KONGOS – multi-cultural, multi-faceted multi-instrumentalists – will be rockin’ the Main Stage, presented by 97.3 KBCO, at the 34th annual A Taste of Colorado, produced by the Downtown Denver Partnership, on Sunday, Sept. 3 at 1:30 p.m. The free, four-day festival is known for its mouth-watering cuisine as well as its variety of musicians and performers, and will take place over Labor Day weekend, Sept. 1-4, in Downtown Denver’s Civic Center Park.
KONGOS’ life story is as cinematic and captivating as their songs. The siblings, who range in age from 25 (Danny) to 32 (Johnny), were born to popular ’70s South African/ British singer-songwriter John Kongos (“He’s Gonna Step On You Again,” “Tokoloshe Man”). Spending their early childhood in London, then South Africa before settling in Phoenix, Arizona, in the mid-’90s, the boys were exposed to a wide variety of sounds. “We listened to everything from classical and opera like Puccini to African tribal music to ’60s and ’70s pop and rock,” says Dylan, who cites African bassist Richard Bona, Béla Fleck’s Victor Wooten, and singing players like Sting and Paul McCartney as influences. His rhythm section partner, Jesse, who studied jazz at ASU (as did Johnny), remembers learning boogie-woogie and classical piano as a child before getting into African drums, then jazz greats like Jack DeJohnette.
The four brothers have been rising in popularity since the release of their 2012 album, “Lunatic.” Completely self-contained, they write, produce, engineer and mix/master their music as well as direct, shoot and edit all their own music videos. Hardly hermits, since debuting at a high school talent show in 2003 (covering “Eleanor Rigby”!), beginning in 2007 KONGOS played out incessantly, focusing on building a following in Phoenix, garnering local airplay, West Coast tours, and eventually coveted slots at SXSW and CMJ. The years of dedication paid off; in 2011, hanging in the studio, the brothers decided to email a few songs to South African radio stations. 5FM, the biggest Top 40 station in South Africa, playlisted “I’m Only Joking,” which hit No. 1 on the rock chart and was the most requested song for 11 weeks in a row.
The band also agreed that they were happy with “Lunatic” being a diverse record: “We each have different styles and personalities, so we embrace that. We have a KONGOS sound, which is not exactly assigned, but we have an essence, a picture in our mind of what it will sound like.” The press concurs, praising the band’s “classic rock elements, African rhythms and Balkan beats” and their “incontestable youthful talent…and emotional outpourings.” With the diversity of food, music, and entertainment at A Taste of Colorado, KONGOS is the perfect addition to the Labor Day weekend that people of all ages and cultures can enjoy.