Thursday, 28 May 2009

Rise & Shine

I got to know former Bhundu Boy guitarist and band-leader Rise Kagona a little in the last few years. During that period I interviewed him several times, watched him rehearse and play gigs, met him for coffee and often bumped into him at the bus stop.

In 2006 I wrote about his extraordinary travails and those of his former bandmates for the Observer. You can read the feature here, recounting how the Bhundu Boys left Zimbabwe in 1986 and charmed the pants off the likes of John Peel and Andy Kershaw with their super-virile jit music, how they supported Madonna at Wembley Stadium and signed to Warners. The aftermath, however, was shocking and heart-breaking, even by the shoddy standards of the music industry. It remains one of the saddest stories ever told.

Rise is a great guitarist and a very fine chap. He’s currently living in Edinburgh and, despite many set-backs, has continued pursuing his music; lately he's been gigging with old NME stalwart ‘Champion’ Doug Veitch (see photo). The pair are playing a fundraiser for "Friends of Play Soccer Malawi" this Saturday - May 30 - at the Pleasance Cabaret Bar, 60 The Pleasance, in Edinburgh. I’ve seen them a few times and they’re superb value; they always get the crowd going and the occasion is sure to be great fun. You also get to see a genuine world music pioneer in action. You can hear more of Rise and Doug's music here.

As a nod to the cause, the concert will include an auction of various football items: Celtic, Rangers, Hearts and Hibs shirts signed by the team, signed footballs from the same clubs, a Manchester United shirt signed by first team squad and a Carlos Tevez shirt, lovingly signed by the gentle hand of the Argentinian man-bull himself. Pretty impressive. Doug is running the Edinburgh Marathon the following day, May 31, also in aid of "Friends of Play Soccer Malawi".

I know any support would be well deserved and hugely appreciated.

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