Something has always been wrong at Blankets and Wine, either local acts didn’t put in that extra effort to impress, or the Blankets and Wine audience that attended the thirteenth edition was a borrowed one.
It was one of those rare moments when the much impressionable show had an audience dance to an act that’s not Maddox, Afrigo Band and Chameleone – for the first time, you saw them ditch the selfie sticks for the music.
First on stage was Tusker Project Fame winner Davis Ntare, yes, he’s immensely talented and has over the time written a number of baby making music, but what he forgets most of the times, if your to sell this music to Ugandans, you need to be out of this world, if it’s not that, just do music that will get them dancing.
Thus it was until Jackie Akello stepped on the stage, that we got a different feel altogether. Originally, Akello was meant to perform at Blankets and Wine way earlier, but, during a competition where the organizers were seeking for a performer alongside Uhuru and Maddox.
Then, Akello was pitted against Kenneth Mugabi and the voters went with the Kibunomu singer, without any hard feelings, on Sunday, the songstress may have proved her worth.
With a backup team with producer Jude Mugerwa on the keys, Allan on the bass and Hakim Kiwanuka on the percussions, among others, she mesmerized, dropped jaws and in one way or another proved to the organizers why it could be the right time for Ugandan artistes to take charge of the show.
The artiste went through songs like Amari, a song that balances on western acoustic and our local feel – written in her indigenous language, the song is rich on emotion that easily come off her voice – not to mention that the ‘believe..’ chorus is quite catchy, even those that were listening for the first time jumped onto it.
But it wasn’t all about her performance, she was an engaging performer, there were times she just continued with her performances but still managing to pose for selfies with audience members – which became a brilliant trick to get them off the blankets.
Then in came Mo Roots, she’s known to many as a member of Qwela Band or a vocalist with Soul Deep crew, and in fact, many of the revelers had indeed seen her before, difference is that they had only seen her work the saxophone not the microphone.
She’s an amazing vocalist as well as a pianist, her sound though is quite very exotic, when she did many of her English songs, it was quite hard to give her an identity, but whether the Blankets and Wine crowd is simply tired of being criticized for giving performers hell, they danced, chanted and wowed at the right time, they were not pretending.
Ok, there were those that were just living the moment those that just wanted to seem like they are maestros among jazz or any urban music taste love, but many of the people that danced were indeed genuinely feeling the music.
Over the time, Blankets and Wine had successfully cemented its place as that one venue where good music comes to play from the likes Madtraxx, KanSoul, Eric Wainaina, Oliver Mtukudzi and even a reasonable number of local artistes rocked the show like Joel Sebunjo, Myko Ouma, Siima Sabiiti and Maurice Kirya among others.
But still, a lot happened to the show, for instance they left Uganda Museum where the first edition was held in 2012 to Kyadondo Rugby Grounds, only to bounce back to the Museum for the later editions (in fact that was the day the Museum became an ideal venue.)
As Mi Casa was closing the thirteenth edition, one thing was clear, Ugandans had impressed yet the show has over the time slipped out of their hands to whichever guest comes on board.
Of late, they’ve been South African artistes like Zahara, Uhuru, Freshly Ground and finally Mi Casa.
Much as the trio had a great time on stage, there are sections of revelers that believe the Ugandans Davis, Akello, Mo Roots and Kirya Kuti earned their spot in a respectable manner.
“With all due respect, I feel like even if the show had ended with Kuti, they would have killed it,” noted a reveler.
Kuti has a following in Cape Town but in Uganda, he’s literally unkown thus when he stepped on the stage with lots of instruments, you wouldn’t imagine he would even get that audience shaking. But trust his fusion of Jazz, Afro Beat and sounds of Rumba, he had the audience dance and leave chanting his name.
One Ben, a reveler and a diehard of the show noted that Ugandans this time rehearsed and thus brought it on unlike the past times where they looked like they were being thrown on stage by force.
“And this time round, they minimized on the covers that even when they did, they were wonderfully owned,” he said.
Mo-T, the trumpeter from Mi Casa didn’t see the performances because of their delayed flight from Kigali, but while talking to journalists at Sheraton Hotel on Monday, he noted that the best way artistes can get better, is never stopping to rehearse.
A message that local artistes need to listen to, especially, if they are to eventually own the Blankets and Wine stage.