It was a normal Friday which offers an opportunity to all those who have been working hard throughout the week to unwind and relax. On this particular day, HS WineHouse was the place to be as a jazz performance was on the menu. Just by the number of vehicles parked outside the venue, one could tell that something special was cooking.
Inside, the place was already fully packed by 8pm with patrons drinking and chatting loudly waiting for the music to start. And at 8.15pm the sound checks started with a gospel track in the background.
As the night went on, the master of ceremonies Juliet Royo announced that the owner of the place Wilkins Mijiga and his wife were celebrating their 16th wedding anniversary.
To celebrate the achievement, she called upon patrons to go in front and perform the famous love song Malaika.
But it was Mijiga himself who offered to sing the song.
“Malaika timaidziwa,” he said in his husky voice.
A lady who claimed to be his sister Gwen Sauti-Phiri, former managing director of Malawi Distilleries Limited, joined him on stage and helped him perform the song to the amazement of many.
But it was when the main toast of the day TJ, real name Tujaliwe Lemesi, and the Spare Fingers Jazz duo took charge of things that the place became alive.
“Hello everyone, welcome to our performance tonight. I hope I live up to your expectations,” said TJ in her opening remarks.
With a simple set of two guitars, lead and bass, she then went on to introduce her first song before going into her next song titled Monalisa.
“This song takes me into an imaginary world, where I sit next to a beautiful woman called Monalisa. She is broken-hearted and I ask her to tell me her story,” said TJ.
She went on to perform four more songs namely Girl from Epanem, Guantanamela, Cocovado and I Love You for Sentimental Reasons, before taking her first break.
Throughout their performance TJ and the Spare Fingers exhibited pure talent and stage disclipine which impressed patrons.
TJ interacted with the patrons by inviting them to sing along with her, a thing which patrons did cheerfully.
“Malawi has talent. I am glad we have these foreigners here tonight. They will now know that jazz in Malawi is deep and great,” said a patron who only identified himself as Williams.
In between the performances, members of the Blantyre Music Club, whose base is at HHI Secondary School, took turns to show their talents in playing the guitar as well as vocals.
At the end of the performances, one of the directors of HS Winehouse Nkhwachi Mhango said they decided to host the jazz event bearing in mind that music fans are confined to the same kind of entertainment.
“Jazz as a genre has a huge following. But in most cases these artists are not given a chance to shine. I am glad we had this successful and interactive jazz session where artists and fans enjoyed themselves alike,” he said.
But one thing was for sure, it was clear from the beginning that jazz was the toast of the day.
The only glitches were the constant disturbances from the technical guys who kept on doing their work while the performances were in motion.
At times, the sound checks clearly disturbed TJ and the Spare Fingers who nevertheless continued with their performances. n