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Stonefest passes test one

Stonefest Art, Music and Tech Festival went down at the Centre of Performing Arts and Culture (CEPAC) in Jinja over the weekend.

For two days, the curators of the show put together acts that transcended the traditional festival performances as known to many religious attendants; these included poets, a film night, storytelling, dance, puppetry as well as music.

For the opening, poets like Davis Ntalo, Wake, and Zoey the Storyteller were lined up – for an art that is yet to cement its position among the entertainment consumers, the audience gracefully received the performances.

It’s on the second day that much of the music actually happened with performances from Sandra Kay, Benjamin Spartos, Peter Ekulam, Jon Blashford, Kim Nana and 1Rail among others.

Unlike different events that have been loathed by the organisers in Jinja, Stonefest managed to get some love from the locals that have in the past not been known for attending events like these ones.

“The enthusiasm about this music in this side of the country is still building up but this turn up is generally great,” commented one of the revelers at the show.

Apparently, past shows like Doadoa and Bayimba regionals that have been held in Jinja struggled to get audiences even when they programmed local acts from the area.

It was the reason why the debut Stonefest activations that ended in the wee hours of Sunday morning was worth celebrating – for the first time, you felt that audiences from Jinja strongly outnumbered the Kampala travelers.

They connected with the artistes and sang the lyrics of the songs word for word; according to one Ruth Mirembe, a resident in Jinja, the festival was a success because of the location and the timing; “We have a live music scene that’s cropping up, people host weekly shows that simply celebrate live music these days.”

But of course the festival ran into some issues even before it started, for instance, three of the top acts like Kaz Kasozi, Suzan Kerunen and Maro that had been announced earlier were all absent.

Kasozi posted an apology before the earlier explaining that he couldn’t make it to Jinja since he had a two week engagement with Silent Voices Uganda whose production Just Me, You and the Silence he does music for, Suzan had a patient while nothing was known about Maro.

But the party went on with rap battles, abrupt reggae music jam sessions and a dance party that featured a DJ from Nyege Nyege Festival.

During the events, the organisers took sometime off to award two jinja based artistes that were voted as the best vocalists during a search that happened earlier this year, both performers, Sandra Kay and Benjamin Spartos walked off with two awards and each a recording contract.

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