AFTER thrilling fans at the recent Chimanimani Arts Festival, the musical group Bongo Love will embark on a four-month tour of the USA starting on May 18.
The tour will take the group to Boston, Washington State, New York, and Boulder, Colorado where it will conduct music and dance workshops.
The group will perform their first show on May 18 at Needham in Massachusetts – a concert organised by Plugged Inn, who are also facilitators of the tour.
Plugged Inn organised a three-day concert for the group at Madison Square Garden to an audience of about 20 000 people per night in July last year.
Band leader John Mambira said the tour was a confirmation of the growing audience the group has in the US.
“We are building an audience that appreciates our music. A lot of people want to hear more and each time we visit we keep on building from where we left the previous year,” said Mambira.
Band manager, Hannah Wahl confirmed that the classes to be conducted by the group in the US are fully booked.
“People look forward to learning more about Zimbabwean music. Our workshops will look at how to use marimba, mbira and Zimbabwean traditional dance,” said Mambira.
Mambira says the group will launch its second album Rwendo Rwedu in Boston towards the end of May.
The nine track album features songs such as Africa, Kuonana and a remix of the hit song Ndasara ndega which became an instant hit with audiences in Zimbabwe and the US.
However, in the new album, Ndasara Ndega has been done in Afrocoustics with no guitars to provide an exotic musical taste that makes the remix far much cosier than the original beat.
“The new album was recorded and mixed in Seattle during the group’s tour in the US in 2007,” says Mambira.
Bongo Love was formed in Bulawayo by John Mambira, who still heads the band and Nhlanhla Ngwenya who has now moved to the UK to work on a drumming project.
With John playing drums and providing lead vocals, Themba Mawoko was recruited for the lead marimba, Trymore Jombo for mbira and Mpho Mambira for the baritone marimba.
Afro-coustics is a unique combination of styles delivered on traditional Zimbabwean instruments with lyrics in English, Shona and Ndebele.
Since moving to Harare from Bulawayo in 2005, the fabulous quad has gone from playing mostly private functions to performing in some very popular clubs in Zimbabwe’s capital, putting on a stellar show every time and winning over big audiences.
In 2006, the group was invited to participate in several Music Crossroads competitions in Zimbabwe and Mozambique where they wowed the judges and received invites to perform in Sweden as well as the Dominican Republic.
On their way to Santa Domingo for the African Caribbean Pacific festival, they stopped off in Boston to play at a charity show for victims of Hurricane Katrina and took part in a Plugged Inn cultural exchange programme.