S. E. Rogie – Palm Wine Guitar Music


The sweet, old West African tradition of palm wine guitar has few great players left. Palm wine music dates back to the days when Portuguese sailors first introduced guitars to West African port cities. Early African guitarists and bottle percussionists played at gatherings where revelers drank the fermented sap of palm trees, a traditional alternative to bottled beer. S. E. Rogie, palm wine music’s greatest ambassador, began his career as “The Jimmy Rodgers of Sierra Leone.” His early hit “My Sweet Elizabeth” stands as the most popular song Sierra Leone has produced to date. After he left home in 1973, Rogie’s long, up-and-down career took him around West Africa, to the US, and ultimately to England, where he recorded, taught, and performed vigorously until his sudden death at the age of 68. [Taken from Afropop.org]

Just to add a few words of my own, I picked this up without knowing what it would sound like and was immensely happy once I got it home. This is joyous music, filled with life. The slightly rough production makes it sound even more real and authentic (if that makes sense) and it all just makes me want to get some palm wine and waste an afternoon kicking back and listening to song after song.

Listen: “My Lovely Elizabeth”, “Please Go Easy With Me”

43 Comments

  • Oh yeah! Seriously diggin it.

  • You’ve got some incredible LPs/CDs in this section – am wondering if you’d be interested in selling any of them?

  • waxidermy/goatboy,

    someone just asked me and i myself am looking for EARLY recordings of SE Rogie when he was actually imitating Jimmie Rodgers. I am working on a second book on yodeling to follow up YODEL-AY-EE-OOOO and this would be an important cross-cultural link. i am also producing a second yodel compilation after the recently released ROUGH GUIDE TO YODEL, which i think coincidentally includes the above respondent Man Cable as part of Alpendub, yes dub and yodeling.

    bart plantenga

  • “My Lovely Elizabeth” is really a wonderful song.
    I may be wrong, but I believe this track has strong political overtones. Reactionary, perhaps pro-colonial. Great stuff!

  • S.E. Rogie cut a record for Realworld in the 1990s. Interesting that you say he sounds like Jimmie Rodgers when on Rogie’s later stuff he sounds like an African Doc Watson!

  • The track was ‘My Lovely Elizabeth’ and not “my sweet Elezabeth”.

  • I remember as a boy of 7 growing up in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa when ‘My Lovely Elizabeth’ hit the airwaves, those were the days when Kenya was still a colony and African music was rare on the radio but SE Rogie broke into the charts and that song has stayed with me till today. Through his wilderness year he had moderate success with ‘Praise Be To Sékou Touré etc. His last album though ” was a real triumph, really great stuff.

  • se rogee is my father…and im just now learning about him.

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