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They all danced


It was quite a chore hiking out to the Orange Court to see the Refugee All Stars of Sierra Leone. The Fishmans show at the Field of Heaven was apparently packed, and if you took the usual route to the Orange Court via the boardwalk, you found yourself snarled in a traffic jam, since they weren't letting any more people into the area and folks were sitting on the boardwalk listening to the show. By means of some rude, un-Japanese antics (leaving the boardwalk and cutting through the underbrush), I was able to make it just in time for the opening reggae song.

Reuben Koroma, the leader of the group, was a gracious host, explaining each song and its origin, constantly saying "aishite imasu" (we love you) and "odorimasho" (let's dance) to the audience, which was nice but needless since the crowd was with him and his large fatigue-dressed ensemble all the way. He explained at one point the group's origins, how they were indeed all refugees from Sierra Leone who formed a band in a camp, as a way of introducing the song "Refugee Rolling," which, like the Bob Dylan song of a similar title, is about what it's like to not be able to stay in one place, though in the Refugees' case it has nothing to do with choice.

The band spread infectious good cheer, switching from hard-core roots reggae courtesy of guitarist Geassay 'Jah Sun' Dowy Bull to the highlife-style goombay music they specialize in and on to a cappella gospel. As the Fishmans show ended, more and more people filled the field. Koroma welcomed them not as stragglers from another show, but as fellow seekers of truth through rhythm and melody. No one didn't dance.