Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars share message of love

Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars share message of love

Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars share message of love

Dale Johnson

Rueben Koroma casually smoked a cigarette outside of DG’s Taphouse, speaking with a couple of women who would soon witness his music, spreading the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars’ message of love and experiences living in a war torn country.

The other members of the band walked around Main Street sporting caps bearing the colors of their home continent of Africa, playing ukeleles and tambourines.

Koroma and the rest of the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars kicked off the first event of the Maximum Ames Music Festival playing a show at DG’s Taphouse as part of their US tour.

They brought with them a taste of African music and their trials and triumphs living in Sierra Leone, where the Special Court war crimes trials are wrapping up after years of civil war.

“We look forward to bringing sweet dance music from Africa to Ames,” Koroma said before the concert. “We want to meet the people and give our best performance.”

Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars, a band comprised of members who lived through the civil war in their home country, were asked to come to play in Ames by Maximum Ames Music Festival co-founders Nate Logsdon and Chris Lyng.

Lyng said Maximum Ames and the Refugee All Stars worked together to make the event happen when the band’s touring schedule prevented them from participating in the festival.

“It’s a different type of music that we don’t get in Ames often,” Lyng said. “We have a lot of rock bands and things like that, but the world music genre, we want to bring that to Ames.”

Logsdon added that the show provided an opportunity to not only experience music, but encounter modern African history.

Clayton Severson started the show with his distinctive mix of slap and flamenco influenced guitar, playing original songs as well as covers. The audience slowly grew throughout his set around the dance floor.

Koroma returned from his cigarette and joined his band mates while Severson finished up his set.

The Refugee All Stars soon took the stage and the dance floor filled with the first note.

“The warlord Charles Taylor is tried and sentenced to 50 years in prison,” Koroma said, who then wore a black and white striped dashiki and kufi.

Koroma stated that the band is a voice for their country and will always spread their message, despite the war being over and Special Court sessions wrapping up.

The band immediately proceeded with its music comprised of reggae and traditional influences inspired by the radio they listened to in Sierra Leone during and after the civil war.

“The radio is a powerful thing,” Koroma said. “It connects us and gives us the music we all enjoy.”

Attendees followed the lead of Refugee All Stars member Black Nature in the dancing that carried on throughout the night.

“What is one word for why we live,” Koroma asked the audience.

“Love,” an attendee said.

“Love is what brought us all the way from Africa to play music here,” Koroma said.

Guitarist Ashade Pearce played guitar licks along with bass and drum rhythms that led the sweaty attendees to bump elbows while dancing in the hot room with out care.

Logsdon said that he looked forward to seeing the community embrace and respect the Refugee All Stars.

Later in the show Koroma led the Refugee All Stars in chanting “We love Ames, We love Ames,” after the attendees relentlessly danced and sang with the band throughout the night.

The Refugee All Stars tour takes them to larger venues and festivals, but Koroma said that their performance was not affected because they will entertain good people, no matter the number.

The band then signed copies of their new album Radio Salone and spoke with attendees after they finished playing. Nearly everyone in DG’s wore a smile, despite the uncomfortable heat and cramped space.

“They were all about love and community and just clicked with us here in Ames,” Logsdon said. “That’s what really made them phenomenal.”