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26

WEDNESDAY

“First there was Hendrix, then Stevie Ray, and now Habib.” Or at least that’s what Bonnie Raitt and Joan Baez think of Malian singer-guitarist Habib Koité, who, with band Bamada, creates stirring African pop. Koité, who prefers acoustic, casually picks out harplike patterns and seamlessly melds countless ethnic Malian techniques with jangly folk-rock and Latin elements. His fast-fingered but excess-free fretwork is accompanied by quietly soulful vocals, the captivating pings of a balafon, and the subtle but insistent rhythmic bottom of electric bass and traditional percussion. Though a few cuts on his latest effort, Baro, are a little too precious, others, such as “Kanawa,” achieve a successful balance of soothing and edgy. Koité and Bamada will perform at 6 and 8:30 p.m. at the National Geographic Society’s Grosvenor Auditorium, 1600 M St. NW. $25. (202) 857-7700. (Steve Kiviat)