Super Saturday story

There are many live bands in Nigeria that make social life tick. In this piece, Adedayo Adejobi examines the top five live bands that rocked Nigeria’s high society in 2017 and what the future holds for them

1-    The Shuga Band-Akin Tofowomo

The name Akinloye Tofowomo is synonymous with Live Music in Nigeria. The Smart, intelligent and business savvy Akinloye Tofowomo is fondly called Shuga. He, alongside his wife of inestimable value, Maria Tofowomo, own and run the Shuga Group- a fast emerging conglomerate with a spread in the live band, record label, Lights Sound, Logistics, training, and entertainment consultancy. He equally runs a non-profit organisation, the Shuga Foundation which caters for physically challenged children battling polio. For anyone who has followed keenly and known in detail, the trajectory of Shuga, he didn’t just start, he’s paid his dues in the game. From the ranks of Jazzville to, Pintos, to the Thistle Bar, to The outside Inn on the long list, where he started and used to play with Ejiro of the famed Prudence Band, it’s no doubt been a long time coming on the music grind.

Akin’s career and life is a testament to success, dint of hard work and unwavering focus, in spite of seeming physical disability, as over 20 years ago, he came into the Live music business with no capital, nor connections. Today, a conservative Akinloye has risen head-high out of the crowd, built an enviable entertainment empire on the heels of his passion, talent, commitment to excellence, tenacity and highest standards of Professionalism. As Nigeria’s unarguably  highest paid Live band service, all he needs to do is name the price and most times, set the date, the rich, influential, and royalty would plunk down their hard-earned cash without batting an eyelid,  just to have him treat them to quality and timeless  live music, and he constantly performs.

Married to Mariah Tofowomo, with two kids, his spiritual side unknown to many, and God has been his secret weapon, asides his team – the technical, administrative and Shuga band members who work round the clock to ensure the fire burns.

For the second year running, son of a Late Judge Tofowomo, Akinloye Tofowomo’s Shuga Band, Nigeria’s most-in-demand name in live music, clinches this year’s coveted Best Live Band of the year.

From playing gigs of an undeniably impressive catalogue of the Super rich- General TY Danjuma to the Abebe’s to Gbolly Balogun, Tofowomo’s career continually soars high.

A big contender for Nigeria’s number one band, Akin Tofowomo, and his team, have found a scientific formula for making guests party. Little wonder that he’s doing more cross-industry business than some of Nigeria’s biggest pop stars. Investing in equipment and research, the band has cornered the wedding industry, adding that to other lucrative areas like conferences, annual general meetings, and burials, in a country where parties start on Thursdays and end Sundays. No offseasons.

Revenue source: Performance fees; music label; music management; consultancy business, non-governmental organisation; spraying of money, equipment rental.

2-    The Veentage Band

Plenty of bands have pillaged the music scene to varying levels of success, yet this young and eclectic 12 piece band led byBabades Akpevwe Emokiniovo, trumps them all.

Their secret is that he doesn’t bother to waste any time trying to ape the sound of his influence (The Sharp Band). Instead, he’s grabbed the constituent parts—guitars strung with razor wire, vocalists venting their spleen with as much unhinged energy as their skinny bodies can muster—and constructed a new beast of a noise with it. Nothing comes as expected when you listen to veentage band’s live performances every time. The Veentage band always surprise you, inspire you, and give your eardrums a well-deserved workout. No wonder Nigeria’s first lady-Mrs Aisha Buhari, Folorunsho Alakija, the Okorocha’s in Imo State, Gen T.Y Danjuma amongst a retinue of royalty came calling on Veentage band countless times in 2017.

Babades Akpevwe Emokiniovo belongs to another generation. His work ethic is commendable. Their music sounds like the stuff of a complete identity, fully formed from birth, confident and, though he has no reason to, devote time to proving that nothing that was seemingly given to him was anything he didn’t earn. Decidedly not in harmony with this generation of people raised on the notion that dreams are only a strong dose of self-esteem away and that privilege is a right, the youthful, playful Akpevwe and his delectably mercurial wife-with inimitable powerful vocals ripping instrumentals and aggressive musicianship, co-run the band, sing like people shouldering the weight of long-gone lives they’ve never lived.

On the roll call, as the second position, the veentage band acts, are an all-consuming testament to talent far beyond its years.

Revenue source: Performance fees, cash spraying at gigs, equipment rental.

3-    Eboni Band- Godbless Ubiebifayen

To the Super- rich and party rockers, Eboni Band is a name they have on speed dial. To Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, Total, Mobil, Africa’s richest black man Aliko Dangote, Ooni of Ife, Oba Elegushi amongst other notable names, Godbless Ubeibifayen’s Eboni band is technically their in-house band.

In his 40’s, the leader of the Eboni Band, one of the biggest and hottest live bands in the country right now. The band name stems from his black skin. The father of three from Delta State came to Lagos 28 years ago whilst awaiting admission to study music at the Prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University after clinching a grade 8 certification at the Victor Uwaifo School of Music in Warri. Since his foray into Lagos, he hasn’t looked back, and fortune seems to have smiled on him. His career kicked off in a Lagos studio as a backup singer and an engineer before he joined Onyeka Onwenu for two years. He then moved unto Sharp Band for 5 years and left to form the Eboni Band.

They may all play the same kind of music, but Godbless Ubeibifayen’s Eboni Band song presentation comes with the Eboni style-humour and laughter. He is set apart from his peers with his discipline, power dressing, humour and discretion on the quality and choice of to play at social functions. The successful music entrepreneur owes his career success story to his wife, wisdom.

Revenue Source: performance fees, record label, spraying of cash, equipment rental.

4-    Sharp Band- Sharp Band, Anesi Ivharue

You may not know their names and faces. But you’ve danced to Sharp Band’s live music at some point. Yes, you have.

Blessed with longevity, the hardworking and consistent band will likely outlive most of today’s pop musicians. Busy weekdays and weekends. He’s as old as Shuga and touted to be raking in a mouth-watering figure in terms of billing and patronage.

The success of the band is not sudden, but gradual. When he started, it was as though there was no hope at the end of the tunnel. But with focus, patience, faith, hard work, perseverance, and tenacity, the Sharp band became the band of choice in the social circle.

Over the years, he’s become a rallying point for other Band owners.  He organises the meeting tagged Monday Night Gig- a platform that brings them all together to meet and discuss the problems and issues arising from the business of band ownership.

The Band owner has had his own share of life’s cards, as he’s been through at least three shake-ups when his band members decided to walk out unannounced to form their own bands, thus putting in in dire straits with clients, but he’s come out stronger and risen above the odds.

Not bitter, he’s reached out to his band members who left, and continually wishes them well. Today, through dints of hard work inculcated in them, he’s proud to say that Sharp Band Nigeria has developed some other bands in the country today.

As a frontline player in the industry, Anesi Ivharue occasionally organises his long-time dream, a live music experience he’s called Sharp band vs Sharp band. A two-in-one band style which sees his bands on one stage, with one sound, but two unique presentations and interpretations simultaneously. Anesi Ivharue, the ‘sharp’ man behind the ‘sharp’ sound, seems to be setting a tone for the future, and also in his modest way celebrating hit makers and legends through his music platform at Baylounge, on the waterfront of Lekki Lagos. Looking into the future, holding onto to its old and renewed glory, name and fame, the sharp band ranks fourth on the list.

Revenue Source: Performance fees, cash spraying at gigs, equipment rental.

5-Faith Band- Ayo Ajekigbe

For those who usually frequent Lagos parties, they must have one way or the other, run into the dressed in white,  prim and proper, well-organised, time-conscious, and clearly focused on his music career-Ayo Ajekigbe of the famed Faith Band.

At wedding receptions, birthdays, burial ceremonies and other social functions, the band has become the favourite of Lagos celebrities, who want an adaptive band that plays a potpourri of music from Gospel, Juju, and Highlife to Hip Hop.

Following the high demand for Faith Band to perform at events, and its resolve not to turn down requests for its great services, it set up 3 units. With this disruptive innovation, the Faith Band performs simultaneously at 3 functions across Nigeria. Despite its replication, the band’s performances are always highly outstanding. To this end, the partygoers are not surprised when they see Faith band performing simultaneously at 3 big events in Lagos on the same day. The Head-honcho, Ayo Ajekigbe has put in structures in place that make it possible.

Interestingly, Ayo Ajekigbe’s and its founders started from being members of the First Baptist Church Choir in Lagos. Interestingly, years after, Ayo Ajekigbe still remains a valued member of the same church choir.

If you’d ask Ayo Ajekigbe who recently released a four-track album, a few years ago, how he saw the band and how successful it’s become, be sure to know he’ll tell you he didn’t Know Faith band will be this big.

Revenue Source: Performance fees, cash spraying at gigs, equipment rental.