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Jam Sessions grow from strength to strength

During my teenage years, I made it a point to go to the movies every Sunday afternoon after church. One Sunday afternoon, I watched the film Arabian Nights with lots of excitement. That was the first time I had watched a movie full of romance. The memories are still vivid in my mind up to this day. To give you an insight, the film was full of mischief, valour, ribaldry and romance.

in the groove with Fred Zindi

The movie Arabian Nights has enthralled film goers for centuries. Briefly, it extricates the complex tales that saved the life of Shahrazad, whose husband, the king, executed each of his wives after a single night of marriage and romance. Beginning an enchanting story each evening, Shahrazad always withheld the ending: A thousand and one nights later, her life was spared forever. That was Arabian Nights.

Not to be outdone by what seems to be age old antics of wooing audiences of cinema, Mathias Bangure, the events manager at City Sports Bar working under Devine Assignments, has come up with the theme Afribbean Reggae Nights, which stems from the Monday night Jam Sessions Mafaro Chete where he claims every day is like a Friday. Dubbed KaMonday Kanenge Friday, the City Sports Bar’s Monday jam sessions have become popular among the young and old.

The jam sessions began in January with four acts performing in one night. This has now increased to 10 acts per night as more and more musicians come to participate.

Notable acts who have passed through the jam sessions at City Sports Bar include Hosiah Chipanga, Nicholas Zakaria, Peter Moyo, Elijah Madzikatire, Jeys Marabini, Sandra Ndebele, Guluva 7, Mzoe, Albert Nyathi, Ammara Brown, Tariro ne Gitare, Dino Mudondo, Tendai Chidarikire and more recently, Patrick Mukwamba.

The jam sessions have now attracted musicians who are in their retirement who have been persuaded to come out of their retirement and showcase their yesteryear talents.

Commenting on the recent performance by Mukwamba of the Wapenga Nayo Bonus fame, Bangure had this to say: “I don’t know why Mukwamba is wasting his precious time in Rusape. The people at City Sports Bar loved him as he took all of us down memory lane with songs like Adiwa Usamuzvonde, Tonosangana Ikoko and Wapenga Nayo Bonus. If he relocates to Harare, he will make lots of money through live gigs.”

With their growth in popularity, Divine Assignments have seen it wise to have the jam sessions not only happening in Harare. They have also exported the concept to Bulawayo where they are being held every Wednesday at the Cecil Hotel where both the young and old go to showcase their talents.

Meanwhile, Bangure has come up with another concept in Harare that features different genres each night.

He has decided to host reggae artists every Thursday night under the theme Afribbean Reggae Nights, a concept which I suspect was drawn from Arabian Nights. Last Thursday, City Sports Bar hosted Transit Crew, House of Stone, Hotta Fyre Band, Ras Caleb, Cello Culture and Redemption Sound System. According to Bangure, every Thursday is going to become a reggae night.

Possible future acts to be invited at the jam sessions on Mondays include The Frontline Kids, Isaac Chirwa, Zexie Manatsa, Cool Crooners, Philip Svosve, Robert Moore, Alick Macheso, Mechanic Manyeruke, Ernest Tanga wekwa Sando, Mokoomba, Steve Makoni, John “Chibhodhoro” Myambo, Bothwell Nyamhondera, William Kashiri, Friday Mbirimi, Peter Mparutsa, Gibson Mandishona, Herbert Murerwa, Christopher Timbe, Brian Rusike, Moses Kabubi, Bob Nyabinde, Roger Hukuimwe, Solomon Chiweshe, Charles Charamba, Olivia Charamba, Jeys Marabini and Cde Chinx.

Some of the yester-year artists mentioned above should certainly take patrons down memory lane.

It seems City Sports Bar is the place for musicians to hang out every weekday beginning Monday as Divine Assignments prefer to call their sessions Ka Monday Kanenge Friday. Judging from the crowds I witnessed there last Monday, one would not think that these people were going out to work the next day.

Yes, City Sports Bar is located downtown Kaguvi Street in Harare. A lot of people are apprehensive about getting their entertainment from downtown compared to their preference for northern suburbian night clubs because they do not want to be associated with the roiling parade of stumblebums and addicts on the sidewalks among ruined buildings. Even I was initially apprehensive about being seen in downtown Kaguvi Street, but once I attended my first jam session, all my fears were allayed. As I said to Biggie Chinoperekwei of Devine Assignments, this bar meets world standards. It compares well with London’s Ronnie Scott’s Nite Club or New York City’s Cotton Club. Once you are in it, you feel the five-star surroundings and the inviting environment it brings. Chinoperekwei thought I was joking but as someone who has had experience in those clubs, I really meant it.

It is the outside surroundings which need to improve. You feel disgust or perhaps pity or anger and frustration that the efforts of the police, government and a multitude of social welfare agencies encamped around Kaguvi Street and Queen’s Hotel have, for decades, had no effect on the obvious problems you see; that this festering sore in the heart of Harare continues to be a sinkhole to hundreds of millions of your tax dollars.

However, at City Sports Bar, one should expect a wild evening of challenging jam sessions and improvisations from an eclectic mix of singers, instrumentalists and producers.

It’s a place to witness artistic creativity and be creative without feeling intimidated.

I can’t wait for my favourite band, Mokoomba to take to the City Sports Bar stage in the near future. I will definitely be there.
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