ACHOLA ROSARIO GOES OUT IN SEARCH OF MUSIC AND ROAST MEAT
By Achola Rosario, Contributing Editor of http://www.ATCNews.org
(Posted 10th January 2021)
Dagoretti Corner has for long had a slight unsavory reputation, not for any reason but simply because it is on a corner of a major highway (Ngong Road) and is the downtown side of a middle-class neighborhood in Nairobi. In a way that has helped hide this gem of a pub that has been an insider secret for music and film industry types for quite a few years, nobody is quite sure how long. It just seems like it has always been there.
Cozy and intimate, with Swahili sukas on the ceiling, Bob Marley drawings and posters covering the upper part of one wall, jam-jar glasses and cheap liquor, it seems like a fantastic place to come and get drunk. Until you hear the sweet music from the stage room next door and are drawn to it as if by horses to hear the magic.
On this particular day, a week before Christmas, I was invited by the owner Steve Kawinda, a handsome light-skinned Dread who came back from “outside countries” to settle back in Kenya. He runs the club with the Indomitable Dave, a fine musician who has mentored many successful artists in the Kenyan music industry. You would be surprised who you would find there. Artists such as Makadem and Binti Africa regularly perform there, and you will also find the organizers of Kenya’s Blankets and Wines, as well as young gifted upcoming musicians such as the ones I went to profile that day. They are called The African Muse band, a horn ensemble that formed when they met in church. Yes church.
There are 7 of them and their average age is between 21-23 years old. And yet these guys and a little lady, play like old men. They are precise and on point rhythmically, and their range spans from Kenyan Soul and Zouk, South African and Cuban Jazz, a little ballad rock and crowning it all with a Reggaelicious Christmas rendition of “Oh Come All Ye Faithful”. Stirring stuff. The audience could not sit still for long, baited by yours truly of course. I was not going to dance foolishly on my own.
After a long and heinous year that ended in an equally nightmarish fashion, it felt good not only hear good live music from young old souls, but also to let loose and be teenagers again, hooting and hollering, dancing and bouncing to the tunes, with the legends in the house joining the “yungins” in what seemed like an impromptu jam session but could not have been because they were so in tune together. The bucket was duly passed around for collection for the artists, as the house cover charge is only $10, and bar only pays for itself at the moment.
There is also a butcher on the premises, who cuts off chunks of fresh beef for roasting in the night, extra-salty treats to induce patrons to drink more beer, as well as various “mutura” (street-sausage) with kachumbari vendors in the vicinity. You can smoke in the bar but not in the auditorium, and patrons generally pop in and out of each, and mostly linger in the corridor on their way, to laugh and exchange ideas with each other, before being lured back to dance by the live music.
I first was introduced to Dagoz by the creators of Coke Studios, who told me that if I wanted to break into the entertainment industry in Kenya, this was the place to meet, greet and network. They were not lying. In 2 years, the contact I have made there have propelled me step by step to greater heights, and according to the artists I have met and spoken to there, including the talented Brass Band “The African Muse”, it has done the same for them, curing stage-fright and getting them on a path to earning an income from their gift.
To contact DAGOZ BAR for event information or to perform there:
Steve Kawinda: +254 736 286 051
To book The African Muse Band call:
Felix: +254 729 591 631
Lennox: +254 790 803 362
To watch The F.OM.O. TRAVEL SHOW EP 54: DAGOZ BAR: