By Sam Banda Jnr:
It has been a long time since musician Kenny Gilmore left the country as he has been travelling all over the world.
Now based in Brazil, Gilmore, who is a Harmonica player, singer and song writer, said on Saturday that, despite being out, he loves the country, hence making a bold decision to launch his first ever book Harmonica Diaries at Jacaranda Cultural Centre (JCC) in Blantyre.
Gilmore, who made headlines with Sangalala Band having released afro-pop hits ‘Ngati Mafunde’ in 2005 and ‘Malawian Queen’ in 2006, rekindled memories of his past exploits.
The audience could have been much better, but he still managed to attract enough to enjoy the night which started with the launch of the book before performances.
The launch delayed starting but this did not disappoint the audience.
As a headliner, Gilmore opened the night reading an extract from Harmonica Diaries where he read more on when he was coming to Malawi.
In the extract, he also tells it all on his music experiences and some of the very first artists he met including bassist Felix Jere before Sangalala Band was born.
Harmonica Diaries is a book where Gilmore not only talks about his Malawi experience but also his experience in other countries.
“Following long stints in Malawi, London, Portugal and El Salvador, I have cultivated an ambition to push the boundaries of traditional harmonica-playing to include not only blues, but blues rock, jazz, reggae, latin and African music,” he said.
In 2013 after some unfortunate navigational choices Gilmore became lost in the Andes in Bolivia and swore to himself that if ever he made it out, he would write a book about his experiences and Hamornica Diaries is the result.
Some of the people who patronised the launch and got copies of the book include activist Rafiq Hajat, Jacaranda Foundation Executive Director Luc Deschamps and journalist Mzati Nkolokosa.
Before the performances started, Gilmore also took time out to sign autographs.
The performances on the night offered a diversity of sounds that had people paying attention until to the end.
Rick Deja, who has worked with Malawian acts and did a research on music in Southern Africa as a Fulbright Fellow and is currently a lecturer at University of Cape Town in South Africa, showed his skills playing the saxophone.
He blew it with much ease and, before that, also played the guitar reminding people of songs done by the late Daniel Kachamba.
Deja was, however, not that good on the guitar but was very good on the saxophone.
He also collaborated with ethno-musician Waliko Makhala and Gilmore.
Code Sangala also had his share during the show, offering songs such as ‘Chitsotso’ which will be part of his new album titled Mizu.
But the climax of it all was when Gilmore invited to the stage Code, Waliko, Anthony Supriano, Deja and Manyozo Tchado to perform the song ‘Ngati Mafunde’.
It was a perfect moment as Gilmore conquered the audience by saving the best for the last and he came out brighter with his harmonica before also taking time to show his dance moves, with some fans joining him on the dance floor.
“It was amazing, I have never done a book launch before, it was the first time. I am convinced I am going to be a writer and a musician. I want to take the to the world. I could have done it in other countries, but my roots are in Malawi, hence launching it here,” Gilmore said.
He also said it was good as well to perform with the likes of Code Sangala, Waliko and Deja.
“It is encouraging for me to come back and link up with Malawian acts and I will keep doing it to push Malawi music. I will be coming back to Malawi more often now and, again, I want to make an album,” he said.
The ever-smiling Gilmore, who leaves on Wednesday, said he is going to write another book where he will also write more about Malawi.