Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars:
“It’s been a long struggle out of the war, out of miserable conditions,” notes Koroma, “We try to bring out sensitive issues that are affecting the world. It is all of our responsibility that the masses are suffering. We bring our positive messages into the world so we can expect a positive change in the world. And, most importantly, bring about peace.”
Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars have risen like a phoenix out of the ashes of war and enflamed the passions of fans across the globe with their uplifting songs of hope, faith and joy. The band is a potent example of the redeeming power of music and the ability of the human spirit to persevere through unimaginable hardship and emerge with optimism intact. From their humble beginnings in West African refugee camps Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars have performed on some of the world’s most prestigious stages and matured into one of Africa’s top touring and recording bands.
Throughout the 1990s, the West African country of Sierra Leone was wracked with a bloody, horrifying war that forced millions to flee their homes. The musicians that would eventually form Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars are all originally from Freetown, and they were forced to leave the capital city at various times after violent rebel attacks. Most of those that left the country made their way into neighboring Guinea, some ending up in refugee camps and others struggling to fend for themselves in the capital city of Conakry.
Ruben Koroma and his wife Grace had left Sierra Leone in 1997 and found themselves in the Kalia refugee camp near the border with Sierra Leone. When it became clear they would not be heading back to their homeland anytime soon, they joined up with guitarist Francis John Langba (aka Franco), and bassist Idrissa Bangura (aka Mallam), other musicians in the camp whom they had known before the war, to entertain their fellow refugees. After a Canadian relief agency donated two beat up electric guitars, a single microphone and a meager sound system, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars were born.
American filmmakers Zach Niles and Banker White encountered the band in the Sembakounya Camp, and were so inspired by their story they ended up following them for three years as they moved from camp to camp, bringing much needed joy to fellow refugees with their heartfelt performances. Eventually, the war in Sierra Leone came to an end, and over time the All Stars returned to Freetown, where they met other returning musicians who joined the band’s rotating membership. It was there in the tin-roofed shacks of Freetown’s ghettos that Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars recorded the tracks that ended up, along with unplugged recordings made in the refugee camps, being the basis for their debut album, Living Like a Refugee, which was released on the label Anti in 2006.
The resulting film that documented this moving saga, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, was a critical success, and introduced the world to the personalities and dramatic stories behind the band, not to mention their instantly appealing music. “As harrowing as these personal tales may be,” wrote The New York Times, “the music buoying them is uplifting.” Newsweek raved, “It’s as easy to fall in love with these guys as it was with the Buena Vista Social Club.”
The movie, album and eventual U.S. tours helped expand their following, and soon the band found itself playing in front of enraptured audiences of tens of thousands at New York’s Central Park SummerStage, Japan’s Fuji Rock Festival and the revered Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. They appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, contributed a song to the Blood Diamond film soundtrack, participated in the U2 tribute album In the Name of Love: Africa Celebrates U2, and earned praise and backing from Sir Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Ice Cube, Angelina Jolie and others inspired by their life-affirming story and captivating music. In one of the most surreal moments of their climb to fame, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars opened for Aerosmith at the 12,000-capacity Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
to read more: http://www.cumbancha.com/files/artist_pdfs_general/SLRAS_Biography_2014.pdf
Wait for Green:
Wait for Green was formed in 2006 at Florida State University by
original founding members Drew Dockerill (Lead Vocals/ Guitar) and AJ
Larson (Bass). The band would combine funk, reggae, jazz, and
alternative rock to create the signature Wait For Green sound. After
playing numerous shows in the college town of Tallahassee, FL the band
started to garner the attention of the 40,000 plus student population
in the area, and in 2009 played sold out shows with Slightly Stoopid,
Reel Big Fish, and The Wailers. Later that year the band was asked to
play Sunfest held in West Palm Beach, FL along with an all-star lineup
including 311, Slightly Stoopid,UB40, Pepper, Pennywise, Citizen Cope,
G. Love, and many more. Just before their move to California the band
would play their first international show in Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica
headlining the ISA Billabong World Surfing Games.
In late 2009 Wait for Green made the move to Los Angeles, CA. Within
the first months of their move the band was already playing some of
the most well known LA venues such as The Roxy, El Rey, The Key Club,
Viper Room, and Whisky A Go Go. While living in LA the band acquired
Will Hopkins (Drums) who was studying at Musicians Institute. In early
2011 Wait for Green’s song “Day One” was featured on the NBC show
“Chase”, making it their first major network placement. Wait for Green
went into the studio to record their second full length album with
producer Matt Laplant (Skindred, Fiction Plane) in the summer of 2011.
The album combines their best work written after their move to
California. The album drops November 22nd on the group’s label Go For
Broke Records. The band plays with two additional live musicians James
Kirby (Guitar) and Jared Morelli (Keys, Programming).