Good people, I am hearing the Wailing Brothers are gaining ground.
When the band was revived a few months ago, some tongues were already wagging that there was no need to break away from the Black Missionaries.
However, proponents of pluralism and competition will never cease telling you two heads are better than one—even if one is a goat’s head.
When bands disintegrate into splinter groups, the audience is the major winner and the unopposed loser.
Diversity is good and the fans get to hear new perspectives and voices that they rarely encounter when status quo prevails. Unless seeds die, they cannot give birth to a new crop.
But diversification can be costly, very costly for consumers crying for things of both or more worlds.
This is the harsh reality fun-seekers had to endure when the Blacks and the local Wailers ‘clashed’ in Dwangwa, Nkhotakota lately. This was supposed to be a night of pure fun and a memorable payday outing for the fans, but it quickly culminated to a battle of supremacy as one band was out to reconcile with an audience it had disappointed several times and the other drifted to the cane-fields town to establish itself in the open market of live music.
The clash of the two bands in Dwangwa did not only put lovers of reggae in a dilemma. It was a litmus test for the revived Wailers who last visited the shoreline town aboard the Blacks’ bus.
Most importantly, it fuels talks of deep-rooted and widening disagreements that have come to define the mentions of the cousin groups ever since Paul and Takudziwani Chokani announced they were reverting to their boyhood band, the Wailing Brothers.
The country will never know what really shattered the cracked ties in the united music front that was the Blacks for the original Wailing Brothers to go back to their roots.
However, the only certainty in the heated debate over the rifts warping the reggae-singing cousins is that the size of the audience the Wailing Brothers keep attracting—even snatching from their counterpart—tells who really has the vibe.
The Wailers should be the happiest showmakers in town to hear that they passed the crowd-size test on Sunday when they performed before about almost 1 000 at Mzuzu Tourist Lodge where they could only manage no more than 50 heads a few months ago.
It is good to see babies grow. However, babies shall always be babies if they are contented with crawling.
The Wailing Brothers must grow and walk. One thousand is a good number, much bigger than just 50, but it is not good enough.
However, getting big crowds is not all about good marketing. The quality of their goods, the music they churn out, matters more. It is against this background that the rejuvenated Wailing Brother should cast a clinical eye on their main weakness–light-weight vocals.
The Wailing Brothers may be very good at the instruments, the tools that made Paul and Taku irreplaceable parts of the Blacks since 2001, but the thunderous instrumentals are nothing much without equally heartfelt vocals to belt out the greatest lyrics they can fashion.
The Wailing Brothers will not prosper by their famous breakaway alone, but they must prove by way of inimitable action and excellence that the shift from the Blacks was the way to go.
Pull up your vocals! n