A musical delight under African sun

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Revellers bring their blankets and cooler boxes and hire chairs or bean bags

Christopher Farai Charamba Travelling Toes
Music is a language, a universal one that connects people from different backgrounds, ages and places.

World over people come together to celebrate with music through concerts and festivals from live performances with large bands to small intimate acapella and acoustic gatherings.

Unplugged Zimbabwe is one local event that promotes music and fellowship in a family friendly environment and is guaranteed

The brainchild of Chiedza Danha and Ellinah Chipumha Unplugged started in 2012. The two said they were bored one Sunday afternoon and really wanted a place to go where they could sit back during the day and listen to live music.

Lacking in options, they decided on a whim to cater to their needs by hosting their own event. They went online, looked up what other people were doing, found what they thought was feasible and Unplugged was born.

“Unplugged is about the coming together of people, predominately young but to be fair people of all ages in a safe environment, not pretentious, chilled, easy, laidback around music, particularly local music

“That’s the consumer side of Unplugged but the supply side of Unplugged is actually the talent itself. What we have tried to do is provide a stage where people can come and share their craft,” said Chiedza

An outdoor event hosted once a month or so, Unplugged allows patrons to bring in their own food and drinks, creating an open-air picnic environment for friends and family.

The event has been hosted at different venues around Harare including Tree Tops, Raintree, CFX Sports Club, Wingate Golf Club and Borrowdale Race Course.

A number of local artistes upcoming and established have graced the Unplugged to showcase the wealth and depth of musical talent that Zimbabwe has to offer.

Musicians such as Tamy Moyo, Vee Mukarati, Sylent Nqo, Takura, Shingi Mangoma, Ammara Brown, Tehn Diamond, Victor K, Macy & The Red, Mussa Effect and household names like Oliver Mtukudzi, Jah Prayzah and Winky Da have also staged perfomances at Unplugged.

“In the beginning Book Café helped a lot. We used to go there and search for talent because it was the only platform upcoming talent had to showcase their skills,” Ellinah explained.

“As Unplugged grew and people got to know about it, people now started to contact us. They would us emails and their music and we picked from there.

“It’s an interesting experience in that some of our favourite artistes are people that we saw at Book Café,” Chiedza added.

“Sylent Nqo is an example. He was performing at Book Café when he was 19 years old and had just finished at Churchill. We saw him play and said this is amazing.”

Starting at 2pm on a Saturday or a Sunday, the event is very relaxed during the day. Revellers bring their blankets and cooler boxes, they hire chairs or bean bags and find a spot to make their own.

As people bask in the afternoon sun the musicians pull at strings, bang on drums, hit the keys and sing beautiful melodies to regale the gathered crowd.

On the side lines accredited vendors sell their different wares, from food and drinks to clothes and instant pictures.

“There are different types of vendors who come to Unplugged, food vendors, non-food vendors and what we call marketing opportunities,” Ellinah said.

“A lot of the vendors have done really well, we have one a lady called Trinity, who opened a restaurant called Chicken Basket, on the back of Unplugged, she actually told us that if it wasn’t for us she wouldn’t be where she is today.”

As the day progresses and the sun begins to set, the vibe and atmosphere becomes a lot more festive. By this time a crowd of some 1 500 people would have gathered all sharing in the alfresco musical experience.

This is usually when the headline act comes on stage and the crowd moves closer to capture the sounds and move rhythmically to the music.

After the main act Unplugged becomes a full party with fan favourite DJ Reverb 7 hopping on the decks to deliver an hour long set that has the revellers on their dancing feet till the last beat.

The event comes to a close at around 9pm and by that time most would have had their full of good food and great music.

Thus far all the editions of Unplugged have been held in Harare with the next one taking place at Wingate Golf Club on Saturday August 26, 2017.

With the growth of the event though, this year Chiedza and Ellinah take Unplugged to Bulawayo on September 2.

The two have grand plans this premier outdoor event they have built and plan to expand it both nationally and internationally.

Unplugged Zimbabwe is definitely here to stay and the best place for those who Love.Live.Music!

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