Blantyre’s Music Patronage


Symon and Kendall, Hax Momba and Sally Nyundo early this week, to be precise, on Sunday, descended on Blantyre. They travelled all the way from Lilongwe to give fans in the Southern Region a different sample of music.

But lo and behold! Only a handful people turned up for a show that was demanding K700 per head. A few metres away at the Afro Motel, Skeffa Chimoto and his band were playing as well and their venue was packed with people that had parted ways with a thousand kwacha.

And the explanation that emanated was that the three stars combined failed to wrestle the magnetism that Skeffa now holds because among many reasons, they are yet to get people’s confidence.

I was one of the few guys that attended the show, basically, because I am always here, week in, week out and I wanted us to discuss the other kind of music that was brought by the Lilongwe based artists.

There are a number of reasons that one would put into consideration though.

The first one is that this is a newly established band and therefore they have to make a name first.

However, this can easily be shot down considering that Symon and Kendall, Hax Momba, Grecian Mwambo and Sally Nyundo are not small musicians in the country.

A number arts writers and radio presenters that I met at the show also were of the view that, the beginning is always difficult.

They say when Skeffa Chimoto was starting as a man with his band; he never had nice stories to tell about patronage, because just a handful would turn up for his shows.

The other thing is that it looks like fans, especially, in Blantyre have cut a special place for some musicians that even when they are still churning out mediocrity, people will still troop to their shows because they have a history of how best they can perform sometimes.

But perhaps I also need to say here from the onset that people that never patronised this show last Sunday missed a lifetime entertainment package delivered by the three without stint or limit.

Well, on the scale of performance of 1to 10, the five member band performed superbly better when they did instrumental covers for Jamaican reggae pieces, when they were readying themselves for the main act.

But when it mattered most, where there was need to perhaps coax more patronage, more so when there were doubting Thomases that stood outside the entrance, debating whether to trek down to Skeffa’s show or enter and sample what the Lilongwe artists had brought, they failed miserably.

Some shabbily looking lad, who I found later, is the backing vocalists for the band, were the one who took the stage first.

His performance was awful and it got even worse because he was attempting to do covers of local, African, American and European artists without getting any patrons interested, while others felt it was repugnant enough for their taste were left with no choice but to leave the venue, those that remained behind busied themselves with some .

Signs of a serious and entertaining afternoon started showing when Grecian Mwambo took over the stage.

But it was Hax Momba who burnt the stage with his roots reggae performance. Given chance Hax Momba could become another stage wizard as his performance was enthusing, not to mention the sudden change of the band back to the star studded performance.

The feeling that this outfit is merely a reggae band soon evaporated when Symon and Kendall rose to the occasion when their brand of music which is dancehall and traditional beat.

Then Sally Nyundo as usual sent the handful patrons spell bound with a performance that was spirited.

The performance of the three artists is what I also would like to dwell on for real as is was oozing humility in abundance.

The artists are not very poor and with around ten patrons that turned up for the show, it was easy for them to return the K7000 to them and postpone the show.

They, however, never took this road and more stirring up was the fact that they never gave the few patrons half-baked performance. The performance to say the least was selfless.

Everyone that came was feeling sorry for those that had not turned up for the show because they had missed entertainment in full package.

It is a pity that patronage by the Blantyre fans should be as selective as disappointing as was the case on Sunday.

There has to be a spirit within residents that we need to support the efforts our artists are putting up to bring us entertainment.

Imagine if one day musicians decided to stop releasing albums as well as giving us live performances as they do. Would we still be the same people? Have you ever seen how an entertainment starved society behaves?

Feedback: drummingpen@columnist.com

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About Gregory Gondwe - Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Gregory Gondwe is a Malawian journalist who started practising journalism in 1993. Until March 31, 2012 he was regional editor and bureau chief for Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS). Gregory is also a media consultant assisting several international journalists pursuing assignments in Malawi. He holds a Diploma of Journalism and an Intermediate Certificate in Journalism among other media-related certificates. He is also columnist for Malawi's first and oldest weekly, Malawi News. He can be contacted on gregorygondwe@gmail.com.
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