Kobo Town

"The music of the Toronto band can drift between classic Caribbean pop styles and even verge on hip-hop, but the singer's perspective remains sharply focused, wry and witty. Jumbie in the Jukebox is a seductive invitation to musical time travel — and one that's hard to resist."                    - NPR's All Things Considered

Kobo Town takes the intricate wordplay of classic Caribbean music and runs it through a 21st Century filter. In the world of Kobo Town calypso, roots reggae, and acoustic instrumentation meet innovative production techniques, social commentary and indie rock attitude.

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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, humorous 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.

Drew Gonsalves immigrated to Ottawa as a teenager and soon after began studying and learning the music of the country he left behind.  He studied classical guitar with Christopher McCourt in Ottawa and the cuatro with Robert Munro on visits back to Trinidad. In 2004, after many years of writing and performing in various reggae and world music groups, including Outcry and Galitcha, he formed Kobo Town in order to help revive interest in traditional calypso by writing and performing new material rooted in the rhythmic and lyrical forms of early Trinidadian music.

With Kobo Town and as a solo calypsonian, he has performed at festivals and venues across Canada, the United States, Europe and the Caribbean.  These include the Montreal International Jazz Festival, the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin,  DR Koncerhuset in Copenhagen, New Arts Exchange in Nottingham, Toronto Street Festival, Nuits d'Afrique, London Sunfest, the Bliss Centre in Belize City, Luminato, Bardentreffen Nuremberg, Salmon Arm Roots and Blues, Folk on the Rocks, the Normandie in Port-of-Spain, Vancouver Folk Festival, Calgary Folk Festival, Shelter Valley Folk Festival, Vancouver Island MusicFest, Regina Folk Festival and the Alianait Arts Festival in Iqaluit.  During this time he has shared the stage with legendary calypso and reggae artists like the Mighty Sparrow, Lord Superior, Calypso Rose, Burning Spear and The Wailers, as well as more mainstream acts like Bedouin Soundclash, Arrested Development and Suzanne Vega.

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Kobo Town is...  Drew Gonsalves, Linsey Wellman, Jan Morgan, Terrence Woode, Robert Milicevic, Don Stewart, Francesco Emmanuel, Derek Thorne

Booking Inquiries:                                           Frank Hoorn/Near North Music

Jumbie in the Jukebox

Kobo Town’s second album Jumbie in the Jukebox, released in 2013 by Stonetree and Cumbancha, was produced Ivan Duran.  The result of the collaboration between Kobo Town and Ivan Duran is a striking recording that reflects their mutual commitment to revive the folkloric music of the West Indies by taking it in new creative directions.  “Ivan and I wanted this album to be a contemporary expression that said something about Caribbean music, our heritage, and the potential for a new voice that resonates with people today,” Gonsalves declares. “We made a conscious effort, but one that was quite natural in its own way, to make the music different, a bit more intense. This album is a small, heartfelt tribute to the spirits – both remembered and forgotten – who have gone before us, whose songs and sounds have never lost their power to enchant.”

“Merging calypso, roots reggae, acoustic performance, dub studio techniques and Trinidadian/Jamaican cultures, Kobo Town is a unique, stylistic, trans-national composite of rhythm, poetry and activist journalism.”  -Exclaim!

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Artist Links:
Kobo Town Website

Video:
"Jumbie in the Jukebox" EPK

Reviews & Articles:
Carribean Beat
Washington Post
Songlines
fROOTS

Downloads:
Large File Poster