The Rail Band goes by many names -- Super Rail Band, Rail Band International, Rail Band du Buffet Hotel de al Gare -- but by whatever name they are called, they are loved by Malians for their vibrantly eclectic musical projects. Founded in 1969 by virtuoso ngoni player Tidiane Kone, the Rail Band play an appealing mix of traditional Manding and Bambara music, Latin dance music, and American rock. Their lyrics follow the traditional praisesong model, but embrace modern pop motifs. Like many bands in Mali, the Rail Band survives through the musical patronage system: in this case the Malian railroad system. The lineup of the band has changed much since its formation and has seen some of Mali's leading performers pass through its ranks, but it still performs outdoors every Saturday at the unpretentious cafe-bar in Bamako a devoted local audience.
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