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Raw talent reigns supreme at Pearl Rhythm festival

Michael Kitanda and brother Happy K

Pearl Rhythm festival has always left a mark with its mixture of old and new in terms of artistes’ choice.

In 2014 the show was closed by Jackie Chandiru and last year, it was the legendary Sammy Kasule joined by Moses Matovu and his Afrigo band. Last Saturday it was a totally different feel; Suzan Kerunen and her team decided to flip things by going for mostly a young cast of performers.

With this year’s stage coach artistes, Bantu Clan, Wake, Jaq Dewey and Derrick Komakech, the organisers threw in fairly-established acts such as Myko Ouma, saxophonist Happy K, rap duo Sylvester and Abramz, Baximba Waves, Lilly Kadima and Tabu Flo’s Faizal Ddamba Mostrixx.

You could think they were testing murky waters with that lineup; musically brilliant, but not exactly crowd-pullers, as was later evidenced. By the time performances opened at 5pm, the National theatre grounds were mostly empty with mostly technical guys running. But as time went by, the numbers grew but were still small.

Some blamed it on the double cost of the ticket, while others argued the format and style of music at the festival, as local and Ugandan as they may be, were quite foreign to many.

Also, the festival had divided fans; for instance, Goethe Zetrum was hosting a poetry theatrical show by the Afroman Spice trio; there was an Open Mic Fusion at Design Agenda on Parliament avenue and Albert Sempeke was performing at the Maisha gardens in Buziga.

All these events have the same patronage. But Pearl Rhythm still had a good show on the stage, with performances from experimental acts such as Joshua Kagimu, the Rap Poet, Zoey the Poet and the stage coach artistes.

The two rappers in the stage coach, Wake and Bantu Clan, had great execution. Wake has a background of poetry, which lends well to hip hop. Born Gordons Mugoda, he is a proud Mugwere and it comes off in many of his lyrics in such songs like Omusaija Weka and Tinsobola.

Dewey, mostly known for her daytime job on KFM, was a surprise for many; she pulled off a fantastic performance but fell short on the fact that hers was more digital than organic music.

Like all the performers of the day, she celebrated her, Gish, heritage. Lilly Kadima was amazing with songs including Nyazala and Akuloga that got many on their feet, although the highlight of the night could have been a union between the saxophone brothers Michael Kitanda and Happy K; they played a song they co-wrote and their individual interpretation of the wind instrument is one to envy.

There were also energetic performances by Sylvester and Abramz, Myko Ouma as well as the Baximba Waves.


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