For the past few years, Fezah, a mobile phone application used to book artistes has been organizing intimate showcases for their artistes.
This in the past saw acts such as Lilian Mbabazi, Naava Grey, Giovani Kiyingi, Sandra Nankoma and Evon among others put on performances for an intimate audience.
Yet like all establishments, Fezah went on holiday towards Christmas and only announced their 2019 programmes at the end of January. On Saturday night, the Johnnie Walker Unplugged with Kenneth Mugabi officially kicked off the performance calendar.
With his 2016 album Kibunomu, Kenneth Mugabi has slowly cemented his position as one of the most respected Neo-soul artistes and his wordplay and ability to play more than an instrument is a bonus.
Armed with an acoustic guitar, he made it to the stage with his make shift session band Kemba, it comprises of singer Sheba Mwiza, Ronnie Bukenya, Lawrence Matovu and Eugene Gum, besides guitarist Aloysius Migadde that was not available, the rest of the band was the same as he had at his concert at the National Theatre towards the end of last year.
Kicking things off with a mix of songs that included those from the old album, singles and those on the new album, the singer had some loyal followers as patrons at the Design Hub where the show was held.
Singing word for word of songs like Musheshe, Neyanziza, Nkwegomba and Amaaso Gotulo among others, they made work easier for the artist who had curated his set list that well.
But it was songs like Kibunomu and Nambi that explored the artiste’s wordplay, chemistry with his band as well as the audience. On songs like Rita, a ballad mostly played on the piano, he was joined by saxophonist Happy Kyazze whose rough style always takes many by surprise yet infectious.
But it was Naki that people were mostly interested in – three years after audiences got introduced to the song during a Qwela Junction performance, it is one of the songs that still engages and gets people dancing.
And of course Mugabi did not disappoint, starting it off with a tube fiddle and later the guitar, he cried out to Naki and the audience did ask for an encore, though it wasn’t meant to happen.
Instead, what they got was a bonus song, Katambala where he was joined by Kyazze but this time, with his young brother Michael Kitanda.
According to Elijah Kitaka, this is the first of the more than 50 shows they have set out to host this year with the next one being a tribute to fallen Zimbabwean artiste Oliver Mtukudzi.