There’s something of an oddity about the periodic music showcase Blankets and Wine whose fifth instalment took place at Kampala’s Uganda Museum last Sunday December 8th. For a city better known for its signature humidity, the thought of carrying a blanket to a daytime entertainment event comes off as an aberration even when the intention is to sit on it. And just how many of our pretentious upper-crust revellers can tell a Chardonnay from a Sauvignon Blanc? Perhaps something along the lines of bikinis, briefs and beer would make better sense for Kampala. Fact is your Kampalan’s palate understands froth better, right down to the alcoholic content percentage precision.
Blankets and Wine ought be restricted to that East African metropolis that birthed it; you know that pretentious little Manhattan where the weather is Manchester grey for the better part of the year hence the need for blankets to thaw the frosty personalities of its folks. Their consumerism and accompanying innate card-swiping culture is the kind you’d find among folks with a genuine palate for [fine] wine.
But semantics aside. Blankets and Wine Kampala ought to serve up music talent on the level of what the monthly Nairobi event offers. Lately our sunny equatorial capital has had to make do with rehashed artistes on the performers bill. Oliver Mtukudzi, Zimbabwe’s biggest music export probably on the scale of what ABBA was to Sweden has been here three times too many; in 2005 courtesy of Alliance Francaise, in 2008 as a headlining act at the inaugural Warid Jazz Festival and in 2011 alongside Kenyan Afro-pop chanteuse Suzanne Owiyo. Not that I have anything personal against “Tuku”, the man who enchanted most with his co-starring role as the brother to a widow out to fight for her hubby’s estate in the advocacy Zimbabwean film Neria.
If Freshlyground (they have far better music than that hideous Shakira 2010 World Cup collabo), Lira (continental urban pop never sounded better), Zahara (now this is one Tracy Chapman incarnate with a turbo voice to boot) et al can perform in Nairobi, why not here? And the excuse about any of those artistes not having a critical mass of fans that can sing say Todi word for word doesn’t. This is the B&W organisers telling us to our faces that what is good for the frosty Nairobi goose is not that good for the warm Kampala gander. Of course there have been efforts to bring Liquideep and Kidum; pure tokenism compared to what Nairobi gets on their more regular monthly rota compared to Kampala’s rather unscheduled offerings. Maybe Naava Grey needed Sunday’s outing to endear herself to our music market six years after her TPF stint, maybe Maurice Kirya needed to market his 10K a piece rolex a la The Sound Cup. Whatever Milege Afro-jazz Band, an outfit suffering diminishing musical returns was doing on the bill of a so-called “haute” music showcase diminishes it further to another of those excuses for Kampalans to soak up the sun at a hefty price tag.
Text: MOSES SERUGO (firstname.lastname@example.org)