IN Kampala today, cabaret shows - consisting of live bands entertaining patrons are not uncommon in bars, restaurants and hotels. But while this is not necessarily a new phenomenon, the trend is that new bands mainly comprising of young artistes from diverse professions (not necessarily musicians) w
You can hardly find a night spot worth its name without a designated day(s) of the week for a live band that plays there. There seems to be renewed interest in live entertainment from Kampalaâ€™s revellers.
Many young professional musicians like Irene Namubiru, Sarah Zawedde (of Zawee Band) and recently Blu3â€™s Lillian Mbabazi (of Sundowners Band) have formed bands to cash in on the craze.
What is more interesting though is the trend of young professionals, ranging from students to lawyers, doctors, surveyors and the rest, forming bands to cash in on the craze.
These normally come together after work to rehearse and perform at certain days of the week at any given night spot for typically between sh800,000 and sh3m per night.
When one mentions new mushrooming bands today, Qwela and Milege Jazz bands have undoubtedly made their mark with their various sell-out concerts.
But these are just the well-know of the lot. There are many equally talented bands that have regular or intermittent gigs in Ugandaâ€™s popular hot spots. They are doing all right, adequately catering for the demand for musical artistry in bars and restaurants.
These bands have stepped up to the podium to make Ugandans happy and they have a fast growing following of devoted fans. They all typically do cover versions of popular songs â€“ both local and foreign. However, a few write their own songs.
Code 9 is one of these bands. Founded by Chris Ireland, former owner of Alleygators, it consists of, according to Chris, the best of the best in musical talent. Lead vocalist Chris Ireland, accompanied by two ladies with the addition of drums, electronic and a vast array of equipment, produce professional and entertaining work.
They can perform rock and roll, jazz and even a hot African dance to get you onto your feet.
â€œIf we ever feel like we are boring people, we will get off the stage,â€ stated Chris. â€œWe want to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. We are also working on a collaboration with artiste Irene Namubiru. We also invite someone from the audience to sing with us, to involve everybody,â€ he says.
Thursdays find Boda-Boda packed with fans of Code 9, who play there from 8:00-10:00pm. When Code 9 performs, it is difficult to tell who is having more fun â€” them or the audience.
When on stage, this band cannot not stay still and their faces shine with the exuberance of the love they feel for their music.
Barbed Wire Thong is another band that has regular gigs, performing every Monday at Buddies in Ntinda. The management of Buddies confessed that until Barbed Wire Thong showed up, Monday was their worst day in sales. However, all that has changed now.
With band members comprising former and current members of the likes of Blood Brothers and Afrigo Band, you can be sure they heat Buddies up to fever pitch. Having worked with artistes like Isaiah Katumwa and Sarah Ndagire, their experience in entertainment is vast.
They are versatile in their music genres, ranging from Blues to what they call their own special blend of Afro-Pop.
One of their regular fans, Allan Kanyike, who is a property manager in the UK, says: â€œ I live in England, but every time I am in Uganda, I never miss a single Monday night, because Barbed Wire Thong plays my kind of music.â€
They easily play everyoneâ€™s kind of music. The soloist and accompanying singers croon in voices that go from soothing to jiggy without a secondâ€™s notice.
One moment the audience is gently rocking to smooth jazz and the next they are on their feet and indulging in personal displays of their skill in the dance of Lingala.
Lillian and the Sundowners, who recently held a show at the Emin Pasha, are another addition to our fast-growing musical entourage and collaborations.
After wowing the patrons of Emin Pasha with their mix of traditional and modern talent, Ugandans should be hungrily waiting for their next gig.
Zauka is another band that performs at Emin Pasha every Tuesday and shares days with Qwela.
They perform every Thursday. The band is actually comprised of former members of Qwela who broke off to start doing their own thing. Perhaps they realised there was more love to spread around.
Being from Qwela, they have the same style of music and the usual mix of drums, guitars and back-up singers. They provide a comfortable sound to have around you while you enjoy a meal and a drink.
If Bubbles is your favourite pub, patrons should be pleased that there are arrangements for them to enjoy some band music every Wednesday, courtesy of Baxâ€™mba Ways.
It is a true treat to enjoy the sonorous sound of their acoustic guitar, traditional long drums, calabash shakers and the ndingidi (tube fiddle).
Much like Afrigo Band, they are one of the original patrons of band music in Uganda. They started performing at Fat Boys in Kisementi in 2006 and are still going strong. This is just a smattering of the bands rocking Uganda today.
It is, however, a true indication of the growth of Ugandaâ€™s music industry in terms of creativity and innovation. Keep an eye out, take your pick and become a fan!
Grooving to a live sound