Nature gets top billing at Rhythm in the Rainforest

November 29, 2011

The insect crescendo reached fever pitch as the light darkened. We could not see the sun anyway, as we were in the middle of a rainforest, but we knew night was falling as the hum of crickets around us grew louder to herald the darkness.

“And that’s a reminder of why we are all here!” whooped Evon, breaking the reverential silence.

“That’s nature all around us. That’s why we’re all here…”

She paused again, allowing the insect orchestra centre stage once more.

“… and THAT’s truly the rhythm in the rainforest!”

The crowd cheered and the band started up another track. The crowd whooped in appreciation and started to move. I looked around – people’s eyes were shining. And it was not just the attentive bar staff that were to thank for that.

We’d all just experienced ‘Rhythm in the Rainforest’, an exciting new event from GeoLodges inspired by the idea of providing a regular forum where people, nature and music meet. The first ‘Rhythm in the Rainforest’ was held at their magical Rainforest Lodge, in Mabira Forest, and boasted two fantastic performers in the line-up.

Ife Piankhi performing at Rainforest Lodge, UgandaFirst to the stage had been Ife Piankhi, a British Nigerian artist living in Uganda. She owned the stage, moving with perfect poise in a flowing orange dress that made her skin glow in the afternoon sun. Not afraid to flirt and play with the audience, she moved from her opening track – an Aretha Franklin cover of ‘Spanish Harlem’ morphed into a powerful libation where Ife recited a roll call of great Africans – through to original songs that captured the themes of the day: Africa, nature and womanhood.

Evon at Rhythm in the RainforestThen Evon took to the stage and womanhood suddenly took a more girlish turn. If Ife had played Mother Nature, shaking her hips with a knowing wink, Evon was like a young Gazelle – all long-limbed and fresh faced. But performance belied appearance and her set was accomplished beyond her years. Her covers of Oasis and Adele got people singing along, but her original compositions really got the crowd moving, particularly ‘Still Ugandan’ and ‘Big Blue Boots’.

The whole day was tremendous – a really unique event. For a lucky few, it was also a chance also to while away the weekend at the Lodge. Different ticket tiers were available, named after the various animals you see (or hear) around the Lodge – from Butterfly to Hyrax to Red-Tailed Monkey. If you were a Red-Tailed Monkey ticket holder, you enjoyed a night at the Lodge and actually had a good chance of seeing your namesake the next morning, crashing through the trees in front of your room’s verandah in your private forest clearing.

What also made this event unique, apart from the concept itself, was the way it had emerged and been marketed entirely via social media. GeoLodges had originally ‘met’ Evon and Ife via Twitter and Facebook, and the idea for hosting such an event came about. The idea grew, became a reality, and was marketed via the same channels. Everyone there was there because they knew someone, who followed someone, who friended someone, and so on. It was an innovative concept, developed and marketed in a highly original way.

At the end of the day, as the crowd clamoured for more, Ife joined Evon on stage for a few final tracks. In between numbers, as the sun was setting, Evon took a moment to hush everyone and make us listen to the forest all around us.

The music stopped, the people listened, and nature made herself heard. She was the star of the show.

We travelled courtesy of GeoLodges Uganda Ltd. The next Rhythm in the Rainforest event is scheduled for Saturday 21st January 2012.

Posted by Anne-Marie Weeden

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