a bassist, also plays baritone guitar in the band.) Also on board are percussionists Jamey Haddad, Keita Ogawa and André Ferrari.
With its debut album, Strange Circles, due out on June 9, Bokanté takes on many of today’s complex social problems — colonization, religious extremism, immigration — with the sound of blues from Mississippi to Senegal. Tirolien will talk about the album on an upcoming edition of The Checkout podcast.