Tuesday 14 August 2012

He would be king of dendera

Tryson Chimbetu
Sometime in October 2007, Takawira Dapi who calls himself Photovet brought Tryson Chimbetu for an interview.
Twenty years at the time, Tryson had very little to show for his claims that he would one day be big like his cousin Suluman.
I had had the opportunity to interview his late father Naison at the family home in Glen View 3 in 2005.
At the time, Tryson was a student at Glen View High 1. The family fortunes had dipped because the father was always down with one illness or another.
Only when he felt better would he do some shows at the Rose and Crown Hotel in Hatfield. Even then, he would use a cart to transport his instruments from Glen View 3 to any venue he would be performing.
It took Tryson about two years to dust up his father’s career and turn it into his own future. Just like Suluman, Tryson started by backing his father at a fundraising gig in Mutare.
That April, Tryson had shared the stage with Alick Macheso, Cephas Mashakada, Hosiah Chipanga and Allan Chimbetu during a mini-Independence gala.
Just like Simon, Naison’s health was clearly on the decline. When he finally passed on, Tryson had to make a major decision to be a musician or go to university to study medicine.
Faced with a family that looked up to him, Tryson decided to make music. He made this decision when he had no equipment.
Fortunately, he got help from Alick Macheso who put him up as a curtain raiser for most of his shows. That shaped him in the early days of his career.
So Photovet who had seen him performing as a curtain raiser to Alick Macheso brought him. I did not have any doubts about him and the fact that he could be his father’s replacement.
I had learnt not to doubt people since the time I interviewed the Soul-Bone guys.
I recall sitting biting my pen when I sat down to write the story. I pondered on what to call him since he had not anything tangible except his word and that of Takawira Dapi’s. Whilst I wanted to trust Tryson, I would not in the world trust Dapi.
The danger was predicting a rising star when it would dim any time soon. I risked it and started the story saying, ‘Another heir to the Chimbetu music legacy - Tryson, the late Naison's son - has risen to stake his claim to dendera music.
‘The 20-year-old former Glen View High 1 School student has opted for the Marxist label and has already thrilled audiences in Zimbabwe and Mozambique . . .’
It was not an easy thing for Tryson who like Suluman had older band members and inherited old equipment which needed replacement.
He also spoke about his dream to be a doctor but had to shelve it to pursue music.
Tryson appeared grounded to me. He exuded confidence and showed focus.
When he dropped his debut album Marxist Revival, and personally delivered a copy to me in 2008, I recall telling myself that if there is a Chimbetu who has managed to re-capture the golden age of dendera music, that one is Tryson. 
The dendera beat as in the early songs such as Mwana Wedangwe, Denda and Dr Nero is a light beat driven by two-vocal lines. The beat was so light that one would depend on the lyrics. That’s what made Simon and Naison’s composition rich.
Of course, when they split, Simon became adventurous. In the absence of his other half who gave the second vocal line, he had to bring in the bass-line as a composing stick. In other words, he used the bass guitar to put in vocals and other instruments came in after the bass lines.
He also had to use multiple vocals where possible but you will note that in most of the songs, his voice dominated unlike in the past.
This is what Suluman has adopted and to some extent all those who are plying the dendera beat today. In other words, it’s the commercialised version of dendera music.
Simon and Naison had their problems later in their career but to and for them it was not so much about songs like what is happening now. Naison who was the slower composer of the two had hits in Dr Nero and Sekuru Ndipeiwo Zano.
If Tryson remains calm and stay away from alcohol which destroyed his father’s career, his future in music is guaranteed.
I recall how at Saratoga where the Marxist used to perform every Sundays before Simon was incarcerated Naison would stagger onto the stage to perform. On two occasions, I witnessed a disastrous performance.
I have no doubt that Naison’s alcoholism contributed largely to their split. When I interviewed Simon about the reasons of their split, he was not open about it.
Of course, Naison denied it saying that they split when Simon moved over to the now defunct Record and Tape Promotions while he stayed at ZMC.

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