|Zimbabwe’s Bongo Love band members (clockwise from top left) Themba Mawoko, John Mambira, Trymore Jombo and Mpho Mambira have been performing together since high school. Their artistic career, which has surged in popularity through online social networking, has taken them to Europe, the Caribbean and now the USA. (Photos courtesy of www.myspace.com/bongolovemusic)|
Needham resident Bette Hoffman first learned about Bongo Love when they were invited to teach at Plugged In, a nonprofit youth-oriented music program that her son, Aaron, participates in after school. After seeing them perform, Hoffman wrote a post about the band on her blog to promote their music to her friends.
“I just got hooked on their music immediately,” she said. “I think they are wonderful, and I want to help them be even more successful.”
Hoffman invited Bongo Love back a few months later to surprise Aaron at his bar mitzvah. As luck would have it, on the day that they performed at Aaron’s party, the band was invited to perform at another concert in Acton a couple of weeks later.
Chad Urmston, formerly of the popular folk act Dispatch, who disbanded in 2002, also performed at the Acton show. A social activist committed to improving the quality of life in Zimbabwe, Urmston was entranced by Bongo Love’s sound, and invited them to perform with his band’s reunion concert — at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Originally slated to be a one-night-only reunion to raise funds for charities benefitting Zimbabweans worldwide, an additional two nights were added after the “Dispatch: Zimbabwe” concert sold out during the first half-hour of an exclusive presale available only to fans on the band’s MySpace page.
Two extra nights meant thousands more listeners exposed to Bongo Love’s music, and the exposure has translated into a swell of fan support. Viewer reception to Bongo Love’s Madison Square Garden performances and their live videos available on YouTube helped increase the demand that led to their current return engagement in the States.
“People really get into our music,” said Mpho Mambira. “People are amazed because they have never heard African music like ours before. Everyone has a good time when we perform.”
Bette Hoffman knows Boston public relations specialist Colette Philips through a mutual friend, who introduced Philips to Bongo Love. Also entranced by the band’s sound, Philips invited them to perform at the next “Get Konnected” networking cocktail reception she is hosting for Boston’s professionals of color.
“They represent … bringing multicultural people together,” said Philips.
As their American fanbase expands and their profile continues to rise, the band’s members said they are enjoying the ride.
“Our American fans have been really good to us,” said Jombo. “I get to perform, and so I am happy.”
Bongo Love will perform at the Get Konnected reception on June 24 at 28 Degrees, 1 Appleton Street, Boston. The band is scheduled to play at at 6:30 p.m.
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