Latest Canadian World Music Sensation Kobo Town to Perform Free Concert in New York on January 12

Kobo Town - Photo by Paul Wright
Kobo Town – Photo by Paul Wright
Kobo Town, a band formed by Trinidadian-Canadian songwriter Drew Gonsalves is set to perform in New York City as part of the Mundial Montreal showcase at The Living Room. The concerts will take place during the significant Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) Conference and will present some of the most exciting up-and-coming talents in the Canadian music scene.

Kobo Town combines classic calypso, roots reggae, and acoustic instrumentation with innovative production techniques, social commentary and indie rock attitude. Kobo Town’s second album Jumbie in the Jukebox will be released in May, 2013 by Stonetree Records and Cumbancha.

Kobo Town was founded in 2004 when Drew Gonsalves, a Trinidadian of Portuguese ancestry, joined other Trinidadian expats and musicians from the Caribbean diaspora living in Canada. Gonsalves was raised in a middle class suburban town outside Port-of-Spain but his family moved to Canada when he was 13 years old. Even though he was exposed to a lot of music growing up in the island, the local folklore tradition of calypso music wasn’t at the center of his interest back then. Like most of the youth of his socioeconomic background, he was mostly influenced by American and British rock music.

It wasn’t until he relocated to Canada that the sense of nostalgia and genuine interest in his country’s history led him to explore the rich traditions of calypso music, mostly by digging through bins of old records in second-hand stores. “Calypso is the English folk music of urban Trinidad,” explains Gonsalves, “And the calypsonian, or calypso singer, is like a singing newspaper that comments on the events of the time. His role is halfway between court jester and griot.”

With that goal, Gonsalves formed Kobo Town (the name references the neighborhood where calypso is said to have been born) and released an acclaimed debut album titled Independence in 2005. Jumbie in the Jukebox, the title of their upcoming second album, refers to the jumbie, a spirit in Trinidadian folklore. According to Gonsalves, “A jumbie fulfills many roles. It’s used to frighten children, sort of like boogie man. It evokes a sense of mystery about the world and all of the strange forces that influence its course.”

For Jumbie in the Jukebox, Kobo Town worked with Ivan Duran who produced the album and brought to the band a new perspective and inspiration. “Ivan introduced me to a vast array of new sounds, especially the vintage equipment that collects dust in his studio,” says Gonsalves. Ivan Duran is well known for his skillful work on the now classic album Wátina from Andy Palacio & the Garifuna Collective that earned a 2007 WOMEX Award. The result of the collaboration between Kobo Town and Ivan Duran is a remarkable recording that reflects their mutual commitment to revive the folkloric music of the West Indies by taking it in contemporary directions. The album was recorded in Montreal, Trinidad, Belize and Toronto, where Kobo Town is based.

Kobo Town at The Living Room
Saturday, January 12, 2013
154 Ludlow St, New York, NY 10002
10:40 pm – Free

More about the about the band at

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *