Veteran musician Patrick Simakweli was all smiles on Thursday when he had golden jubilee celebrations on the well lit stage of Sounds of Malawi Acoustic Session at Jacaranda Cultural Centre (JCC) in Blantyre.
Simakweli, who has starred with several bands and artists including Mtebeti Wambali Mkandawire in Sounds Pentagon, bemoaned the absence of Arts Council in the country.
His outcry comes barely two weeks after creatives petitioned Parliament lobbying for the National Arts and Heritage Council (Nahec) Bill which, if enacted, would pave the way for the establishment of Nahec.
“I would like to thank God for the gift of life. It has not been easy in the absence of Arts Council. Our friends in other countries are doing well atleast because they have an Arts Council but, here, we have a long way to go. We still do not value and respect culture,” Simakweli, father to Zembani Band leader Sam Smack, said.
at the show, which pulled good patronage, Simakweli told his story through music, journeying with people from where he started to where he is now.
“I like playing in hotels and that is the life that I have lived as a musician. But I am sad because most of the musicians I played with are gone. I have starred for bands like Eagles, Crystal and Sounds Pentagon,” he said.
Featuring Dave Phiri on drums and another veteran Francis Chintembo on bass with him on acoustic guitar, Simakweli treated the audience to the finest of Malawian sounds, some of which were done by artists such as Ndiche Mwalale and Elias Ziphondo.
“Music has connected me with people; that is why it has no boundary. I have learnt other languages including English through music. I am not fluent in English but through music I have been able to teach at St Andrews, University of Malawi and Jacaranda School for Orphans,” he said.
Before he went about the music business that saw him not skipping genres such as jazz and blues because of his experience in performing in hotels, Simakweli opened with ‘Ndizakutamandani’, praising God for the gift of life.
“I do this at every show. God has been faithful to me,” he said.
Host of Sounds of Malawi, Waliko Makhala, said they were happy to celebrate the life of a living legend in Simakweli.
“Most of the times we celebrate our legends when they are gone but we are happy to connect with him as he celebrates his 50th anniversary in music,” Makhala said.
Famed for his bush music, Makhala, who had a stint with Simakweli in Eagles Band recalled that the old-timer used to practice his guitar every morning showing his discipline for his artistry.
Jimmy Lipunga, who recently published an article on Sounds Pentagon and even bought a CD during auction, said he enjoyed the concert.
“Sounds Pentagon used to be a popular rock group and Patrick Simakweli was one of the members and that time he used to play the bass guitar. I wrote about him in my article not knowing he was celebrating 50 years in music. I then decided to be part of it,” Lipunga said.
He described Simakweli and others as artists who were disciplined and sought perfection.
“The current generation of artists lacks discipline in some instances; they need to take time when composing songs and even try to learn different equipments,” Lipunga said.
He also bemoaned lack of support to artists, saying they invest a lot and yet people just burn and share songs.
Musicians Najo and Wachituta got one of the CDs during auction at K60,000.