The Sunday Mail
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DANCEHALL superstar Winky D is frantically trying to come up with a new band after suffering a near exodus of instrumentalists, which saw two members quitting his outfit while two others are on tour with other groups.
One of the instrumentalists who quit, Master Pablo Nakappa, a bass guitarist, originally fronts Pablo and Friends, which had four of its members in Winky D’s outfit.
Nakappa joined Winky D’s band over two years ago with three other players of instruments, Chris Fefini (keyboard), Keith Roberts (lead guitar) and Zealman Munengu (drums), who make up his Pablo and Friends band.
Munengu recently chose to tour with Bongo Luv while Fefini and Roberts are still with the Vigilance Band — at least for now.
Pablo, who leads jazz outfit Pablo and Friends, confirmed the near catastrophe which occurred just after the ZTA Carnival show, which was held at the Harare Gardens in May.
The dreadlocked instrumentalist said he almost walked away with his entire team after a misunderstanding with Winky D’s manager, Jonathan Banda.
“I realised that it would be unfair to drag everyone into my problems with Banda, so my guys and I agreed that whenever I have a gig or need them for some project they would be available,” said Pablo without immediately clarifying the nature of his issues with his former bosses.
Keyboardist McDonald and Jimmy Buzuzi, a guitarist, who also made up the Vigilance Band, are currently on tour with Mokoomba and Bongo Luv respectively.
The tours and desertions have left Winky D’s band massively depleted, causing headaches for the Kambuzumba-based artiste who has had to rehearse overtime to get the “new” band into shape. The near disastrous episode allegedly saw the artiste cancelling some shows and opting to perform more without a band.
The Musarove Big Man singer is said to have been struggling to retain his original sound as he had spent over two years with the members who have deserted him. It is no secret that drums and the bass guitar are essential instruments in reggae and dancehall, and Winky D lost both at the same time. Those in the know say this is some catastrophe. Winky D’s manager, Jonathan Banda, insists, however, that all is well in his camp.
“What has changed are the players of the instruments but the Vigilance Band is still very much in shape. When I started going the live instruments way, people queried that decision, saying it wouldn’t work but look where we are today,” said Banda.
Banda even challenged this writer to follow the band to Gweru. “Come to Gweru on Saturday (yesterday) and see for yourself. The band is not struggling. Struggling is a very strong word plus I don’t think anyone has seen us struggle because a rehearsal is a private space where only Winky, Layan and myself can judge the technical aspects of the band,” he said.
Banda, however, admitted that his artiste’s sound is not easy to master for most instrumentalists.
He said: “Here is what happens musically. Dancehall is digital and that makes it difficult for most players of instruments. Initially I had a band with a foundation of reggae but I realised that my sound had a jazz feel, so I brought in new guys who could deal with that sound.”
Banda also dismissed as falsehoods that he had fallen out with Pablo. “Pablo excused himself due to commitments with his other businesses that he runs on the side. I just took the guy who was playing the bass guitar before him.
“However, he can still come back if he feels comfortable with my conditions because this is someone who has other commitments elsewhere. I think he anticipated problems in the first place and so he did the honourable thing and left.”
Banda, who is known in music circles to be unbendable, said he had come a long way with Pablo to the extent that “when his father died I had to run around raising funds for him because he had no one else”.
However, Pablo, who is an engineer by profession and is a lecturer at the Zimbabwe College of Music, says he left because conditions at the band had deteriorated.
“We did our first show with Winky D at the Big Five and life at the band was fantastic. But of late things were not so good, sometimes we would even have to beg Banda to buy us food while on tour,” claimed Pablo.
He says the tipping point though, was when Banda garnished his pay over an expense he had incurred while on the band’s business.
“After that I just realised that Banda had no real interest in the people that works for him but in his own welfare and that of his artiste. When he no longer wants someone at the band, he does not tell them directly, he frustrates them.”
Pablo also said that the other thing that led to many band members jumping at every opportunity that came their way was because Winky takes very few jobs a year.
Said Pablo: “Winky doesn’t always take jobs so sometimes we could go for a while without any money, but as artistes we need work to generate money. Zealman was offered the touring opportunity by Bongo Luv and he asked me what I thought and I told him it was an opportunity of a lifetime, so he left.”