Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars are famous for their story. Its members met in refugee camps during Sierra Leone’s civil war and formed a band to spread joy during an otherwise difficult time. But the band’s music is what has stood the test of time. Ten years, two albums and an award-winning documentary later, these eight men are still riding that upbeat reggae groove.
The band consists of three drummers (all with hand-held drums) and one percussionist. There’s 2 guitars (one electric and one acoustic) a bass and everybody sings. Their music has a reggae feel, although it’s not exactly reggae, I don’t think.
“Jah Come Down” opens the show. The acoustic guitar keeps the melody while the electric guitar plays a riff throughout. Occasionally the bass comes in with a cool line or two adding a nice low end.
“Living Stone” has a different singer (the percussionist). His vocals are a bit more mellow, as this song is. It’s amazing to see the age range of the players.
“Tamagbondorsu (The Rich Mock The Poor)” is the final song. It opens with a guitar lick that reminded me of Paul Simon’s Graceland until i re-thought and realized that Graceland sounded like this.
The songs are fun and lively, perfect for dancing (as the singer does during the long instrumental outro). Most reggae sounds the same to me, and these three songs do tend to blend together quite a lot. But the music is fun and the players’ skill is undeniable.
Here;s to ten more years.
[READ: December 4, 2015] Defiance
This book is set three years into the Nazi occupation of France. Things are sort of the same but worse for the residents of Vichy. Neighbors inform on neighbors, and some residents collaborate with the Germans (and are more successful because of it). And then in 1943, a new French-based Nazi police force called the Milice begin keeping watch over their own people
This aggressiveness causes more resistance, of course. And Paul has been drawing detailed and insulting pictures and posting them all over town (which is making the Milice quite upset).
Of course the kids are taking more aggressive stances now, too. Some say that the posters are causing more harm because it makes the police mad. But other kids’ parents have joined the police–some of whom are nice to the kids. Even Paul’s sister, Marie, believes what her teachers say about Marshall Philippe Pétain (there’s a lesson about Pétain at the end of the book) and his governance. And no one is going to say anything about the Resistance.
The Germans still come around, and this time they are asking for all of Paul’s family’s wine (without paying of course), so this occupation is literally hitting home.
And then we see Jacques (who initiated Paul into the Resistance) asking Paul’s older sister to help out. If she can flirt with the German boys, maybe she can learn something about their intel. Jacques reveals that a group of the Resistance is hiding in the woods. They are called the Maquis. And Jacques needs to know who much the Germans know about the Maquis.
One day, as Paul is putting up an anti-German poster he sees another poster which is full of fleur de lys–Charles de Gaulle’s symbol (the end of the book give s brief summary of de Gaulle as well).
But then they learn that Jacques is gone. There is concern that he has been taken to the work camps in Germany. But it turns out that he is actually with the Maquis. How will they get intel to him? And is Paul’s sister actually falling for the German she is trying to get information out of? (And how can he be so nice given what he is?).
This book if about making small inroads against the Nazis. There is no overwhelming sense of accomplishment except when moments of normalcy can resume. And that makes the overall mood even worse.
The summary of De Gaulle is fascinating. He had criticized the French military and his criticisms were correct–the flaws that he saw with the French miliary were what the Germans were able to blitzkrieg through. But even in exile he managed to fight the Nazis. It was Pétain who signed the ceasefire (which started Occupation). De Gaulle created the Free French Forces which he commanded from abroad. To complicate things there were many resistance groups who didn’t agree with de Gaulle. By the end of 1943 all of the Resistance groups began working together.
And we’ll see how the whole series ends in book three.
For ease of searching, I include: Philippe Petain.