Tuku II takes to the stage

tuku_and_son_stageHARARE - Oliver Mtukudzi is on tour with his son, Sam, performing in dingy places he started out as a young musician in the 70s. (Pictured: Tuku and his son, Sam, on stage together)


At Mushandirapamwe in Highfield, Tuku was a fatherly figure as he performed with his son in a show dubbed Perekedza Mwana, a ghetto comeback concept where Tuku retraces his footsteps mainly to those township venues where he started his career in the 70s.

In a series of shows lined up at selected venues countrywide Tuku is introducing his young son Sam, a recorded musician, to the ghettos that gave birth to Zimbabwes superstar. Father and son fired by the same blood!

Tall and relaxed, with a low husky voice, Tuku called for dignity, responsibility and respect among tribes and cultures. His songs judiciously blend styles from across southern Africa and beyond without submerging local traits.

Playing an acoustic set with his son and leading his nine-member band, the Black Spirits, Mtukudzi made the messages dance. His son Sam is mastering his father’s technique, using the syncopated, hop-scotching modal patterns of traditional Zimbabwean music – originally plucked on mbira (thumb piano), now transferred to guitar and keyboard – along with soul-flavoured urban South African styles like mbaqanga.

Tuku’s voice took on a traditionalist quaver or a preacherly fullness, setting up a gospel-like call-and-response with three backup singers while he led his son in strutting dance steps. Performing with his son from the three-chord solidity of mbaqanga songs like “Hear Me Lord” to the dizzying nine-beat Zimbabwean rhythm in “Tsika Dedzu,” the band made slower songs lilt and faster ones fly.

Both Tuku’s and his son’s guitar parts support the songs the way a tightrope carries an aerialist. With the Black Spirits, father and son’s acoustic guitars were tucked into the polyphony of lead guitar and keyboards. Father and son often plucked just sparse arpeggios, yet they were enough. As he meshed syncopations with the congas drummer and traded vocal lines with two female singers, and danced with his son on stage, he generated rhythmic bliss out of thin air.

And it is no doubt that Tuku Music has a successor, his son, Sam.

Post published in: Music

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