Friday March 14 2014

Local drums, piano marry

James Ssewakiryanga plays both Western and

James Ssewakiryanga plays both Western and local drums during one of the the band’s performances at Club Venom Beach Bar. PHOTO by Michael kakumirizi 

By Abdulaziizi K. Tumusiime

The venue is Club Venom beach bar, located in Kabalagala, a Kampala city suburb. The ambience is fantastic. The audience is animated. They are listening and dancing to John Legend’s loveable ballad, All Of Me. The song is not playing from a CD. No. It is the work of a seven-man band.
Legend may have used instruments like a piano and keyboard to produce his track. These men are using the same but, along with local instruments like the akogo, adungu, endingidi and traditional drums.

Indeed the feel of the song is different from the one we are familiar with. It is unique and nice. The ululating and clapping by the audience is testament to this. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Janzi Band; An Afro–fusion band.

After “killing it” with John Legend’s ballad, the band plays other tracks like P Square’s Personally and Bob Marley’s Lion of Zion. They then take the audience down memory lane by playing tracks like; Ewaka and Ekirya Omulangirato to which folk in the audience sing along, word by word of the lyrics.

The smiley faces worn by the band members may lie to one that the industry is one that is challenge free.

“Bands struggle to grow because of absence of sponsors. Some do not have equipment. Others do not have places to rehearse from,” Janzi Band founder James Ssewakiryanga says.

Janzi was a finalist in last year’s competition dubbed “The last band standing”.
The journey has been a long one, as the founder says, but he has hope of achieving the band’s goal of making the local instruments popular.