Founded and fronted by émigré Trinidadian songwriter Drew Gonsalves, Kobo Town’s music has been variously described as“an intoxicating blend of lilting calypsonian wit, dancehall reggae and trombone-heavy brass”(Guardian) and an “unique, transnational composite of rhythm, poetry and activist journalism.”(Exclaim!) From their home in Toronto, the JUNO-nominated group has brought their distinct calypso-inspired sound to audiences across the world, from Port-of-Spain to Paris and from Montreal to Malaysia.
Born and raised in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, 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.