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Debademba at the Hotel de Ville

July 18, 2013

PARIS – In 30 years living in Paris I never set foot inside the Hotel de Ville until last night. At the invitation of a friend, who is a friend of one of the band members, I went to see the African band Debademba in the great salon of the Hotel de Ville. The band was giving a concert to celebrate Ramadan.

The inside of the Hotel de Ville, in fact, is well worth a visit. It is massive and ornate and just…extraordinary. I have done no research on it, so I will leave this blog description as silly and basic as that.

There were hundreds and maybe even more than a thousand people present in the vast room for the music, which started with a maghreb band walking around playing drums and some kind of screeching horn. I did a bit of research on that, and thought it was something like a bombarde, often used in Brittany, but I could not really name it accurately.

But Debademba were just fabulous. The guitar player, Abdoulaye Traoré, is really strong, and the vocalist – who sings the guitar player’s compositions – had an amazing high-pitched, almost feminine voice. The music was a mixture of everything, with a strong overtone frequently of jazz fusion.

I had never heard any African music in concert that was like this, and it was very strong. The band was particularly good at understanding an audience, too, as just about every song was different, had a different tempo, mood, melody.

Check them out!


  1. What a wonderful, cool event — and what an extraordinary venue. So glad you were able to finally see the HDV, Brad. I had the privilege of touring it a couple of years ago during the Journées du Patrimoine and was blown away by the opulence and beauty of even the tiniest architectural details. It’s been fun to revisit the place in a totally different context. Merci !

  2. I don’t know whether the photos are great, but they do bring back some great memories:
    Your videos are much more vibrant, though. It looks like a wonderful evening!

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