Thanks to the instant, worldwide connections made possible by the new frontier of online social networking, more musicians than ever are finding audiences in far-flung places.
Case in point: the Zimbabwean quartet Bongo Love, who are now traveling the U.S. on a tour that has featured a number of Boston-area stops, including a date this coming Tuesday at the South End nightspot 28 Degrees. The tour is the result in part of a growing fanbase that used a combination of new technology and old-fashioned word of mouth to get them here.
After finishing high school in 2001, group members John Mambira, Themba Mawoko, Trymore Jombo and Mpho Mambira moved from the small Zimbabwean town of Bulawayo to capital city Harare. There, they began to perfect their style, a mix of African folk music and American R&B beats played on traditional African instruments that bandleader John Mambira said they taught themselves to use.
“We call our music ‘Afrocoustic,’” he told the Banner in a recent interview. “We are music-influenced. We based our music on listening to Africans like Salif Keita, Baaba Maal and Angélique Kidjo, but we also like Tracy Chapman, Bob Marley and Seal. Paul Simon, especially, has a African feel to his music.”
In 2005, the band entered and won a contest that allowed them to travel to Mozambique, Sweden and the Dominican Republic to perform and teach their music. The overseas audiences really took to Bongo Love’s sound and began heading online to tell their friends in America about it.
The electronic promotion opened the door for the band to launch its first U.S. tour last year, a trip that saw them not only play shows, but also offer private lessons to aspiring young musicians.(p2)