Sooliman E. Rogie

Dead Men Don't Smoke Marijuana

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The title of this album proved to be tragically ironic, as the 68-year-old Rogie died shortly before his international debut was released. But if there's any justice in this world, the deceptively simple charms of Dead Men Don't Smoke Marijuana will leave the singer/guitarist from Sierra Leone immortalized by his music. Rogie is a master of palm wine music, which is named for a drink made from the milky white sap of Sierra Leone's palm trees, and the atmospheric, carefree feel of the tunes conjures up images of relaxing times on breezy beaches watching lush, tropical sunsets. Rogie's lilting guitar, backed only by standup bass and subtle percussion, has a rootsy folk-blues feel, while his soothing, buttery baritone caresses you like a warm Caribbean wind. With traditional African call-and-response vocals, the music comes off like a cross between the laid-back island rhythms of reggae, the back-porch vibe of rustic blues, and the spiritual feel of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, making this a sweet, stirring testament to an undeservedly little-known talent.

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