(By Kui Gitei) Despite overcast weather and consistent rain two days prior, Nairobians turned up in droves at the Mamba Village to attend the 34th edition of the city’s most popular outdoor concert, Blankets and Wine.
The Sunday December 4th headlined by American Grammy-nominee soul artist Dwele, with supporting acts Kagwe Mungai, Mzungu Kichaa and Kidum, kicked off at 1pm.
Organizers were well prepared for the weather, with tents set up all over the grounds and a main tent that covered the usually open stage, providing scant lighting but a definite intimacy between audience and performers.
First on stage was Kagwe Mungai, who performed his “afro funky” hits from the newly released mix tape, It Only Gets Better, backed by a live band.
At one time, he brought fellow artist Fena on stage, much to the delight of the fans who were trying to wrap their heads around the new kid on the block.
Kagwe then made way for the Denmark-born and Tanzania-based bongo artist, Mzungu Kichaa, who electrified the crowd not just with his guitar skills but dance moves, earning himself a standing ovation.
Mzungu Kichaa, whose real name is Espen Sørensen, was among the first artists, who alongside T.I.D, Juma Nature and Professor Jay made famous the bongo flava style of music. He performed the crowd favourite Nairobi, based on the post-election violence the city experienced in 2007.
True to the clock-time promised by B&W organisers, Dwele took to the stage at around 4.45, a slight departure from the usual programming where the headliner closes the show.
Blankets and Wine founder Muthoni Ndonga explained that since Blankets and Wine is a family friendly event, they wanted to give parents who attended with their children a chance to watch the main act before it got dark.
Dwele, backed by his manager, gave a stellar performance, and almost caused a mini-riot when he went into the crowd to sing to his adoring fans. The hour long performance had the crowd on their feet the entire time, and Muthoni had to call him back on stage for another brief performance prompted by crowd’s chants.
Kidum was the final act on stage, and the Burundian –born artist was a perfect culmination. The crowd sang along to almost every song, especially the popular Haturudi Nyuma featuring Uganda’s Juliana.
The concert wound down just before 9pm, and the official after party continued at Club Volar with the ever-thrilling DJ Andre.
Blankets and Wine celebrate their fourth birthday in November, and founder Muthoni urged the audience and fans to keep supporting them so they can continue bringing even bigger acts. Past Blankets and Wine headliners include Lira, Liquideep, Mafikizolo, TKZEE and Thandiswa Mazwai.
PHOTOS COURTESY PAUL MUNENE OF QUAINT PHOTOGRAPHY