Mali Blues 

featuring Tani Diakite of Wassalou, Mali


Energetic African desert blues music - like a blending of Howlin' Wolf, Ali Farka Toure, John Lee Hooker.

genre: Malian, African, Jam Band


Organic Mali Blues led by gamelon ngoni master Tani Diakite (Wassalou, Mali) and bassist KT Rusch (Milwaukee)


  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 3/21/12 "Mali Blues Collaborators say band is best heard live":  Review & Videos here

NEW CD:  MALI BLUES LIVE 2012   Shepherd Express Review

Download at Bandcamp

       1st CD Download at   

Mali Blues collaborators say band is best heard live... 

"Milwaukee bassist Kathryn "KT" Rusch and longtime collaborator, Mali native Tani Diakite, met in 2005 at a Ko-Thi dance performance at Alverno College. Diakite was performing while Rusch watched, enchanted by what she described as the "hauntingly melodic" sound of a West African stringed instrument Diakite was playing known as the gamelan ngoni.

"I was mesmerized, and all I could hear were bass lines supporting the tones," Rusch said. "I don't remember the rest of the dance performance. All I knew was that I would find and meet this man."

Rusch eventually tracked down the mysterious musician and set up a meeting with Diakite at his home in Madison. The two hit it off from the beginning, and within a couple of months had booked their first gig at Riverwest Caribbean hot spot, Club Timbuktu.''

"I think live is the very best way to capture the essence of this group," she said."   read the rest here.


"Mali Blues  rootsy, danceable groove earns the Milwaukee band most of its accolades.   but the also about producing good vibes."  Shepherd Express


"Mali Blues: Live from Madison and Milwaukee -  Imagine that  one of the intersections of Western African and Western rock music happens right here in Wisconsin!   Mali Blues Group brings together folks like Tani Diakite who hails from Mali, a land-locked African nation bordering both Senegal and the Sahara desert, and folks from Wisconsin like KT Rusch.  Together they forge an interesting sound  that is tight and raucous like a good drum circle should be, yet explores the interplay between traditional gourd and skin instruments like the djembe and the kamelon ngoni and the electric bass.  The combination may be more natural than it seems on the surface, as most instrumentation we take for granted as 'rock' had its roots in the traditions of African music.  This live CD was recorded in both Madison and Milwaukee and for live sound it is well miked and the sound quality is amazing.  For a group with "blues" in the title, I found the tracks to be bouncy, uplifting, and even without being familiar with the language in the vocals, I felt like vocalizing along with them."       Nerve House   Fall 2006


Traditional, hand-made West African instruments, potent electric bass-lines, and original songs create the sound.  This page represents Milwaukee based Mali Blues.  Featuring 7-piece band:  Djam Vivie (Ghana) Percussion. with  Yaya Kambaye (Senegal) on Djembe, and Deon Sartin (Milwaukee) Guitar, Tim Gruber (Madison) Drum Set , Carl Nichols (Milwaukee) Guitar.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online Jan 2012  


Tani Diakite

Tani Diakite is a Malian singer and professional kamelon ngoni virtuoso. He is a member of the highly prestigious Bureau of Malian Artists, an honor given by the Malian Ministry of Culture.  Tani also performs as a solo artist. 

Born and raised in the bluesy Wassoulou region of southern Mali, he currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin.

KT Rusch

The first two recordings she was able to purchase as a youth in Milwaukee were:  Elmore James: King of Slide Guitar and Bob Marley Live.  See All About KT for more info.

Djam Vivie

Djam is from a village near the town of Oh in southern Ghana.  He is a master woodcarver, drum maker and founder of African Arts and Cultural Heritage (phone 608-446-1019) in Madison, WI. He also plays with Madison group Atimevu.

Master Vivie has been carving, building and playing drums for nearly three decades. Drum making runs through his family, both on the maternal and paternal sides. It is a way of life for his clan, who for centuries. has been making drums and stools for legendary Ghanaian Kings and local authorities. He believes that happiness is a curative power derived from the rhythms of drums. He currently resides in Madsion, Wisconsin.

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Fete de Marquette Madison, WI Club Timbuktu Milwaukee
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Summerfest - World's Largest Music festival Africa Fest  Madison, WI
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Southern Oaks Correctional School Workshop Racine, WI

With Amadou and Marium - Mali World Music Ambassadors at Summerfest

The far reaches of the Sahara have nurtured some fantastic music in recent years. Often suggesting a convergence of John Lee Hooker and West Africa, those sounds have been lovingly transplanted to Wisconsin by the Madison-Milwaukee band Mali Blues. Their live CD, recorded earlier this year at Club Garibaldi, captures the hypnotic pulse of this ancient-modern music in the syncopated snap of strings, simmering low burn electric guitars and primal, propulsive rhythms. Nothing except the English language “thank you for coming out” between songs reveals that this session wasn’t recorded somewhere near Timbuktu.

Shepherd Express Nov 2012


We are available for educational workshops featuring making and playing traditional instruments as well as other aspects of African arts and culture.



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