By Prince Mushawevato
Peter Moyo’s archaic approach to business is gradually but certainly blowing apart the flamboyant Kwekwe-based ensemble, Utakataka Express.
The sungura musician successfully steered the group out of uncharted waters following the demise of founder Tongai “Dhewa” Moyo in 2011. However, the gains made thus far, which include the successful launch of the albums “Mushonga Mukuru” and “Mabasa aMwari”, may count for nothing if recent developments are anything to go by.
Peter, affectionately known as Young Igwe as a salute to his late father, could lose his entire band – save for chanter Gift “Shiga” Katulika and bass guitarist Spencer Khumbulani.
Guitarists Willard “Willo” Loti, Evidence “Baba Gari” Tarabuka, Savious Karikodzi, Mathew Perego, drummers Guyson Sixpense and Prince Kapatsa have formed their own band called The Bullets.
Already the group has recorded a six-track album titled “Zvine Musoro”, which is being produced by Jabulani Ndlovu at True Tone Studios.
Songs on the album that is being mastered and set for release anytime soon are “Usarivare”, “Warova”, “Panoti Rudo”, “Wakanganwa”, “Jehovha Jaire” and “Hona Moto”.
Willo, leader of the new group, last week confirmed that his days, and those of five fellow Utakataka Express members, were numbered at the Kwekwe-based outfit.
“It’s all about doing something that will give us a decent life. A number of Utakataka Express band members support this vision. We are still with the group but tichawoneka kana nguva yakwana (we will bid farewell when the time comes). But I wish for people to understand that I’m not in any kind of fight with Peter. He is still my boss,” said Willo.
Young Igwe has been found wanting when it comes to administration.
Admittedly, the prevailing economic environment is tough but there are certain things that can easily be avoided by following basic best business practice.
For instance, he has failed to invest in a new and reliable public address system in the five or so years he has been at the helm of the popular sungura outfit.
The music kit currently being used was bought by his father around 2007 following the success of “Naye”.
The obsolete music equipment is giving the musician sleepless nights as it often disrupts his gigs due to malfunctions.
It was everyone’s assumption that the musician would acquire a new kit after receiving numerous cash donations following the release of his second effort, “Mabasa aMwari”. Some promoters even went as far as pledging to help him buy a new PA system.
Instead, the “Samasimba” singer has religiously focused on changing and/or upgrading his cars to keep as trendy as possible while neglecting to feed the goose that lays the golden egg.
“The sound produced by my kit is unique and I cannot get it from anywhere else. The boxes that make up my kit have an inimitable way of producing sound that is loved by my fans. If you have noticed I tend to struggle when I share the stage with Sulu (Chimbetu) and Jah Prayzah because they both have modern PA systems,” said Young Igwe when we asked him about the lack of investment in better equipment.
“I personally built my own kit and I will maintain it, making necessary adjustments and repairs only. The boxes are very much in sync with the Utakataka sound.”
The story gets worse.
There are reports that band members had their salaries docked last week because the money was urgently needed to fund PA system repairs – which are now done weekly. Sometimes they are not paid on time despite having collected cold, hard cash at gigs either from promoters or from direct gate takings.
And the Utakataka management is unnecessarily bloated.
There are three managers: Suko Dube (who doubles as a sound engineer), Shiga (a chanter) and Pliers Paurene. The trio is said to be causing confusion week-in-week-out as they all have the authority to organise and sanction shows.
Through it all, Peter will not address the problems that in the past saw him lose three band members to Mutodi Express.
Instead, he boasts that there are a lot of talented men of instruments out there and his band will live on.
What he seems to forget is that where his vocals have failed him, it is these “dispensable” instrumentalists who have carried the sound and maintained the high standards set by his legendary father, Tongai Moyo.
“I’m not the only person facing liquidity challenges in the country. Other companies are also in a similar fix. I have since told my guys that feel it’s not working to feel free to leave and try their luck elsewhere. What they need to be doing at least is to come up with suggestions on how best we can increase show attendance figures,” said Young Igwe.
“All my transactions are transparent. I have a book where we record the group’s expenses that include accommodation, food and any other expenses involving the band and those costs have to be covered by whatever we make on a particular outing.”
The Utakataka Express band members appear to have already made up their minds with regards to exiting ship.
Peter’s comrade, Baba Gari, said they long had plans to form their own group. He highlighted that they came to Utakataka Express from other groups hence it is not a crime should they decide to move on.
“This is not a new thing. Back in the days we used to compose some beats for Dhewa and he would just come and place his vocals. We knew that one day we would form our own group and record an album and this is a dream coming true.
“We are aware of the challenges that are likely to be faced and we do not hope to have it easy. Zvinhu zvakaoma (things are tough) but people are still giving birth. Why then should we fear venturing into new territories,” said the diminutive rhythm guitarist.
Besides the forthcoming project “Zvine Musoro”, Willo also has another album “Chiringiso” under his belt. It will be interesting to see how this development pans out.
This is not the first time that Peter has been deserted by band members. Shiga Shiga and Kumbulani recently rejoined Utakataka Express after quitting the band in 2012 to lead Energy Mutodi’s Mutodi Express.
Willo and Karikodzi have also previously cut ties with the band only to return when they discovered that the grass was not greener on the other side.
In a majority of cases, disgruntled band members have retraced their foot-steps with tails neatly tucked between the legs after failing to make it on their own.
A recent example is that of Jonasi Kasamba and Obert Gomba who rejoined Alick Macheso after their failed romance with Extra Kwazvose and gospel outfit Extreme Afrique. However, there are cases as well where splits have created better bands and variety for music fans. Sunday Mail