The Greedy Weekend #001: Jameson Connects Zimbabwe, Haus of Gumeni, Purple Rain & The Flame Lily Rock Festival

Welcome to the first edition of The Greedy Weekend! What is the Greedy Weekend you might ask? Well, it's a new column where we discuss and review some of the weekend events, that we would've attended. It really should've been a podcast but you know web hosting is way cheaper than microphones. So here we are with our round-up of the weekend of 2 to 4 November!

The Whiskey Connection

Jameson Connects Zimbabwe is the latest addition to our ever-expanding social calendar. A social event celebrating local music and local cuisine, with art installations, interactive games and of course Jameson. The new global concept of the lifestyle event, by the Irish Whiskey brand, made its debut in Harare on Saturday and what a way it was to start off.

Now I could tell you guys about some lucky guy called Dennis, who got serenaded in a song on stage by Tamy Moyo (To the sprouting of intense jealousy within me because he immediately came to shout "Wandiona here?") or I could tell you about how ExQ's "Sweeter" had never sounded sweeter, but that wouldn't capture the essence of the event. Because if there's anything that made Jameson Connects Zimbabwe what it was, it was simply the atmosphere.

Mokoomba performing on stage at Jameson Connects Zimbabwe 
Image: Twitter/Jimshinky 

It wasn't a small number of people in attendance but it was just enough of us to make it feel special. The Jameson chosen ones. A sold-out event and we weren't packed inside there like a can of Lucky Star pilchards. 

It was my third time watching Tamy Moyo perform and this was certainly the pick of the bunch. What maybe wasn't as striking on the Jacaranda stage, felt a lot more alive at Jameson Connects. Reverb7 who took the stage after her also coloured himself in honour with his set. It was an hour-long display of dexterity on the decks, that balanced just right old favourites with unknown bangers. It was another weekend of the redemption of Harare DJs (see our review of the 8th Edition of the SS Fabrik Party for a fair bit of the redemption that came the weekend before).

The well-travelled and globally renowned band Mokoomba was the surprise act on the lineup and I can only describe their performance as a beautiful experience of music. I'm not saying it was the best thing I've ever seen but there's a certain feeling that comes from experiencing the sound of Soukous performed live. Mokoomba was harmonious and when they finally performed "Nzara Hapana" they had the crowd swaying in motion.

ExQ performing on stage at Jameson Connects Zimbabwe 
Image: Twitter/Jimshinky 

Nutty O equally didn't disappoint. He went through a carefully curated selection of some of his most loved releases and at that point, the entire crowd was on their feet. It's often been said the Jam crowd doesn't like dancing, I guess that doesn't include those who drink Jameson. 

ExQ took over from there and when I expressed how I felt about that performance on Twitter they said I'm too much. So I'll say it was pretty good and probably leave it at that. I think the track selection is what got me the most. It felt like more work from his recent album got to be lived out on stage and as one who appreciates the album Enoch, it was certainly great to see. We also have to hand it to ExQ's dancers, unbelievable waist motion as always from the trio.

In all honesty, though, I think I've seen better from both ExQ and Nutty O. However Jameson Connects Zimbabwe as a whole outweighed the individual performances that made the sum of its parts. The service was great, although the lack of disability access soured the experience in some regard. In the end, the feeling I have says, "I wouldn't miss the next one if I was you".

Side note: I hope Black Label is seeing what other alcoholic beverages are doing for their drinkers. I mean Castle Lager has a festival, Chibuku has a Road To Fame and Jameson is Connecting. The ability to be fluent in English after a few is great, but we can't only get that and hangovers from our favourite beer.

Haus of Gumeni

On Saturday Emagumeni hosted the Haus of Gumeni event, with an incredible lineup that included Madeherbelieve and Ace FRVR. It was slated to start at 12 noon. I came at 2 pm. A grave miscalculation. It was grossly too early and all I did was try to figure out how to kill time between 2 pm and 4 pm, when I was supposed to leave for Purple Rain, at Alliance. And so I present the following findings, from the front lines:
5 Ways to Kill Time Between 2 pm and 4 pm on a Saturday afternoon at Emagumeni
1. No Phone
ZESA-sponsored Vitamin B-attery deficiency meant playing on my phone would only last me about 30 minutes maximum. Coming down from a phone high to staring at a blank table would be worse than never having been online so yes, the first tactic is establishing the rule: no phone.
Estimated time killed (ETK): 2 minutes.
2. Jewellery
If you go out too early and have to kill time between 2 pm and 4 pm on a Saturday afternoon at Emagumeni then wearing accessories is a good call. The more the better. Study the greats: A Pimp Named Slimbag comes to mind. Pull your necklace, and really look at that bracelet. Notice the craft, the detail, the silver peeling off even though it's only been maybe 3 weeks.
ETK: 10 minutes. A wide variety of materials, such as wood, and beads, is recommended.
3. The Menu
Emagumeni’s / The Duncan’s menu reflects a fun mind, with cool colors and cheeky captions. I easily spent 5 minutes admiring the "Grilled Chicken Breast" description, quote: "This is why the chicken crossed the we could get Grilled Chicken Fillet On a Bed of Steamed Vegetables". Spent another 5 debating on what to actually eat.
ETK: 15 minutes max. Mild panic might set in but it's still early. Also, don't look at your watch so often.
4. The Food
Food: chips, chicken and cheese orgy "Loaded Chicken Cheese Fries". It is actually good but then again my palate is embarrassingly underdeveloped.  Do you know who had good taste? The ex I probably shouldn’t think about even though it would probably be Hiroshima the minutes. She had an I-could-blog-about-food-flavors taste. I just had to mess things up. But I shouldn’t think about her, even here.
ETK: 20 minutes.
5. Hey! There are stores here! And a Gallery!
There was an exhibition that opened the night before, menstrual health themed.  The artists' statements reveal that some are as young as 13. 13! A standout is one “Mudiwa”. A painted face woman's eyes are closed as if breathing in the gravitational pull of the moon above her. Everything around the two swirls, in bleeding flux. I can't relate to the pain behind it but it communicates the emotions quite powerfully, wordlessly. I kill a lot of time standing silently in front of it.
Emagumeni has a bunch of stores. Two interesting-to-a-childless-guy-who-doesn't-want-a-haircut were two fashion stores selling clothes I loved but couldn’t afford. Gutu Tich and Haus of Stone. Gutu is trendy and bold.  It's a good graphic designer meets a cool athlete meets a Pan African meets an eagle. Haus of Stone is more a dream meets the colour beige meets comfy fabric meets summer meets a beach resort, barefoot. Both were expensive, but both were worth it.
ETK: 15 minutes.
6. Lamentations
We are in extra time now. AKA Desperate Times. I lament how She would have been so perfect for this. Remember in anguish Her good taste for both food and music. This is also to say the music here is quite entertaining and a pretty good sign of antsy times to come, times of much dancing and celebration. But now, alone on a table of four with an empty plate, is a time of great lamentation. A time to remember She Who Had Good Taste And Was Ridiculously Photogenic. Could probably have killed time just taking photos of her.
ETK: 30 minutes. It's still around 3.30 but once you've brought out the "Ex Nuke" there is nothing else to do. You might as well leave for Alliance. 

Note: In all fairness to Emagumeni though, things there did pick up later.

Remember Remember The Fourth of November
It's dark, save for red green blue lights above the audience and a large screen in front, where Prince's 1994 film "Purple Rain" is showing. As with any film showing there's been chatter and laughter throughout but now everyone is hushed. Next to me, Hupepe predicts we're nearing the climax, where probably the song Purple Rain will be performed. I didn't even know there was a song but seconds later it turns out he's right. The silence deepens. Ahead, onscreen, Prince wields a guitar like a hot knife to our buttery hearts and slices. 

In the first row, behind the computer projecting the film a young man holds up a lighter, sways to the music and sings along in a somewhat croaky voice. His name is Serpant. He is a fan of Prince, so much so that he organized this event, a commemoration of “the greatest musician ever to live”, according to his opening speech. “I might cry”.
I knew next to nothing about Prince before Saturday and didn’t have any clothes fitting the dress code (70s/80s or Prince). Fortunately, Serpant had brought 2 sets of Prince-themed clothes. Outfit number 1, which I ended up wearing, was a sweater with a graphic of a poster for the Purple Rain film. Prince in a purple suit and a frilled white shirt, on a motorbike. Outfit 2 was a purple suit and a frilled white shirt, no motorbike. 

The sheer beauty of seeing Serpent in this suit roll out rock song after rock song, eventually culminating in a heart gripping rendition of Purple Rain was almost too much to take. Other notable outfits were: Idah, a tall girl in a t-shirt with a graphic of a poster for the film Purple Rain and Penny, a tall girl with an assortment of purple; gems, makeup, bangles and an overall Prince-y vibe
Clad in a bandana that had some streaks of purple was Aneunhu who played after the film. Aneunhu has a rapport with the audience the way Prince had a rapport with the guitar. He paused to ask for a number between 1 and 12 (7! 12! 13! 26! 0!), or drop some facts about Prince (how he did things for the artist and not the label). He and piano keys have the type of relationship whose PDA is beautiful to watch. 

On the Thursday before I got lucky enough to witness this affection, together with his bandmates, The Homies, at the Jazz show he holds every Thursday at Old Rock Cafe. Also got to meet some of the homies there, who seem to be regulars now.
On the day before the event, at work, a customer mentioned how he tracks Zimbabwe's rain season and it usually first arrives on November the 5th. In the film "V for Vendetta" the main character wears a Guy Fawkes mask and recites, in memory of the day the anarchist planned to blow up the parliament, "Remember remember the 5th of November". 

For a crowd in the open-air seating of Alliance Francaise, the night to remember was November the 4th and the first rainfall was purple coloured and tear-shaped, down the face of one young fan in a purple suit, holding up a swaying lighter and with a croaky voice singing along to his idol. And maybe, somewhere in that hushed darkness, tears rolled down another face or two.

Flame Lily Rock Festival 

Zimbabwe's nascent rock scene has been making a resurgence in the past years. Sometimes seen as the forgotten sound of Zimbabwe, Rock'n Roll dominated the country in the 70s. It was the sound of a social rebellion as the war of liberation raged on and at the time the community created its own Woodstock.

An event that made national headlines and stomped on racial taboos, uniting fans from all of Zimbabwe's (Rhodesia at the time) ethnic and racial communities. Bands played all-night shows in the townships, flouting police curfews. As the country found freedom the sound was abandoned. In favour of a renaissance of African culture. This saw the birth of the sounds of Chimurenga, yet even the genre's most famous stalwart (Thomas Mapfumo) got his start in rock music.

Prime Circle performing on stage at The Flame Lily Rock Festival 
Image: Melody Chingwaru

So this past weekend it was great to finally see Zimbabwe's first ever Rock Festival. The Flame Lily Rock Festival. An experience I can finally cross off from my wishlist like whoop whoop! Curated by Ngoma neHosho, the festival was held at the spacious Borrowdale Country Club, and rock lovers were in for a treat as artists such as Jonsolo, Bhanda, Jo Black, Josh Ansley, Evicted and the major act Prime Circle belted out songs that tantalized the eardrum. 

I truly loved each of the different acts as each one of them gave me a different window into rock music Evicted got people nostalgic with a rock rendition of Andy Brown’s “Mapurisa”. Josh Ansley hit some beautiful notes as he paid tribute to one of rock music's greats “Queen” when he sang his lungs out to “Bohemian Rhapsody”. 

Ever listened to a musician singing in another language and you still get the essence of their music? That was me when Jo Black came on stage, besides being a huge lover of bearded men *chuckles*, I found myself humming along to Jo Black’s soothing Afrikaans music and it left me pondering on how love is beautiful. 

As the night was getting young, the main act emerged and they rocked the stage. Singing out their distinct rich melodious songs such as “Doors” and “Innocence” amongst others. Every music lover knows that there is that one song which seals the deal at a festival and for me, it was “She Always Gets What She Wants”. 

When Prime Circle sang it away I couldn't help but feel some tugs at my heartstrings. They say "Let the good times roll" and I can testify that we certainly rocked and rolled. It was a debut not to forget. I already can't wait for the second installment because hey I was part of making history at the country's first-ever Rock Festival

Note: From the recent headline performances of the rock bands Chikwata263 and Acid Tears at the SS Fabrik Party, and now it's good the local rock scene rising again.

Greedysouth rating: 8.5/10

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