Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars
Black Nature Band, Naia Kete
Sun, August 5, 2012
Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:00 pmThe Independent
Tickets Available at the Door
This event is 21 and overhttp://www.theindependentsf.com/event/118345/
Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars
The globally acclaimed Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars return with their third studio album, Radio Salone, out April 24, 2012, on CD and limited-edition 2LP vinyl via Cumbancha. Produced by roots reggae, soul and Afrobeat guru Victor Axelrod, aka Ticklah, (Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings, Amy Winehouse, Easy Star All Stars, Antibalas) and recorded in Brooklyn's Dunham Studios, Radio Salone marks the band's most musically sophisticated collection of songs to date. The album is the follow-up to the band's 2010 album Rise & Shine, which was the #1 album of the year on the World Music Charts Europe.
Out of dark times, Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars have always made music rife with hopeful messages and joyful rhythms. Radio Salone is no different, but this time it feels like a milestone album for the group. When they stepped into the studio for the Radio Salone sessions, they began laying down tracks with a definitive vintage African vibe, connecting traditional West African sounds with roots reggae in ways that they had never before explored. Employing analog technology, the band used mid-70s era microphones and 16-track tapes. With the limited takes that tape imposes on the recording process, there was often just one chance to create perfection. But perfection to this band means embracing unplanned nuances, allowing the visceral qualities of music to shine, letting the process play out in real time. The mics don't shut off between the album's tracks - an invitation to the listener to join the band on their creative journey.
Having persevered through the horrors of the Sierra Leonean civil war, band leader Reuben Koroma and the group continue to musically evolve in exciting ways, well past their jam sessions in the Guinean refugee camps and the rawness of their first recordings in their native capital of Freetown. The songs are infused with intricate dub elements not found in their earlier material and interludes are featured as part of the album flow for the first time. From the hollow echoes of the congoma (also known as the marimba - a percussion instrument with wooden keys and resonators) in album opener "Chant It Down" to the bubbling rhythm of lead single "Mother In Law" to the irresistible hook of "Big Fat Dog," there are thrilling discoveries around every corner. While the band initially gained fame through the power of their story and message, Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars have since become one of Africa's most active touring bands, and the years of experience are reflected in the virtuosity of their performance on Radio Salone.
The album title references "Salone" - meaning "Sierra Leone" in the native language of Krio - in which the band sings (along with five other languages) on the new album. The radio theme appears throughout the album artwork and reflects the impact that radio has long had on the band. In the pre-TV and Internet days, radio served as the musical connection to the rest of Africa and the world. Long before the war, members of the band were exposed to vintage reggae, Congolese soukouss, American soul, and much more. During the war, radio served as an essential escape from the harsh reality of the refugee camps, bringing news and music.
2012 is the 10-year anniversary of the end of the Sierra Leone civil war that ravaged the nation and a look back brings a new appreciation for the story of Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars. After a compelling 2005 documentary about the band's post-war journey skyrocketed them to a global platform, their story and music was soon inspiring fans worldwide. Since then they have garnered praise from the likes of the New York Times, NPR, BBC, CNN, LA Times, PBS, Billboard and more. They appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, opened for Aerosmith, contributed to the Blood Diamond film soundtrack, and participated in the U2 tribute album In the Name of Love: Africa Celebrates U2. They have built a loyal fan base with extensive touring and festival performances both in the States and abroad, winning over audiences with their engaging and vibrant performances. The likes of Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Joe Perry, Ice Cube and Angelina Jolie have sung their praises. From the ashes of war, Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars have risen like a phoenix to become one of the most lauded African bands in the world.
Black Nature Band
Black Nature is an original musical artist who composes and performs positive music that incorporates a unique blend of African Rhythms, Reggae, Dancehall, Rock, Hip-Hop and R&B. He is also a musical producer and filmmaker.
As a young child, Black Nature began singing and playing percussion, and he was greatly influenced by the rich musical culture of Sierra Leone. In the midst of the country's brutal 10 year civil war, he fled to neighboring Guinea where he was placed in a refugee camp. During his time at the camp, he and other Sierra Leonean refugees formed a band that later became the world renowned Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars.
For the first few years, this band composed and performed original music to entertain their fellow refugees. They actually had to make their own instruments from the few materials available to them at the camp. In 2002, the group met documentary filmmakers Banker White and Zack Niles along with the talented musician Chris Velan. Banker, Zack and Chris followed the group from one refugee camp to another, creating a documentary of the band's experiences living and performing in the various refugee camps in Guinea. After three years in production, this documentary, entitled The Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, became an international success, winning eleven awards in various categories and is currently available on Netflix. For more information about the documentary, please visit www.refugeeallstars.org.
Following the release of the documentary, the band toured internationally for nine years and developed a loyal following. They have performed at events such as Red Rocks in Colorado, Life is Good Festival in Boston, Bonaroo Festival in Tennessee, Fuji Rock in Japan, Outside Lands in San Francisco, Central Park Summer Stage in New York, Prospect Park in Brooklyn, SXSW in Austin, Jam Cruise 9, the World Economic Forum in Geneva, Save the Children in New York and a variety of other notable venues and major festivals worldwide.
Two of the Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars' songs were featured on the soundtrack to the movie "Blood Diamond" starring Leonardo DiCaprio and they have appeared on Oprah, CBS, CNN, NPR, KEXP and many other US and European radio and news stations, establishing the band's success and notoriety in the industry.
Over the years the Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars have also collaborated and performed with many other well known musicians such as Aerosmith, Dispatch, Toots and the Maytals, Jimmy Cliff, Lee Scratch Perry, Burning Spear, Damian Marley, Wyclef Jean, Chadwick Stokes, Mavis Staples, Trombone Shorty, Bonerama, Chris Velan, Dan Zanes, and Toubab Krewe.
While remaining a member of the Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, Black Nature also established his own band in San Francisco over a year ago, called the Black Nature Band. The band includes a diverse group of musicians from San Francisco, San Diego, Brazil and Hawaii.
This rapidly growing band has been performing as both an opening act and as a headlining act in various venues throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, such as the Independent, Kimo's, Grant and Green, the Bissap Baobab, Amnesia, the Rockit-it Room, 50 Mason, the Boom Boom Room, Moe's Alley, the Mardi Gras San Francisco Style Festival 2012, Santa Clara University and several other local schools and non-profit agencies. These performances were well received by various audiences. The band also appeared on the KSCU Radio Station, KPOO Radio Station and the African Channel.
Additionally, Black Nature regularly performs as a guest vocalist with various artists, such as Rupa and the April Fishes, Chris Velan, Swoop Unit, Wontana Revolution, Sila, YoMama's Band and many other local and international touring bands. He was also invited to perform as a guest artist with Toubab Krewe on the 2012 Jam Cruise 10.
Naia's music is a personal/political soul-trip, as grounded and articulate as it is emotive, ever powered by the guitar and voice of this blossoming young visionary. Her songs would fit right alongside a radio playlist of Adele's "Chasing Pavements," Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" and John Legend's "Ordinary People."
She inspires with her words and brings the listener on an emotional journey. Listening to Naia or seeing her live you experience how her voice flows with a lyrical maturity and precision that conjures images of the great Lauryn Hill, Norah Jones, John Legend, Adele, or even soul diva Erykah Badu leaving the observer wide-eyed and ready for action.
Naia is confident and centered, as grounded as the musical tradition she grew up with. She is direct, kind, quick to laugh, and talks about music as a conciliatory tool that she has seen unite her family and plans to put to use inspiring and bringing together the peoples of the world.
"Community is so important to me," says Naia "A lot of what I try to convey in my music is that I feel like it's truly time for the people of the world to unite in order to create peace and joy. It has to start in the home, and next in your extended family and community. I wouldn't be singing and writing in the way that I do if it wasn't for the people who have touched my life and heart so dearly."
Wherever Naia's gifts come from, her message is moving, refreshing, and an undeniably eloquent and conscious one to be coming from anyone, let alone a 21 year-old from the hills of Western Massachusetts.