Mtawale: The unsung Zamrock guitarist
Published On February 7, 2014 » 4245 Views» By Diran Chama » Entertainment, Music
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ZAM ROCKERSURPRISINGLY, he became Paul Ngozi’s favourite guitarist and made use of him wherever his band was performing.
Had it not for his death, the Ngozi Family Band’s music perhaps could have taken a higher dimension.
For many Zamrock fans, the name Jerrold Mtawale could not mean much, but his guitar exploits, was a marvel to the late Ngozi who brought him to his band to just to watch his guitar wizardly.
Mtawale, a former Evelyn Hone student, is not new to Zamrock having intensified his music in the early 1970s when he was in secondary school at Kantanshi in Mufulira.
His motivation was a number of songs he heard from hard rock bands such as Grand Funk, Santana, Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix and Black Sabbath.
“Of course I loved Carlos Santana very much including others like Deep, Purple, Grand Funk and Jimi Hendrix. These inspired me alot,” Mtawale said.
During his early days as a musician, he formed a band called Carlos Santana which also had Sky Banda, now a renowned Pastor at Maranatha Church in Kitwe on bass guitar, while Mtawale took care of the lead.
“Carlos Santana Band had five members but you know, it was a long time ago when I formed the band and I can’t remember the rest of the members,” he said.
He was also a fan of Rikki Ililonga in whose band he played and also performed with the Witch and Peace, before he met Paul Ngozi in 1976.
Mtawale, a Radiologist who also trained in Japan and is residing in Kabwe, had an interaction with this country’s best Zamrock musicians with whom he played music and exchanged ideas.
“I approached Paul Ngozi at one of his shows in Lusaka and told him about my intentions to play in his band. Paul did make a follow up the next day and came to UTH where I was then on industrial practice and that is how I started playing in that band.” he said.
Mtawale later met Ngozi and after listening to his guitar works, he was allowed to play in the band each time the veteran musician took a break.
“Paul really loved my guitar works and I played in the band each time he went on break and I could remain with Chris Zebby Tembo on drums and Tommy Mwale on bass, to continue with the music,” Mtawale explained.
The Ngozi family band also offered to back him on the album he was working on but that, his death(Paul’s) made things un workable and had to wait a little longer to release his debut album called Basop Revolution in 2008.
The album was released under the Sunshine record label.
Tembenukani, is his second album.
The Basop Revolution album is a fusion of Zamrock and reggae and had a great impact on the local radio airwaves.
The album had songs like African Children, Basopo, Kenneth Kaunda, Matenda, African Chant, Ningo Lila and Ubwalwa.
He also played in the majestyk band which had John Masekela on bass, Hemmo Chibesa (rhythm),
Asked about some of the best Zamrock musicians, Mtawale paused and said: “I think Rikki, Hector Sithole and Ngozi were some of my favourite musicians”.
On Zambian music, the 57-year-old musician laughed it off saying, there was nothing to talk about in terms of local music because these youngsters can’t even play a guitar but are concentrating much on computer generated music.
“Local musicians need to learn how to play a guitar so that they can develop Zambian music. Computers can’t take them anywhere,” he said.
He also said there was no future in the Zambian music industry because of the way things were going and musicians are not even serious enough to turn round the industry.
Mtawale, fondly known as Dr Jerrold, is an X-ray and ultra sound specialist who now works at Kabwe’s Mukuni Clinic.
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