It's fairly easy to become a fan of the Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars even before you hear a note of the band's music. The group's back story, as suggested by its name, is one of horrific strife and superhuman perseverance. Displaced by a decade-long civil war, the members met at a refugee camp in neighboring Guinea and turned suffering into song. The war may be over, but the music lives on through the All Stars' mix of upbeat polyrhythms, slinky Soweto guitar upticks and socially aware reggae grooves. The group shares the stage with Toubab Krewe, a North Carolina-based instrumental quintet that mixes traditional African styles and instrumentation with a love of fluid, in-the-moment jamming.
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