Thursday nights are no longer the same for Blantyre music lovers since the birth of Sounds of Malawi at the Jacaranda Cultural Centre (JCC).
Last Thursday, it was a rare experience when JCC introduced collaboration nights.
Saxophonist Rick Deja shared the stage with ‘bush’ musician Waliko Makhala and acoustic guitar maestro Snowden Ibu brought sounds that strum the heart. With percussionist Francisco Supriano, lead guitarist Manyozo Tchado and saxophonist Emmanuel Gonthako, the performance was, apparently, a dress rehearsal for the slot’s showcase this Thursday.
Host Code Sangala said it was the introduction of collaboration nights on the set, where local as well as international acts will be sharing the stage.
“We are happy that the set has grown from having an audience of five to 200 on some nights. At the end of each month, we have a showcase and we are happy that artists featured tonight are likely to be on this month’s showcase,” he said.
At exactly 7pm, Thursday’s collaboration started, with Rick Deja giving the opening songs, spiced up with his own anecdotes of his Malawi music experiences. He performed first using an acoustic guitar, not his trademark sax.
“I first came to Malawi in 1991 and the acoustic guitar was my comrade. I used it mostly when I wanted to compose songs. The sax for me is for conversation,” he said.
As per his word, when the music flowed, some patrons’ hips reacted to the strokes of the bass on his acoustic guitar while their hearts took them wherever they wanted as their legs stomped in rhythm to Supriano’s drums and shakers. Their heads shook to Tchado’s lead guitar strokes.
After a few songs, Deja called on stage Ibu, whom he called the Minister of Acoustic Guitar. While chipping in with his sax, Ibu brought Chiletso and Chiphetsa.
Things went overboard when Deja introduced Makhala, Minister of Bush Music. Together, they performed a number of songs, including Malawi—a song that depicts Malawi as a land of flames, a befitting song what is happening on the political front. They also performed Bwalo la Njobvu and a rendition of Stonard Lungu’s version of Zapadziko.