If I had to describe S.E. Rogie with a simple, pithy phrase I’d call him the "good time palm wine poet" (more on palm wine music here). His music contains all the languor, gentleness and bonhommie of an afternoon spent drinking with friends and lovers at a local palm wine bar in his native Sierra Leone. His guitar playing is simple, unadorned and yet deeply tuneful. His voice is a warm, deep baritone that can creep into a tenor register. The songs have a rollicking rhythm that carries the listener along like a gentle cresting wave. His music is full of love and gracious living. Just the kind of fellow you’d like to spend a long lazy Sunday afternoon with spinning tunes, telling stories and enjoying what life has to offer.
One of my great regrets in life is that I first discovered Rogie just before his death. He had already completed a U.S. tour which was, alas, his last one. But I did have an aural legacy that he left behind in the form of his last recording, the hilariously titled, Dead Men Don’t Smoke Marijuana. It is a totally lovely, captivating record which provides a terrific introduction to his music. Listen here to African Gospel
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