June 2007

CIUT 89.5 FM
is Toronto's preeminent, listener-supported presenter of leading-edge music and spoken-word programming since 1966. Firmly rooted in the University of Toronto community, CIUT's programming reaches and represents the community at large and encompasses a wide panorama of styles and expressions...
CIUT's 20th Anniversary
eccodekKobo TownMaracatu Nunca Antes
June 14, 2007 Lula Lounge Toronto
A World of Music Celebrates CIUT's 20th Anniversary
by Laila Boulos with photos by Roger Humbert
The celebration of CIUT's 20th anniversary on the air began slowly as people trickled in from the fabulous weather. The first act to grace the stage was eccodek. With their smooth flowing sounds, this is a band for winding down 'in the wee small hours of the morning' when the stragglers at the party refuse to leave your living room because they are still having a wonderful time.

Taking vocalists from various locales and spiraling electronica and percussion around them, eccodek creates their trademark dub-influenced sound. The vocals are primarily from Asia, Africa and the Middle East and are brought to life on stage through the creative expertise and trippy sonic goo of Deliveryboy who also lends his talents to many other projects.

Staying true to their recordings, eccodek's live performance does not provide many surprises as the songs flow easily from one into the other. This evening's performance had the percussion microphones turned up giving the music more weight than usual.

McPherson has surrounded himself with strong musicians, who, like many in their field juggle one or two other bands on the side. Ever the showman, frontman Andrew McPherson, known for his banter about being stoned and corny jokes, loves to create a circus feel on stage, pounding the keys with his rock star aspirations. Witnessing his high energy and frenetic playing, it is hard to believe he is almost 50. This presence provides a stark but interesting contrast with his low-key bandmates and the soothing, mellow sounds the band plays. For their performance, eccodek played a number of selections from their two albums, More Africa In Us and Voices Have Eyes.
Andrew McPherson
Brent Rowan, a talented saxophonist and teacher, was weaving some sexy, jazzy saxophone work on many of the pieces. Jim Knight was good-humoured, as always, while being drawn into on-stage repartee with Andrew. His strong and precise bass playing was stellar — while supporting CIUT with his well co-ordinated ensemble. It would be great to see Steve Clark let loose on the drums in a more rock-oriented atmosphere but, as required, he was deftly keeping the beat and doing some amazing work in the background. Jason Shute, on percussion, plays as if he glided out of the womb with a djembe attached to his palms, so natural is his musical timing and feeling for the rhythm.

"Voices Have Eyes", the one song from the albums for which McPherson wrote the lyrics, cautions "When all is in silence. Voices are windows that carry our words out to the people. Seen but never heard...A fate so familiar. A world away". The intoxicating vocals of Meral Mert Bakar, singing in turkish, transported the room that evening to another dimension with her whirling, improvised chants, soaking the above lyrics in mystery.

A number of people were grooving to the easy sounds during eccodek's set. What could have been a larger crowd suffered from the timing as people kept streaming in and out of the room — not quite ready for the slow ambient sounds eccodek was delivering. Ultimately, their performance would have had more impact as a closing act to send the audience gently into the night at evening's end.

Kobo Town
With the arrival of Kobo Town onto the stage, the room immediately took on a much cozier aura. Frontman Drew Gonsalves, known for his warmth and connection with his audience relates stories of his birthplace of Trinidad and his experiences as an immigrant coming to Canada which provides material for, and paints a backdrop to, his songs.

Drew and his bandmates have a wonderful on-stage flow as they immerse themselves in delivering the message of the music to their fans. Kobo Town, named after a city in Trinidad, is known in theory as a calypso or kaiso band. Yet, in reality, their music is so diverse with influences from jazz, blues, reggae, psychedelia and roots, and the list keeps growing, that the judges at this year's Canadian Music Week were confused about where to classify them. And if they're confused....Sadly, this confusion delayed their entry into the competition at this year's Indie Music Awards.

Always respectful and humble, Drew was effusive in his thankfulness for the support of CIUT and especially of Station Programmer Ken Stowar, dedicating the songs “Abatina” and “Trinity” to each.

Drew Gonsalves
Drew's warmth on stage consistently draws in his audience as if he is welcoming them into his living room with a warm, inviting hug. Combined with his powerful lyrics which serve as the hot toddy -- who can resist?

So powerful are his lyrics that a University of Toronto professor, so moved upon hearing his songs, invited Drew to speak to his class. Drew's lyrics, stirring yet heart-wrenchingly poetic, touch upon many powerful topics. Some examples of which are: Blood and Fire 'from Gaza to Jaffna, blood and fire. Soweto to Rio, blood and fire. La Paz to Chiapas, blood and fire. Karachi to Dili, blood, blood, blood and fire. Corbeaux Following 'and all of the corbeaux following me...I run and hide, but high in the sky I see the corbeaux following...'. The Corbeaux are large black vultures found in the Caribbean.

Along with the above excerpts of songs dealing with 'vultures' in society and the war-torn areas in the world, he also deals with the issues of abuse (Abatina) and consumerism (Beautiful Soul) among many others. What is surprising with Kobo Town's music is that these unbelievably moving lyrics are combined with such diverse and joyous music that sometimes one is unsure whether to cry or dance when confronted with Kobo Town's oeuvres.

Getting back to the music, in one song Drew literally became possesed. The music flowed like a fountain from his soul as he and his guitar became one. The audience was visibly disappointed that it did not last longer.

Cesco Emmanuel's prowess (on lead guitar) with the wah-wah pedal created some very sexy sounds. Roger Williams on bass kept things grounded while Stich Wynston on drums provided enough beats to provide interest but not enough to tip the delicate balance.

Each piece played sent the audience on a different aural path throughout the evening. One tune with Joe Jackson influences flooded the stage with jump boogie influences and wah-wah pedal spiciness adding to the sexiness, elliciting blanket-wrapped-in-front-of-the-fire 'ooohhs' from the rapt audience. Later on, 'Trinity' tossed creative stops and starts blending with a smooth cyclical rotation between the two guitars electrifying the stage as the crowd cheered like schoolchildren. It ended with such a powerful and sudden stop that many heads snapped back in surprise. Sending the energy on another tangent, the next piece showcased a heavenly sprinkle of bells, providing a sheer layer of sound calling to mind some of Rush's expertise with sound but on a much more intimate level.

Cesco Emmanuel
Turning the mood again, 'Postcard Poverty', with its acoustic introspective introduction was so haunting that the room fell almost silent with rapt attention.

Drew is a master at drawing crowds in and wrapping them up in the delicious sounds without tramping all over the music or sacrificing the mood with unrelated and unecessary banter. He plays guitar and cuatro and sings in addition to writing all the songs.

Between the members, there were many call and response numbers throughout the evening and one, 'Henry Marshall', in which the audience was drawn in, as dogs to their master, to shyly but enthusiastically participate.

On this evening, there were innumerable memorable guitar moments with Chet Atkins flair such as a point in 'Henry Marshall' that stopped the audience in its dancing boots as a wave of did-you-just hear-that? Amazed 'ahhhs' dispersed throughout the room. At the end of their performance, the audience, with its ovational applause and cheering, was visibly thirsty for another drink of Kobo Town's rum punch. But, unfortunately, due to the time constraints the audience was left in drought mode as the encore they were demanding was not to be had.

Maracatu Nunca Antes
Kobo Town was barely off the stage when the volcano of Maracatu Nunca Antes lava-d the room with their thunderous entrance.

As Maracatu has its roots in the Congo procession, it was only fitting that this 14-piece percussive group would begin their performance with a dramatic parade from the front doors, through the bar and onto the stage. So dynamic was their entrance that the walls practically burst with the energy.

This Afro-Brazilian percussion group, or baque (maracatu percussion and song) founded by Aline Morales and partner Alex Bordokas in 2002 is currently led by Morales. Being an Alfaias group, it has a bass drum emphasis.

Encompassing every aspect of the performance scenario, this group has dynamite vocals, head-rocking-inside-a-cannon percussion and an electrifying stage presence.

Each song follows a standard pattern: the soloist belts out a song with the rest of the troupe answering with a refrain. Watching this group perform is akin to watching the finalists in the Miss Universe pageant where everyone looks and sounds fabulous and has received coaching on proper stage presence. The militaristic discipline required to be part of this group is evident in their execution of the music.

Aline Morales
Maracatu Nunca Antes performed a short set which was so intense that much more would have been overload for the senses. It would be a wonderful experience to hear them perform in the outdoors. This is a terrific group to play at the beginning of the evening to awaken an audience. With the intensity of this last band, the crowd was practically catapulted onto the street once the set ended.

At the end of this musically diverse evening which provided the audience with a cornucopia for the senses, people streamed out onto the street energized and invigorated. The bands had all generously donated their time to the celebrations for this evening. Lula Lounge is a perfect venue for any event and especially this evening's with its wonderful sound system which, under the adept direction of Howard Laurie was showcased in all its glory. For CIUT's 20th Anniversary celebration, Station Programmer Ken Stowar assembled a wonderful group of talented musicians showcasing the diversity of the local music scene in Toronto and the wide range of programming that CIUT provides to its listeners.

We welcome your comments and feedback
Laila Boulos
• • • • • •
Roger Humbert
• •
The Live Music Report

| Home | Archives | CD Reviews | Photo Galleries | Concert Listings | Contact |

Please contact us to secure permission for use of any material found on this website.
© The Live Music Report – 2007