Big Ben: Adapt or die

…keep the music flowing when times are tough

Jackie Wilson Asheeke

With the state of emergency restrictions, those producing songs that soothe our souls, make our feet move or hips sway are on lockdown. There is no doubt that musicians are challenged during this pandemic. That said, one of Namibia’s premier artists and musical performers, Big Ben, has not been idle during lockdown; brotha’man has been on the move.

During Stage 1 and State 2 of the lockdown and pandemic response phase Ben held two live online performances. Check out his Facebook page and find out how you can get a re-screening of those performances.

He is writing new music and practising new material. The music man is preparing for the lifting of large event regulations so that he can burst back onto the scene and feed a public starving for his tunes.

He is not in the studio yet to record, but he is preparing everything so that when the time is right, he will be ready to go and continue WOWING his fans.

In a phone interview, the Vakuru artist said, “It is terrible to not be able to perform, tour or be out in the public. But, musicians have a thick skin. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Once all restrictions are lifted and more people can fill venues, we will have concerts.”

When asked about where he’d like to perform, the Africa Penduka star said, “I want to be everywhere. Of course, right now, we haven’t been doing business. It will be difficult after such a long downtime of not performing and earning, to jump right in with a fully funded show. Money is very tight. We are looking into joining with several other musicians at the start to share costs and do a show. Entertainment carries high costs.”

Big Ben, with seven albums under his belt, has not been idle for a minute. His creative mind is thinking outside of the box. When discussing the new trend in other countries of artists performing live at drive-in theatres where fans can pay to get in, stay in their cars and enjoy a live show, he liked the idea. Windhoek has one such venue and movies have just begun to show there. People will be watching to see if that model works. Ben hopes that even after the lockdown, the drive-in theatre form of entertainment venue can continue.

When life serves up lemons, one must make lemonade the saying goes. Ben is preparing to re-air a musical event that he performed for the public two years ago. This will allow his troops of admirers and fans to hear him once again. “We are taking a pre-recorded concert from two years ago and will air it sometime between the end of June or the 4th of July. There is no fresh material out there …yet… but we have to do what is necessary. It is what it is.”

Born Venaune Ben Kandukira in 1978, Big Ben is a Namibian singer, guitarist and saxophonist.

He has won many awards for his music including the Best Male Artist of the Year Award at the Namibian Annual Music Awards (NAMAs). He frequently sells out shows with his fusion of ethnic, urban and international sounds.

His performance calendar has been filled with high-profile events and festivals. He has performed at the Windhoek Jazz Festival where he opened for South Africa’s Hugh Masekela. He has shared the limelight with Africa’s best, including Salif Keita, Freshlyground and Dan Shout.

Early in his career that took off after his first album in 2001, Big Ben added international appearances to his roster. Those events include venues in the UK, South Africa and Germany.

Go to Ben’s Facebook page or follow him on social media to get the exact date of the viewing of the pre-recorded concert he has announced.

We are starved to see the brotha’ in motion and hear our dose of Numba Numba, Omukandi, Mbinohange or Mberiyandja.

We can’t wait!

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