The way Mamady Sidibi sees it, Galveston is the ultimate tribal village.
“There’s a lot of different people in Galveston,” he said “That’s why I like the island because it’s like a tribal community. There’s a lot of different music here, and that makes me feel good in Galveston.”
Mamady landed in Galveston in 2002, at the urging of none other than Billy Gibbons, lead vocalist, and guitarist with iconic Texas rock band ZZ Top.
“Billy is my uncle’s best friend,” he said. “We used to go out and eat, and he told me, ‘Mamady, if you want to open a gallery you’ve got to come to Galveston.’" I told him that I don’t know anybody Galveston. Gibbons said, "It’s a little town, but a beautiful city with a lot of antiques.”
For years, Mamady learned the ropes of running a business from his uncle and took Gibbon’s advice to open his own store in Galveston, Mamady’s Primitive Art From Africa at 2211 Strand. The store, located in Old Galveston Square, specializes in one-of-a-kind authentic art from the Mother Land.
Mamady is a native of Conakry, Guinea, in West Africa.
Mamady’s love for art also extends to music, especially Djembe, colloquially referred to as the “drum circle.” Every Friday at 9 p.m., Mamady and his drummer friends converge on Jimmy’s on the Pier, 9001 Seawall Blvd., for Galveston Djembe.
“Rhythm is very important because I’m from The Country – Guinea – and we play a lot of music,” he said. “My friend, Nick, played drums here. He heard me play and said, 'You’ve got good rhythm.'"
“No, I didn’t come here to play drums,” Sidibi said. His friend, Nick, followed with some words of encouragement saying, “It’s good, and people will get to know you a lot.”
For over 20 years, Galveston Djembe has been a local institution, attracting drummers from far and wide.
If you get to meet Mamady, you’re in for a treat. He’s one of the coolest and warmest human beings that I’ve had the privilege to know. Stop by Jimmy’s on the Pier or Mamady’s Primitive Art From Africa, and see for yourself. You will be comfortably in the groove.