Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fans or Musicians: Who is the King?


Yes, this is the question I ask when I patronize musical shows that have several musicians lined up to perform.
There is just too much importance that performers attach to themselves at the expense of their patrons who are the kingmakers.
You find that when their career is in the crack of dawn an artist starts by failing to attract patronage at their live shows, a case in point were shows by Skeffa Chimoto.
Then before they know it they start pulling crowds and discover that they are no longer artists that people can ‘play’ with anyhow because they are now 'filthily' rich and loudly popular.
It becomes disappointing when bands like Black Missionaries for example, will headline a musical show that will start at Civo Stadium at 1 PM, for example, and by 5PM the show is scheduled to be over.
But while the curtain raisers will play until 4:40PM the main act will only come a few minutes to the end and give excuses that the venue owners are saying it is over.
While at times the venue owners are indeed irritant sometimes, as is the case with Mzuzu Hotel’s Boma Park, but to a large extent, the musicians themselves are fond of giving patrons a raw deal.
It is strange because it is at these places where promotions for several artists have been done.
Soldier Lucius Banda would take budding artists on his national wide tour and usually by the time they move from Nsanje to Chitipa, Mchinji to Salima the artist is a household name and could now stand with their heads high.
At times, live show venues are the best promotional stages than some media outlets. Take for example The Blacks again, at their show at Ozone Leisure Centre in Machinjiri on Sunday this week; they decided to turn the event into a promotional work for their Kuimba 9 which is in the offing.
It was here where people saw them perform ‘Kwawo’ and ‘Tabwera’ new tracks that are set to be hits in the said album.
I am particularly happy that what I complained about the band has now been taken heed of and finally started bearing fruits because it was at this show where Band leader Anjiru Fumulani acknowledged that people have been asking them to be more innovative with the beat and message and they are doing just that in the forth coming Kuimba album.
Let me not digress, as my question still is who is the main act; between the musician and the fan who patronises a musical show?
I remember fallen Music knowledge ‘stockroom’ Mayeso Chirwa once pointed out that “Standard performance duration for professional live bands is 45 minutes.”
He said live band performances are thus sold or bought in 45 minutes sets. And that if an artist plays for 90 minutes he/she gets money for two sets.
He said this is not laziness… It has regulation time for realistic viewers’ attention span and players’ mileage and resilience test.
Now for a reviewer and critic like me I have a problem yes, when an artist will play from 1PM to 5PM but if that’s what they have announced will be the duration of their act, then I have a very big problem when it is not done honestly.
I know that an artist is aware that they cannot last a mile; if indeed they play more than 45 minutes. I have tried to sing for just 10 minutes and the way the whole body responds at least gives a picture of what singing is all about.
But it becomes a raw deal to find that an artist will show up early because he is dashing to another show and this drains the musicians even more.
You find that a few years down the road the golden voice has been replaced by some unrecognisably croaky, gruffy, throaty, and guttural voice that takes away the artist’s mettle.
You find that the musician that people used to know is now playing his own music but patrons almost pelts him or her with stones thinking that he or she is a copycat.
The other raw deal that artists will give patrons is where they will imbibe all available alcoholic beverages before going on stage.
I remember one artist, who is now a born again gospel artist, was hauled to the stage completely sloshed in the belief that he will regain conscious right on stage and perform, but instead it was an act that only attracted more patronage as he became an embarrassment when he blackened out. 
Such wanton taking of beer and yes, smoking, also compromise the voice of musicians; that voice that catapulted them to stardom turn them into laughing stocks once it is distorted.
Now, unless the musicians realise that patrons or the fans are the Kings they will be punctual and even take care of themselves to retain the voices that made their names and ensure that people are not given a raw deal.
Feedback: drummingpen@columnist.com

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