REFUGE is Nairobi’s very own blues rock band made of six students/best friends from the International School of Kenya. Their sound is high-energy, guitar-driven rock with strong influences from the classic rock greats of the 60s and 70s. They are determined to promote authentic, righteous and soulful music to a new generation.
REFUGE’s influences are broad but some of the artists they listen to and appreciate include the Allman Brothers, Ten Years After, Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath, Santana, Led Zeppelin, Grateful Dead, Eric Clapton and Blues greats such as Albert King, Elmore James and Buddy Guy.
The band is named “REFUGE” because it represents what they are all about: somewhere you can go to and escape from the superficial, inauthentic music that fills our airways. However, they are not a throwback band. They believe blues, rock and jazz are timeless and universal, will always be great, and just need a little kick from young people to bring some life into it.
Although made of expats, REFUGE considers itself a Kenyan band with family roots in other places, such as the U.S., Bolivia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, U.K. and Belgium. The band’s youth and diversity is unmissable – members are 13 to 16 years old, multicultural, multilingual and multinational, covering four different continents. The lead guitarist (the band leader) and singer are also siblings. All members come from parents that work in international aid and development, which is what brought them to Kenya in the first place.
The band started in 2016 when Patrick, Gabe and Silas got together for a random, first-time-ever jam session and realized – to everyone’s surprise – that they weren’t actually terrible; the humble beginnings of any band. So they started to learn some songs, played them for friends, and eventually came to dominate the hardcore international middle school social scene. Over time, they developed a very clear preference for the Blues, riff-driven rock, improvisation, and lots of jamming. That led to expanding membership in order to bring in all the necessary elements to complete the band, eventually adding bass, vocals and piano/organ. All members are multi-instrumentalists, all write music and lyrics, and all fell in love with the Blues and classic rock together.
REFUGE started making waves throughout East Africa in mid-2018 with the release of its first original song “Gone Astray”, which debuted at #1 in the East African rock charts and held that position for months. Multiple local and international TV, radio and online appearances quickly followed, drawing a steady demand for live performances by Nairobi’s best venues.
REFUGE is confident and ambitious, and is looking to move itself forward. They are highly creative and fully independent – 100% of their music is written, composed and directed by the band itself, which recently recorded a demo of 9 original songs under the album title ‘Haven to a Heavy Soul’:
Check out their music videos and documentaries here:
“A Brighter Day”
Documentary by CGTN
REFUGE’s social media handles and links:
‘Haven to a Heavy Soul’
From the Rock and Blues Review:
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