Kobo Town


"Merging calypso, roots reggae, acoustic performance, dub studio techniques and Trinidadian/Jamaican cultures, Kobo Town is a unique, stylistic, transnational composite of rhythm, poetry and activist journalism." Brent Hagerman / Exclaim!


“Taking cues from Jamaican mento, reggae, and calypso, Independence is packed with traditional instrumentation and a joyous vibe.” Matt Schreiner / Global Rhythm


Founded by Trinidadian/Canadian songwriter Drew Gonsalves, Kobo Town is named after the historic neighborhood in Port-of-Spain where calypso was born amid the boastful, humourous and militant chants of roaming stick-fighters. Situated near the fishermen’s wharf, the area was a site of constant defiance and conflict, a place where sticks and stones, songs and verses clashed with the bayonets and batons of colonial rule. For the members of the six-piece outfit, the name suggests an origin as well as a destination.


Exploring the rich lyrical tradition and compelling rhythms of calypso’s formative years - the age of the Roaring Lion, Mighty Spoiler, Lord Invader, King Radio and Attila the Hun - Kobo Town strives to demonstrate the contemporary relevance of their art by engaging the pressing concerns of our time. Domestic violence, the war on Iraq, the paradoxes of globalization, the ongoing state of Caribbean dependency, and the bittersweet experience of immigration are all treated within their wide and varied repertory.


Since the group’s formation in 2004, Kobo Town has performed at festivals and venues throughout Canada and the United States, including the Montreal International Jazz Festival, Vancouver Folk Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Levitt Pavilion in Los Angeles, Celebrate Toronto Street Festival, London Sunfest, Regina Folk Festival, Vancouver Island MusicFest, Live From the Rock, Ottawa Folk Festival, Festival Nuits d’Afrique, Harbourfront Center, Salmon Arm Roots and Blues, Peterborough Folk Festival, Luminato, Musique MultiMontreal, Canmore Folk Festival, Harrison Music Festival and the Blue Skies Folk Festival. The group has also performed live on national and regional CBC programs including Q, Canada Live, Bandwidth, Here and Now, Fuse, Big City Small World, and Metro Morning. Kobo Town was the subject of a Bravo documentary series profiling artists of the Caribbean diaspora. Other TV appearances include Breakfast TV in Toronto and Gayelle Television in Trinidad and Tobago.


Early 2007 saw the release of Kobo Town’s debut album Independence which was recorded between Toronto, Ottawa and Port-of-Spain with Trinidadian producer Lyndon Livingstone. Nominated for an Indie award, a Canadian Folk Music Award, and an International Folk Alliance award, the record has received very positive reviews from the international music press as well as frequent airplay on the CBC and college stations throughout Canada. The album has also received a fair amount of international airplay with regular spins on the BBC, Radio Sweden, NPR, RadioEin and Radio Bremen in Germany and Power 102FM in Trinidad. A track from the record was included on Sound of the World: Beyond the Horizon, Warner Music’s 2008 world music compilation which was released in Europe and the United States this past summer.


Kobo Town has begun recording their second album with Belizean producer Ivan Duran (Andy Palacio, Umalali, Aurelio Martinez). The recipient of last year’s WOMEX award for his work on Andy Palacio’s Watina, Ivan shares with Kobo Town the commitment to revive the folkloric musics of the West Indies by taking them in new creative directions. The album is due for release in early 2012.

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