Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars
and held forth, using battered guitars and a generator-powered amplifier. As for the events that befell them in the intervening years - as Merle Haggard said of his experiences at San Quentin prison, you'll sleep better if I skip them. But what's happened since the musicians were recorded in the camp, by two aspiring young documentarians, is quite a story in itself.
West African music in English is rarer than it once was, but the litany of privations the filmmakers heard from the All Stars was in that language, perhaps because Sierra Leoneans of various ethnic groups were thrown together in the remote camp. "I just took all the problems, the suffering of the people, and make a song of it," says group leader Reuben M. Koroma in a spoken introduction to the song "Living like a Refugee." Codirector Zach Niles showed the footage to his boss, high-powered San Francisco ticket broker Shelley Lazar; Lazar buttonholed film producer Steve Bing, actor Cameron Crowe, and humanitarian organizer Bob Geldof at Mick Jagger's sixtieth birthday party in Prague. Soon various other entertainment moguls, including Paul McCartney, also wanted in. They helped finance production of the documentary, which made the rounds of independent theaters in 2005.