(Flushing, N.Y.) — 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.
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. During the workshop, participants will explore and sing-along to a selection of the Trinidad’s most beloved songs from the 1800’s to the present day, and get introduced to the clever lyricism, soaring melodies, and unfailing grooviness of this captivating music.
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.
Founded and fronted by émigré Trinidadian songwriter Drew Gonsalves, Kobo Town’s music has been described as “an intoxicating blend of lilting calypsonian wit, dancehall reggae and trombone-heavy brass” (The Guardian). From their home in Toronto, the JUNO Award (aka Canada’s Grammys) winning group has brought their distinct calypso-inspired sound to audiences across the world, from Port-of-Spain to Paris and from Montreal to Malaysia. During the workshop, participants will explore and sing-along to a selection of the Trinidad’s most beloved songs from the 1800’s to the present day, and get introduced to the clever lyricism, soaring melodies, and unfailing grooviness of this captivating music.
Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts dba Flushing Town Hall is a not for profit organization which receives major support from the National Endowment for the Arts; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; New York State Assembly Member Ron Kim; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Mayor Bill de Blasio; Queens Borough President Melinda Katz; Council Members Adrienne Adams, Costa Constantinides, Daniel Dromm, Barry Grodenchik, Peter Koo, Karen Koslowitz, and Paul A. Vallone; the Booth Ferris Foundation, the Howard Gilman Foundation, and the Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation.
Support for our programs is also provided by Acrobuffos/Seth Bloom & Christina Gelsone, Angela An, Robin Bell-Stevens, Dongjiang Bi, Cathay Bank, Douglass Chan, Amy Mak Chan, Sharon Chen, Ginger Chinn, Dr. Hsing-Lih Chou / New York Institute of Culture and the Arts, Con Edison, Crossings TV, Exploring the Metropolis, Kuang-Yu Fong / Chinese Theatre Works, Barbara Garii, Matthew Goldner, Howard Graf & Kathy Donovan, Guru Krupa Foundation, Lily Han, Heather Harrison, Belinda Pilin Hsu, Alice & Steve Huang, Hung Pin Hung, Raymond D. Jasen, the Jim Henson Foundation, Ellen Kodadek, Nelson Lee / Flushing Bank, James S. Liao, Emily Lin / Lin & Loveall Foundation, Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, Frank Macchio, Materials for the Arts, William McClure / Queens College, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Jassy Z. Min, New York Chinese Chorus, Northwell Health, Carlos Ortiz, Queens Art Education Center / Arthur Liu, Queens Courier, Resorts World, Camillo Reyes, RuDance / Asian American Dance Sport Corp., Helen Shieh, Richard Siu, Curtis Smith, Mike Sperendi & Jan Schneider, Taipei Cultural Center in New York, Michael Tang, Veronica Tsang, Tai & Tony Wang / Glow Foundation, Jay Wegman, Constance Wingate, Anna Wu, Minwen Yang, Hank Yeh, Sandy Yeh, Shane Yeh, and Angela Qi Zhang. We are extremely grateful to the anonymous donor who contributed a $40,000 challenge gift in honor of our 40th anniversary and inspired so much generosity in others. Support at $500 and up for the 2020 fiscal year is included.
About Flushing Town Hall
Flushing Town Hall (FTH), a Smithsonian affiliate, presents multi-disciplinary global arts that engage and educate the global communities of Queens and New York City, in order to foster mutual appreciation. As advocates of arts equity since 1979, we support local, immigrant, national, and international artists, developing partnerships and collaborations that enhance our efforts. As a member of New York City’s Cultural Institutions Group (CIG), we serve to restore, manage and program the historic 1862 landmark on behalf of the City of New York. FTH celebrates the history of Queens as the home of Jazz, by presenting the finest in Jazz performance. We are committed to arts education and hands-on learning, for the arts-curious, arts enthusiasts, and professional artists. We serve one of the most diverse communities in the world, and strive to uphold the legacy of inclusiveness that has defined our community since the Flushing Remonstrance of 1657.
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