By Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo
OVER the weekend, I was present at two major events, MTN Music Festival and WorlaFest by Worlasi, which came off at the Accra International Conference Centre and Alliance Francaise respectively.
The shows were well organised and patrons had fun, however, for me, it was not the patrons or the main artistes on the bill that made it such an enthralling moment on both nights; it was the supporting bands.
I got to know that the Senku Band backed the headline artiste, Worlasi and every other artiste on the bill, thanks to the fact that their name was splashed on the stage for every patron to see, plus the fact that their name was mentioned consistently by some of the artistes.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the MTN Music Festival, where the band that played for almost every act except Amakye Dede, was not mentioned and not recognised.
I waited with bated breath for at least, the MC or one of the artistes to mention the guys who were doing marvellously in making them (artistes) look and sound good on stage but I exited the venue in disappointment, unhappy with what I witnessed.
That is the reason for this piece!
Bands are the fulcrum
Music bands have existed for a very long time and have remained relevant. Aside supporting major artistes over the years, bands are artistes on their own; they produce albums, tour, sign endorsement deals and engage in every other music-related project just like individual acts.
Music bands have been pivotal in the careers of artistes – aiding them in various live recordings, making of albums and most importantly, assisting them on tour and in live concerts.
For live concerts, the most critical element is the band. If they are wacky, the performance becomes screwy too, regardless of how good the artiste is. When the band is good, stagecraft, coordination, showmanship and every other characteristic of a good live performance would be fine. In essence, the music bands make the artistes look good on that stage.
Lack of recognition
The lack of acknowledgment for music bands was not the case some years ago. In fact, years ago, having a music band and telling the world which band it was, was such a big deal.
Then, the musicians recognised the role these bandsmen played in their blossoming careers and were always ready to share the spotlight with them.
There was Nana Kwame Ampadu and the African Brothers Int. Band, Senior Eddie Donkor and The International Band of Ghana, Amakye Dede and the Apollo High Kings, Obuoba J. A. Adofo and City Boys Band, Jewel Ackah and the Butterfly 6 and many others.
Now, technology seems to have dulled the shine of music bands considering the fact that artistes now spend more time on the computer with producers perfecting a beat instead of rehearsing with a band.
That notwithstanding, music bands are still relevant and crucial for these acts when they want to prove a point with live performances, when they want to organize live recording sessions and produce albums live.
Interestingly, the old ‘guns’ are still appreciative of the music band, so, a Gyedu Blay Ambolley is touring Europe and is more than willing to announce to the world he is touring with his Sekondi Band and a Pat Thomas is not afraid to post his Kwashibu Band at the biggest music outdoor concert, Glastonbury.
They need the spotlight too
Music bands still exist; they produce albums, they assist in live recordings, they tour and aid artistes in live performances. What they lack is the attention! They do not have the same mileage the likes of Western Diamonds, Marriots, Golden Nuggets, Ozimzim, Zappers and other bands had some years ago.
We now have the likes of Patch Bay, Afroharmony, PL Crew, Sankofa Band, FRA, Kyekyeku & Ghanalogue Highlife, Della Hayes & Women of Colour Band and many others.
These Bands are grinding everyday – doing what is expected of them as musicians, but for some reasons, they are not getting the necessary mention and projection.
They have products to sell too, which is the music and they sure need the platform; from the airwaves, the newspaper and magazine covers and pages to the blogs and the event promoters.
We ought to do better
After leaving the MTN Music Festival without knowing the Band that played almost the entire night, I had to ask around to know it was Dan Grahl and the Hy-Skul Band. The event organiser did not project the name of the band to the audience for the entire duration of the event. The MC failed to mention them and the various artistes that were supported beautifully did not give them any shout-outs.
It doesn’t end there; every other commentator that passed commentary on the event after, also did not mention the band. That’s where the problem is, we have not done enough for these guys.
Firstly, these bands must figure out a way to sell themselves. It is mandatory for them to market and project themselves in any way possible.
You can’t perform creditably at an event and not leave a simple name in the minds of the audience, which is likely to include other event promoters and investors.
The artistes must also learn from the legends, appreciate the bands enough to share the spotlight.
Lastly, the media must do its bit in projecting these bands; promote their gigs, their albums and the tours they embark on – both locally and internationally. They matter too!