By Jim Thomson
Jim Thomson, founder of Multiflora music production company, is helping put DC – and Nomadico – on the map of genre-bending global music. Jim is instrumental in bringing Mdou Moctar’s hypnotic desert guitar sound from Niger to Nomadico’s stage. You can also find Jim spinning vinyl under the Bayt as part of Analog Soul Club.
I am honored to have a hand in the live music programming at Nomadico Festival 2018. I first heard Mdou Moctar’s music on a compilation record called Music For Saharan Cellphones, then a few years later in the Tuareg-language film Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red In It (a Saharan remake of Prince’s Purple Rain). There was something sublime about it that immediately grabbed my attention. I was also a big fan of Sahel Sounds, Christopher Kirkley’s DIY record label, which started as a blog but has grown into a platform for global artists like Mdou to reach wider audiences. So it was a no-brainer when Christopher called me two years ago to collaborate on bringing Mdou Moctar and his band over for their first US tour.
Nomadico will mark the last date on Mdou’s second tour this year, which makes it extra special – a bit of the Azawagh desert of Niger under the tents and stars of the Shenandoah Valley.
This type of cultural intersection is why I started Multiflora Productions five years ago, as a platform for presenting multicultural, international, genre-bending, and trend-defiant original live music in the nation’s capital.
I’m on the lookout for opportunities where I can put the right music on the right stage at the right time in hopes that something magical happens between the artists and the audience.
With a sprawling metropolitan area that holds more than 6 million people, DC was surprisingly lacking in music programming that reflected its storied multicultural and international flavor. I’m still surprised by how often booking agents contact me because they can’t get any of the city’s many live music venues to book emerging and well-known touring global acts.
There is an important ongoing conversation we as a community need to have about gentrification, immigration, and cultural curation and their effect on the arts and entertainment world. But as a floating production company, I’m just on the lookout for those opportunities where I can put the right music on the right stage at the right time in hopes that something magical happens between the artists and the audience.
My personal journey with music has wound through its own landscape of shifting sands. In my youth, my relationship with music was defined by an obsession with pop and subculture. As I drifted away from the superficiality of trends, I became interested in music and art as universal movements for revolution and resistance. I’ve found that music can be a profound unifying social force. One of the great joys of my work is witnessing the sublime phenomenon of music bringing a moment of ecstatic bliss and creating a deeper connection to a roomful of people.
Multiflora Productions grew organically from my experience managing artists and releasing music through my label Electric Cowbell Records. As I started booking shows for global acts in DC, my network grew exponentially. Soon I was booking entire US tours for groups from Bulgaria, Georgia, and Niger, and learning about artists visas and the challenges foreign artists face in coming to the US to work. While it can be a frustrating and anxiety-ridden experience, the rewards ultimately give me a sense of deeper fulfillment and gratitude.
Born in Alexandria VA, Jim Thomson grew up on a small apple orchard outside Front Royal, Virginia. He owns and operates the DC-based boutique label Electric Cowbell Records, and runs Multiflora Productions, a music production agency that specializes in expanding the reach of genre-bending roots-to-the-future music through artist management, event marketing, tour booking, and music releases. Together with Meso Creso resident DJ Mettabbana, Jim Thomson (as Crown Vic) forms one-half of Analog Soul Club, a global groove vinyl DJ collective.