Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars Return to Woodstock VT #landaya #RefugeeAllStars #WoodstockVT #VT


February 20, 2015
Woodstock VT

For the past 17 years Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars' joyful music has contradicted the horrors they witnessed during their country's civil war. The guitar-driven group came together in Guinean refugee camps in the late 1990s and has gone on to perform on international stages and collaborate with many rock stars including Aerosmith, Dispatch and Ziggy Marley. They opened for Jimmy Cliff in 2010 at Pentangle's Suicide Six Summer Concert.

Now its members face a different plight. Since the spring of 2014, the Refugee All Stars have been living in American exile because of the Ebola epidemic. "Around July, the media started talking about it and we were receiving calls from Sierra Leone about how dreadful it is" said Reuben Koroma. So the group began raising money to support for relief efforts (including a new Ebola-educational TV channel called WeOwnTV) and sending more money to their families in the country.

They returned to Woodstock Friday night and joined guest performer, Sayon Camara, Woodstock resident and West African native, to shine a light on the Ebola crisis and delivered an exhilarating performance. 

Sayon Camara & the Landaya Ensemble opened the show with some wild drumming.




"When we visited this town for the first time, we were privileged to play with Joe Perry (part time Woodstock resident and guitarist for the band Aerosmith) and Joe Perry gave us some gifts, the lead guitar was donated to us by Joe Perry. And so this town is very connected to the guys on stage, are you happy? We are so happy to be here. And we're gonna play you good music tonight, trust me" Koroma told the audience.
Guitarist Ashade Pearce whispered in Koroma's ear and Koroma announced "At one time we were given the keys of the town. And yes, we still have those keys. Yes, we have to remember that, that was something very, very amazing for us, because that was the beginning, that was the time we started visiting the United States of America...Thank you all."

The band played for seventy five minutes with no encore. The audience was up and dancing most of the time. At one point Koroma mentioned the t-shirts the band member were wearing. "It says 'Fight this Ebola Out of Africa'; its a t-shirt that we created to raise some money to be able to support our families back home. So, if you want to be a party to help in this vision just grab one t-shirt. That's the way you can help the guys on stage. OK?"

"As long as we are together and play music together, it gives us warmth, more confidence and hope that we will come out of this situation," Koroma says. "We came out of the war, and so we know that we will prevail over Ebola."





with special guests Sayon Camara & the Landaya Ensemble
Woodstock Town Hall Theatre
WoodstockVT February 20, 2015
Copyright ©2015Nancy Nutile-McMenemy