Afro-fusion takes on whole new meaning at B&W

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“Everyone thinks they’re tall until they stand next to a Sudanese national”. Those were words spoken by keyboard maestro Aaron Rimbui after spending three days with South African musician Claire Philips and her talented band.

Aaron and Claire ushered in a brand new concept called the Mash-Up at this weekend’s Blankets and Wine musical ‘hungama’ where they merged each other’s tracks to produce a whole new sound.

After a performance by Inka, the duo took to the stage with their respective bands for a jazz infusion that was as professional as they come.

“We practiced for two days and that’s how I was able to play her music. It was amazing. I think this mash-up was a good idea. I learnt a lot from it. The energy, the sheer talent; it was very refreshing!” Aaron told Capital Lifestyle.

Claire, whose burly exterior masks her exquisite husky voice, shocked the crowd by getting off the stage to serenade those present. She walked round a few tents, singing her heart out, much to the delight of revelers.

After some hefty applause, former Tusker Project Fame contestant Wendy Kimani was next up on the podium. Her mash-up was an introduction to an even more creative collabo between Jackson the saxophonist, the Electrique DJs and the Beat Parade band. The resulting feel was a mix-up of jazz, salsa, and house music; like an evolved version of South African house.

In true unplugged fashion, these mash-ups created a new music feel, which the Blankets and Wine management say they intend to package and sell the fresh infusions.

“With this first one, we’re testing output, but definitely if all goes well we shall sell them,” said head honcho Muthoni the Drummer Queen.

Turnout was not as near-bloated as usual because of an event loaded calendar for Nairobians, however those who missed out are likely to make their way to Mombasa for the Easter edition at Nyali Beach Hotel.

Anto Neosoul, Atemi, Chris Adwar, The Itch and Nyota Ndogo are performing on the Sunday show, where the genre is predominantly Afro-fusion. The Electrique DJs and the Beat Parade will also be there.

The after-party will not be at Volar, however, but at the hotel itself.

Regarding the mash-up, the audience at Mamba village had mixed reactions. One reveler complained that it was too jazzy, but others felt that the music offered was the best ever since Blankets and Wine’s inauguration.

“It’s a deadly concept. This music for me was the best. I think we should see more mash-ups in future. True story,” expressed another festival fan.

Head of Marketing and Communications for B&W Sandra Chege says the musical kachumbari is here to stay.

“We are very committed to the mash-ups. We feel it is important and interesting for African artists to explore each other’s music in that way and create fresh sounds. Not every Blankets and Wine will be a mash-up, but it will most definitely be a regular feature,” she said.

“We wanted to see if it could work logistically and now that we’ve seen it has, we are planning to have special editions for these mash-ups.”

Several party-goers are likely to travel to Mombasa for B&W this upcoming long Easter weekend, among one or two other beach parties. Advance tickets to Blankets are Sh1,300 while at the door you will have to cough up Sh1,500.

(Photographs by PAUL MUNENE. You can check out more pictures here).

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