• Latest albums released by Vermont label Cumbancha
     | August 30,2012
    Zach Smith photo

    Touring in support of their third album, “Radio Salone,” and second on Charlotte-based record label Cumbancha, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars bring their joyous blend of reggae and West African music to Goddard College’s Haybarn Theatre on Saturday.

    When Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars bring their joyous blend of roots reggae and West African music- and renowned dance moves - to Plainfield on Saturday for a dance party at Goddard College’s Haybarn Theatre, it could almost be considered a home-state show of sorts for the band that was formed over a decade ago in Guinea refugee camps during the Sierra Leone civil war.

    That’s because the All Stars have released two albums on the Charlotte-based record label Cumbancha, founded five years ago by Plainfield native Jacob Edgar. “Radio Salone,” released in April and the band’s third album overall, is “their most eclectic and best-produced program of music to date,” according to the Boston Globe.

    Recorded in Brooklyn and produced on analog equipment by Victor Axelrod of Antibalas and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, “Radio Salone” delivers a buoyant, vintage-sounding blend of classic sounds from across West Africa – including highlife, soukous and afrobeat – and old-school roots reggae.

    Though the band was born amidst dire hardship after fleeing massacres and widespread destruction in Sierra Leone, their music is a decidedly upbeat and spirit-lifting sound that’s steeped in positivity – a sound that’s best captured on “Radio Salone.” And their inspiring, dance-inducing live shows have helped them become a popular draw in the Green Mountain State.

    Bombino free show

    Another Cumbancha artist, Bombino, performs a free show at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8, at the McCarthy Arts Center Recital Hall at St. Michael’s College in Colchester.

    Bombino is the stage name of 31-year-old Nigerian singer and guitar wizard Omara Moctar, one of the most buzzed-about new artists in world music – and “one of the hottest new talents on the Cumbancha label roster,” according to Cumbancha president Jacob Edgar.

    Bombino is the latest musical sensation among the nomadic Tuareg people of Saharan Africa, which has seen such groups as Tinariwen soar to the forefront of the world music scene. “Agadez,” released last year by Cumbancha and Bombino’s proper international debut, is easily one of the most stunning albums in years, world music or otherwise.

    Bombino’s distinctive and understated “desert blues” sound mesmerizes on the strength of his soulful yet soothing vocals and brilliant yet delicate guitar work. “Agadez” is “a gem that avoids the hard trance of some other Tuareg acts and balances aggressive guitar riffs with beautiful, earnest melodies,” said the Boston Globe. “It sounds like the desert, but without stereotype – no undulations or ultra-sparse blues, but assured songs with a modern feel.”

    And National Public Radio, which called Bombino “a young performer with the charisma and probing imagination to become the first Tuareg star,” said the album “contains some of the most sublime guitar licks you’ll hear in 2011.”

    Goddard College

    Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars perform Saturday at 8 p.m. at Goddard College’s Haybarn Theatre, 123 Pitkin Rd., in Plainfield. $15 advance, $20 day of show (all ages). Call 454-8311 or go online to www.goddard.edu.

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