Where are you Pied Pipers?

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The Pied Pipers rose on the chart with popular songs Country Boy and Lightning in the 1970’s. They featured mainly at night clubs in the heart of Harare and at music festivals at Gwanzura and Rufaro stadiums.

They were the talk of Harare, also playing at weddings and were popular at Stoddart and Mai Musodzi halls in Mbare.

Though they did not launch many albums of their own, Pied Pipers was composed of excellent musicians like Gideon Neganji, Fungai Neganji, Chowas Mdoka, Evans Chateau, Tendai Masango and Elisha “Porky” Hwata — all were very good at playing songs, particularly country and soul.

This writer caught up with “Porky”, who was the Pied Pipers drummer and has gone solo. Porky gives us his own story which also enlightens us on the future of the band.

He says Pied Pipers was born in the high-denisty suburb of Mbare in the 1970s and started on a low note, but it didn’t take long to launch a single vinyl record with two songs — Country Boy composed by Neganji and Lightning by “Porky” himself.

At music festivals, Pied Pipers would team up with Groovy Union, a local band comprising Muddy Austin, Davy Ndoro, Clancy Mbirimi and Tony Gumbo to play songs by international artists like Ottis Redding and Don Williams.

They would also sing along with lead guitarist Manu Kambani aka “Jimmy Hendrix”.

“Porky” went solo in 1993 following a tragic accident which claimed lives and left others crippled in the Pied Pipers band. The surviving members were left with no instruments and had to resort to other survival skills.

He had done a print origination course, so he joined a printing company and was fortunate enough to be sponsored with basic music instruments like guitars, drums and a keyboard which he still uses to compose and record his own music.

This writer had a chance to listen to 14 songs on a demo tape which are just waiting to be released on two albums. It is a mixed bag of jazz, soul and blues, chachacha and a bit of reggae and it is not disappointing.

He is also working on an album to be titled Destiny Zimbabwe to promote tourism and he hopes to release it soon.

He advises youths to compose own songs and not depend on computer-generated music.

“People want to see a band and listen to a live performance during galas, so get real and sing with a focus,” said Porky.

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