The Lulaworld festival showcases the jazz, Latin and world music musicians in Toronto.
The festival is organized by Lula Lounge and runs May 18-June 7, 2014.
Drew Gonsalves, songwriter and lead singer of Kobo Town led his merry men from Canada,
Grenada and Trinidad in a concert on Sunday night at the opening of the Lulaworld festival in Toronto.
The music has origins in Trinidad Calypso, with characteristic horn lines, phrasing, back up vocal harmonies and a driving rhythm section. It was sometimes so authentic I swear I could hear bottle and spoon.
When Drew picked up the cuatro on some pieces, I was reminded of Trinidad’s profound musical and cultural links to Venezuela and Cuba. With added dashes of reggae and hip hop, the band kept the multi-generational, multi-cultured house on its feet all night.
Classics by Lord Kitchener, Lord Invader and the Mighty Sparrow were worked seamlessly into the two hour set. Drew has an encyclopedic historical knowledge of ole time calypso. He filled the audience in, for example, on the background of ‘Rum and Coco Cola’ by Lord Invader.
The song was stolen – the lyrics were sanitized for American audiences and became a big hit for the Andrew Sisters in the 1940’s. The true intention of the song was to comment on the negative economic impact of the largest American naval base outside of the US, on a tiny island.
Drew continued the tradition of ‘calypso journalism’ in many songs, including ‘Karachi Burning’.
Here he commented on political situation in Pakistan as the country exploded the day that Benazir Bhutto was assassinated.
The band ended the show with ‘Jean and Dinah’ by the Mighty Sparrow. Deeply familiar yet also brand new, Kobo Town is brilliant! The group embarks on a tour this summer of Canada, the USA and the UK promoting their latest album Jumbie in the Jukebox.
© Gloria Blizzard is a Toronto-based writer
Photo: Kobo Town