On October 11, Toronto-based Kobo Town will dazzle audiences when it brings its award-winning, Trinidadian, calypso-inspired tunes – described by The Guardian as “an intoxicating blend of lilting calypsonian wit, dancehall reggae and trombone-heavy brass” – to Flushing Town Hall’s stage.
Founded and fronted by Trinidadian émigré and songwriter Drew Gonsalves, Kobo Town’s music is a “unique, stylistic, transnational composite of rhythm, poetry and activist journalism,” says Exclaim! In his songs, Gonsalves explores 500 years of history through his post-colonial, Trinidadian lens, armed with his trademark wit and gift for melody. Part poet, part correspondent, Gonsalves delivers compelling dispatches from events, both real and imaginary.
You can watch Kobo Town perform here.
Flushing Town Hall will present Kobo Town on Friday, October 11, starting with an interactive Calypso workshop at 7 PM followed by a performance at 8 PM. Tickets are $16, $10 for members and students, and free for teens, and can be purchased at www.flushingtownhall.org or by calling (718) 463-7700 x222.
Kobo Town is named after the historic neighborhood in Trinidad’s biggest city, Port of Spain, where calypso was born amid the boastful, humorous, and militant chants of roaming stick-fighters. Gonsalves grew up in a middle-class neighborhood just outside Port of Spain, and moved with his mother and siblings to Ottawa, Canada at age 13. The sudden move to a new (and cold) world where he didn’t fit in led Gonsalves to cultivate a deep nostalgia for the land of his birth. He started writing his own calypsos and visiting calypso tents every time he visited Trinidad.
In 2004, Gonsalves launched Kobo Town with some fellow Trinidad expats in Toronto. The band’s 2006 debut album, Independence, quickly made the band a crowd favorite on the festival circuit. He later collaborated with Belizean producer Ivan Duran, which led to Jumbie in the Jukebox, a masterful record that topped the European world music charts and brought the band back to Europe. The album also climbed to #5 on the Billboard Reggae charts and was nominated for multiple awards, including a JUNO (Canada’s Grammy equivalent) and the prestigious Polaris Music Prize.
Kobo Town’s latest album, Where the Galleon Sank, won the Canadian Folk Music Award for World Group of the Year 2017, and the 2018 JUNO Award for Best World Music Album. Additionally, one of the songs on the record—a reprise from the group’s first release in 2006—was covered and released by Carlos Santana as “Breaking Down the Door”.Once again, Flushing Town Hall is opening its doors to teenagers—for free. Under the “Teen Access Program,” all 13- to 19-year-old teens (whether a member or not) will be welcomed to attend any performance for free. The program is designed to appeal to students and help foster a greater love for arts and culture.
Flushing Town Hall is accessible by car, bus, train and foot—located a short distance from the 7 train—at 137-35 Northern Blvd. in Flushing, Queens. Access for wheelchair users and individuals with limited mobility is available.