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Global Sounds on the Hill: Baba Commandant and the Mandingo Band in Concert

Thursday, October 12, 2023 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm


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Curated and hosted by iconic DC impresario and musician Jim Thomson.

This engagement is made possible through the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation with support from the National Endowment for the Arts. 

The concert will be preceded by a conversation with the artists moderated by noted folklorist Lisa Gilman, Professor of Folklore, George Mason University.


Baba Commandant and the Mandingo Band are a contemporary world music group from Burkina Faso. Coming from the city of Bobo-Diulasso, the group is rooted in the Manding musical traditions of their ancestral legacy.

The enigmatic lead singer Baba Commandant (Mamadou Sanou) is an original and eccentric character who is well respected in Burkina Faso’s musical community. An activist for traditional Manding music, Baba continues to redefine the boundaries between traditional and modern. In 1981, he joined the Koule Dafourou troupe as a dancer. Later, he developed his current musical direction as a singer, first in Dounia and then in the Afromandingo Band. Baba Commandant’s current band — when he’s not playing with the now-famous Burkinabé musician Victor Démé — is the Mandingo Band. At present, he is a practitioner of Manding roots music in combination with the Afrobeat style, drawing inspiration from the golden era of Nigerian music. Indeed,  Fela Kuti/Africa 70  and King Sunny Adé are big influences, as is the legendary Malian growler Moussa Doumbia. Baba Commandant plays the ngoni, the instrument of the Donso (the traditional hunters in this region of Burkina Faso and Mali).

About Lisa Gilman: Gilman is a Professor of Folklore at George Mason University. She was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and has been doing research on music, dance, gender, and politics in southern Africa since the mid 1990s. She has written and edited several books and numerous articles on topics related to folklore, music, dance, and/or African Studies. She is currently working on a project on refugees and the arts from a global perspective.  She runs George Mason’s folklore program and teaches classes on topics related to folklore, African studies, gender/sexuality, and ethnographic research methods. Full biographical details here:  https://english.gmu.edu/people/lgilman3

About Jim Thomson: Jim Thomson owns and operates the Washington, DC-based boutique record label Electric Cowbell Records. He currently runs Multiflora Productions out of Washington, DC, an independent live music production agency that specializes in expanding the reach of eclectic traditional and non-traditional artists by creating a time and space where their work is presented in an environment where audiences and artists alike have a meaningful and significant experience together. In 2014 he became the music coordinator for the Capital Fringe Festival and also programmed the “Fringe Music in the Library ” series, which offered free live music in the DC Public Libraries through a sponsorship from the DC Public Library Foundation. He has booked several US tours for acclaimed artists such as Sahel Sounds recording artists Mdou Moctar and Les Filles de Illighadad, along with Zedashe from the Republic of Georgia, BCUC from South Africa, and several others. He is a founding member and played drums in: GWAR, Alter-Natives (SST Records), Bio Ritmo, and CSC Funk Band. He currently plays drums in the DC-based punk rock band, Time Is Fire. Jim is currently producing a series of releases for the acclaimed indie salsa orchestra Bio Ritmo’s 30-year anniversary and booking the US debut tour for Sublime Frequencies recording artist Baba Commandant from Burkina Faso.

Beer, wine, and other concessions will be available for purchase!

If you need assistance registering, please check out these step-by-step instructionsvideo tutorial or call (202) 549-4172 for assistance.

Hill Center is dedicated to making our programming equitable and accessible to all. If cost, accessibility, or other obstacles are a barrier to attending a program, please contact programs@hillcenterdc.org and we will be happy to work out a solution.


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Thursday, October 12, 2023
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
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921 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20003 United States
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