New Heathens

Rolling Refugees

Leader of Sierra Leone's Refugee All-Stars, Reuben Koroma

I finally caught one of my favorite bands in the world, Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars. I've been ga-ga for this band, which formed in a refugee camp in Guinea, since I heard their first record, "Living Like A Refugee."

Co-founder, Franco Langba

These guy's story makes anybody in any VH1 "Behind the Music" look like a sissy. Everybody in this band was driven from Sierra Leone by a brutal civil war. Some bandmembers saw their families slaughtered, other members had limbs amputated by guerillas wielding machetes. (There's an incredible documentary about this band here.)

The youngest Refugee, Black Nature

Yet the music this band makes is so uplifting and downright fun. What I loved most about the live show was watching the guys come up to the front of the stage and dance. They weren't technically brilliant dancers, but they were enthusiastic dancers. Their joy was infectious. The entire audience, including United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Director Pierre Bertrand, danced.

I also loved the fact that it was a FREE SHOW at the Robert Gould Theater, part of New Yorks' French Institute. (I've noticed, in the last few years, a too-often inverse relationship between the price of a ticket and the quality of a show).

Like a nerd, it was such a charge for me to meet these dudes in person. Here's the dumb picture of me, being "That Guy" in the Sierra Leone's Refugee All-Stars baseball shirt, posing like a goon with Black Nature.

Me, Black Nature

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