EVENT REVIEW : DRUMJAM SHOWDOWN

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Of covers, strange arrangement and memories of boy bands,here is a rundown of how things went down last Sunday.

Have you fainted from the heat yet? Because that Sunday the heat was so bad I had to change my outfit a couple of times before making my way to Alliance Francaise where the event was set to take place.

Thank heavens for that beautiful courtyard at Alliance. The breeze was just right and the set up perfect for a concert on a Sunday afternoon. On stage were members of Fused Jazz Band. Don was killing it on that saxophone and the crowd loved it.Nice rendition of Lost Without You.If there is one thing I love to see is a band that is totally in sync with each other,you should have seen them. Even when one drummer stepped in to replace the other it was seamless and they seemed to be enjoying each other’s presence on stage. There was even a fun point where the drummers Serge and Amani Baya had a mock battle , so much fun to watch.

After that warm up session we as the audience were ready to really get into it. The MCs were Enoch and a yummy looking Nonsizi. I am very happy that they added her to the mix.The two took us through what to expect for the afternoon. If you are a musician out there specifically one who plays instruments they have a mentorship program where you will be taught about how to properly play your instruments. That is what I am talking about, people taking an active role in helping our industry grow.

They gave us a taste of what you expect to learn when you get there. First up was one of the mentors Abisi on the piano. Now I am sure everyone who was there can attest to his prowess but that session(The Language of the Piano) killed the mood that was set up before. People started walking out, went straight to their phones, started socialising heck I even stepped out for cake. He knows his stuff and I learnt about octaves and other stuff but as a teacher the challenge is to always make the content interesting.

After him was Eugene Akatsa who at least got us to try and warm up. He is also a mentor and specifically plays the keyboard. He was there to talk to us about the difference between hearing and listening. Very fascinating stuff he even had a singer come and demonstrate to us what he was really talking about. Praise and worship teams this session would help y’all sometimes the disaster that takes place on the pulpit it’s only the Lord that can forgive you. Audience participation gives birth to interest in your subject and he managed to do that for us.

Next up was George Nyoro who was covering How to Solo in a band. I LOVED his session and I think everyone else did too. He knew how to keep our attention by having background music playing softly as he spoke. He was funny and even I who had no knowledge in the subject was engaged. One downside though NEVER depreciate yourself. He kept saying that he wasn’t that good because the greats were in the audience and I kept thinking Dude there is a reason why you were picked to do this session and not the greats as you kept saying. Otherwise good job.

Before the competing bands came up on stage was a guy called Arthur  Chiluba. He came up with a band donned in gold jackets reminiscent of a 70s or 80s feel with dancers and BGVs. He is primarily a dancer choreographing dances for Sauti Sol ( the new video Unconditionally Bae was choreographed by him) but also a singer.I can’t say much for the singing but his dancing was good. Shout out to one of the girls who took over the drumming for a bit when the spot was vacant. She did such a good job.

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Arthur Chiluba

After all that now the competition was ready to begin. So how the competitions will be conducted is that there are 12 bands competing, 2 each month from March to  August  will go head to head. One band will win each round then finally they will compete as the 6 until they trim the number to the top 3. From the top 3 the winner shall be declared. Now the bands had 3o minutes : 10 minutes for their own composition, 10 minutes to do local music and 10 minutes to do international music. What they were being judged on was their creativity, originality, their tightness as a band, their compositions…the bands had a lot to do.So if you missed this event worry not there are many more to come.The panel of judges comprised of Tetu Shani, Michel Ongaro and Amani Baya.

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First up was New Wind a band whose members were mostly from Congo. I saw two familiar faces in the band from Daystar University (I just had to shout you out:). They gave off an aura of ” We got this”. They were competing against  a band of youngins who called themselves Music in Me. I loved how uniform they were  with branded T-shirts and black and white. However they looked nervous from the get go but their support system was great,nearly brought the house down.

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Music in Me

New Wind dove in with much gusto. Everyone likes Lingala so they managed to get some cheers from the crowd. The instruments were rather loud though. By the end of their first session they had already won some of us over.Music in Me had a really boy band feel with their song, Losing it. It was rather slow and lulled abit. The song needed more meat on its bones.

Up next was the local set.New Wind killed it with a compilation of 3 songs Kambua’s Nishikilie, Mercy Masika’s Mwema and another which I forget(sorry).They had everyone singing and dancing along. We were having church up in there! Music in Me came in with Sema’s ‘Leta Wimbo’. I was impressed because they look young and I wonder how old they were when that song came out. Thanks for the memories though, you took me back to a special place. The singing though was off key and at some point we on the audience side could not wait for the song to end.

The international set by New Wind was really bold. I mean Adele ‘Set fire to the rain’ and Sade’s ‘Smooth Operator’,yo, that was brave. Let me say this New Wind’s singer is someone who has been singing since her time in Daystar in Hellen Mtawali’s band Afrizo and her voice has always been a standout. I think the Adele bit needed tweaking but I think Sade was way up her alley. The band did the Sade song justice in my opinion. Serge, I saw you waiting to hear those particular notes in the song, did they nail it?

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New Wind

Music in me did Yahaya and a dancehall track for their international set.Poor song choices in my opinion but they really picked up steam in the dancehall set. Shout out to the guy in glasses. You have a fire in you that I could not fail to notice. Music in Me have really nice harmonies.

After that there was the head to head between the two bands. Amani gave some really interesting challenges that tested how much of a musical ear  the players possessed. They did not do so well especially when the drummers were asked to play a Ugandan beat. Then one of the judges Michel Ongaro came and schooled every one there. I was impressed especially because he is blind but when he gets his hands on that instrument, kwisha!

Tetu Shani  gave some useful feedback. He spoke the audience’s mind while articulating the judges thoughts. He gave tips on confidence on stage , performance, musical arrangements the works. Michel was also very insightful and I love that they were non partisan. That was a really good panel. After the judges tallied their results together with the audience’s votes New Wind emerged as the winners.We then all went home.

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MCs: Enoch and Nonsizi

My thoughts, love what Drumjam is doing, giving a platform for instrumentalists to showcase and work on their craft. Competitions like these are what we need for ALL musicians. I think though keeping your line up interesting is something that continually can be worked on.A few dull moments here and there but nothing we can’t fix. The MCs were better this time round…but Enoch please don’t wear shades next time,it’s very disturbing trying to connect with you as an audience member. Keep Nonsizi she just needs a bit of tweaking and she will be perfect.I like Alliance, nice venue. I can’t wait for the next event,I hope to  see you dear readers at the next event.

Yours truly.

Red.

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