Thursday, March 18, 2010

Album Review: Rise and Shine-Sierra Leone's Refugee All-Stars

Rise and Shine, the new album from Sierra Leone’s Refugee All-Stars out March 23rd on Cumbancha Records, is a celebration of life, music, and overcoming adversity. Recorded both in Freetown, Sierra Leone and New Orleans, Louisiana, a multitude of styles and sounds are blended in thirteen tracks that tap into a sincere commonality and diversity at the same time.

New Orleans style horns contribute to an already interesting mix of reggae and Sierra Leonie traditional songs. All three styles have common roots, fostering a globalized fusion of sounds that take on the identity of the well-traveled musicians. Serving as the cultural ambassadors of Sierra Leone, The All-Stars have toured the world several times and are about to embark on a US tour in support of their new album.

It’s a perfect match both musically as well as philosophically for The All-Stars to team up with some of New Orleans best horn players. Both groups of musicians have dealt with losing their homes and overcoming incredible adversity. That resiliency is apparent throughout the album. A range of emotions is on display from song to song, in true New Orleans fashion, expressing a melancholy downtrodden vibe on songs like Bend Down the Corner and Dununya but then turning around with upbeat tracks like Tamagbondorsu and Jah Come Down.

Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars ability to use their harrowing experiences as inspiration for truly beautiful music is a powerful message to the rest of the world. What I love the most about this album is the happy, upbeat mood they convey while still managing to include the other end of the spectrum. The All-Stars Represent how contemporary African musicians are synthesizing different influences, both modern and traditional, to create a new original sound.

As I said before, they’re touring the US to promote their new album. Definitely check them out and see what they’re all about. US Tour Dates:

April 7 Burlington, VT Higher Ground

April 10 Woodstock, VT Woodstock Town Hall Theatre

April 11 Allston, MA Harper’s Ferry

April 12 Philadelphia, PA World Café Live

April 14 New York, NY Highline Ballroom

April 16 Vail, CO Downtown Vail, Outdoor Stage Spring Back to Vail

April 17 Dallas, TX Granada Theater

April 18 Austin, TX Auditorium Shores Austin Reggae Festival

April 20 Austin, TX Flamingo Cantina

April 21 Little Rock, AR Revolution Music Room

April 22 Memphis, TN Hi Tone Cafe

April 23 Nashville, TN Alumni Lawn, Vanderbilt University

April 24 New Orleans, LA House of Blues – The Parish

April 25 Lafayette, LA Jefferson Street Stage Festival International de Louisiane

April 27 Atlanta, GA Smith’s Olde Bar

May 2 New Orleans, LA New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

May 5 Santa Fe, NM Santa Fe Brewing Company

May 6 Flagstaff, AZ The Green Room

May 7 Tucson, AZ Rialto Theater

May 8 Phoenix, AZ Musical Instrument Museum Music Theater

May 9 Phoenix, AZ Musical Instrument Museum Music Theater

May 11 Solana Beach, CA Belly Up

May 12 West Hollywood, CA The Roxy

May 14 Santa Cruz, CA Moe’s Alley

May 15 San Francisco, CA The Independent

May 18 Bend, OR Tower Theater

May 19 Seattle, WA Triple Door

May 20 Portland, OR Berbati’s Pan

May 22 Salt Lake City, UT Washington Square Living Traditions Festival

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