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Sand Music Festival sets off

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The magnificent three-day Sand Music Festival, which is in its eighth edition, kicked off on Friday at Sunbird Livingstonia in Salima on a windy night.

A cast of Malawi’s best kicked off the festival which is expected to feature acts by Zimbabwean Ammara Brown, Kenyatta Hill, who arrived on Wednesday, and other international artists.

The Jamaican, son to reggae maestro Joseph Hill, was expected to come with Andrew Tosh, son to another reggae icon Peter Tosh, but he did not make it due to illness, the organisers said.

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Annemarie Quinn, Code Sangala, Lulu, Piksy, Wendy Harawa, Positive Yut, Nepman, Sam Smack and Zimbabwe’s DJ Stavo opened the festival.

One of the artists, who stood out on the first day of the festival, was Atoti Manje, who was performing at Sand Music Festival for the first time.

He was lively throughout and with his band offered the best of traditional sound that kept people on the dance floor.

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“This is my first time to perform at the Sand Music Festival and I would like to thank the organisers for giving me a chance. It feels great to perform at such a big platform,” Atoti Manje, said.

He said later in an interview that performing at such platforms has challenged him to do more hence putting together a band.

The main stage was the center piece hosting most of the performances into the early hours of Saturday.

The other stage perched close to the beach bar was active with DJs giving it their all but patronage was low. Revelers wanted live bands.

When the festival started, patronage was very low but grew into the night as many people travelling from Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu started arriving.

The organisers, Impakt Events, led by popular musician Soldier Lucius Banda have this year partnered Team Entertainers after a two-year break.

Team Entertainers showed their best by mounting the Booster stage that looked presentable with a red carpet on it where artists had it easy in terms of movement and interaction with the audience.

It also showed on the night that Team Entertainers had done well in terms of stage lighting and deco.

The audience saw the best of dazzling lights and smoke and the sound was also faultless.

This year music was prompt. A marked improvement was seen, no prolonged sound checks, which have affected previous shows.

On Friday night, the music was flawless, uninterrupted.

The organisers improved in many aspects on the first day including on entry which has always been an annoying feature in the past.

Scheduling was also superb, another noticeable improvement this year.

The MCs, which included Super DT, Luna and DJ Goxy, tried their best not to offer boring moments on stage and were quick in bringing acts on stage as well as controlling artists’ sets.

Artists, who were billed to feature on the first day performed as scheduled except for Zimbabwean musician Ammara Brown.

According to Lucius, who filled Ammara’s place, the Zimbabwean musician, who was expected to arrive on Thursday, arrived late on Friday hence could not perform as she was tired.

“Ammara Brown has just arrived an hour ago so she is tired and cannot give out her best so she will perform tomorrow (Saturday) and I will take her place,” Lucius told the audience in the early hours of Saturday.

The ‘Mabala’ star, who with Zembani Band gave the audience a treat, was supposed to perform on Saturday alongside Jamaican musician Kenyatta Hill.

“It will all be a good package on Saturday so apologies for this change but Ammara Brown is in and that is why I came in personally to apologise before the performance,” he said soon after he had offered the track ‘Nthawi’.

Some people, however, were disappointed with the change having waited for a long time for the Zimbabwean musician.

“I am okay with it but they could have communicated the information in time rather than coming in late after we had waited for long. The MCs could have surely done that,” Esther Kamunga, a Blantyre resident said.

DJ Stavo also offered a razor sharp set on the night showing his skills on the deck as he dropped several songs.

He stayed on stage for some time before he paved way for Lucius.

The festival proved its worth in attracting people from different places as some fans had travelled all the way from Zambia and Europe.

“I am from Germany; this is my first time to be here at the Sand Music Festival. I have been to the Lake of Stars twice. I have enjoyed the acts,” said the German, who only identified himself as John as he sipped his Carlsberg beer.

In between the performances on the night, people also treated themselves to different foods prepared by among others, Sunbird Livingstonia as well as beers and soft drinks.

Some people also made sure they made a kill out of the festival by selling different artworks while others who could not afford to stay inside the venue, planted their stalls outside.

With Sunbird Livingstonia doing rehabilitation works on their rooms, accommodation was difficult as a few managed to get the rooms while others made way to other lodges nearby.

For some they used tents for accommodation.

As we went to press on Saturday, people were looking ahead to the performances of Kenyatta Hill, Ammara Brown, Zambian acts as well as local artists such as Black Missionaries and Lulu.

And today has been dedicated to gospel music which will feature artists such as Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango, Miracle Chinga Moffat. Steve Spesho, Ethel Kamwendo Banda, Great Angels Choir, Marvelous Deeds and Daughters Band.

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