KES’ IZWE FESTIVAL IS SET FOR FEB. 14 IN TRINIDAD
Trinidad & Tobago soca music stars and Caribbean culture ambassadors Kes (aka Kes The Band) have shared their latest single “Honey Comb” featuring Jamaica’s Busy Signal and Haiti’s Michaël Brun. The dancehall-inspired track, which premiered Thursday night on BBC1Xtra with Seani B, is out now on all DSPs.
Both Busy Signal and Michaël Brun are set to join Kes as they ring in the return of Trinidad Carnival at their IzWE Festival, happening Tuesday, February 14th at Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba, Trinidad.
Other announced performers include Shaggy (who just collaborated with Kes on his latest, “Mood”), soca stars Nailah Blackman, Olatunji, Iwer George, Erphaan Alves, Mical Teja, Viking Ding Dong, Rikki Jai and Ravi B, as well as friends and collaborators from Kes’ extended family like NYC-based Trinidadian trumpeter Etienne Charles, 91-year-old calypso legend Lord Nelson and rising island-pop talent Jimmy October.
The festival, which falls on Valentine’s Night, will showcase the diversity of music from Trinidad & Tobago and the broader Caribbean, with two alternate stages, dubbed Sun (mainstage) and Moon (auxiliary). While the Sun stage hosts Kes The Band and other headliners, the Moon stage will showcase alternative acts outside the norm of what is typically presented during Caribbean Carnival, including Keshav, Coutain, Annalie Prime and Orange Sky.
Adding to the event’s pan-Caribbean flavor are Haiti’s JPerry, Barbados’ King Bubba FM and St Lucia’s Teddyson John, as well as Laventille Rhythm Section, whose instrumental “engine room” sound is the ultimate expression of Trinidad Carnival culture. “For the concert, I tried my very best to expand the sound beyond the soca,” said Kes The Band frontman Kees Dieffenthaller, who is also known individually as Kes. “I want to carry people through a bit of the journey from where we came.”
Kes launched IzWE (pronounced “Is We”) in 2021 as a series of five, socially-distanced concerts during what would have been Carnival Week 2021. The intimate, limited-capacity shows were the first sanctioned live music events held in Trinidad & Tobago following the start of the pandemic one year earlier.
Kes has since exported IzWE to New York City and Toronto, in 2021 and 2022, respectively, with some 8,000 fans attending each event.
With IzWE 2023, the band is set to bring the show back home to Trinidad on the Tuesday before Trinidad & Tobago Carnival — the same calendar spot where Kes held its annual Carnival season concert from 2014 to 2020 (the last year Carnival was held).
Trinidad & Tobago Carnival, or Trinidad Carnival for short, is widely known as the Caribbean’s biggest and best carnival celebration, and the inspiration for cultural festivals like Notting Hill Carnival in London and Toronto’s Caribana. Held annually on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, the event is known for participants’ colorful costumes and exuberant street celebrations, as well as the soca music that provides its soundtrack.
With Trinidad Carnival returning after three years — 2021 marked its first cancellation since WWII — anticipation for its arrival, as well as the fetes and concerts that lead up to the main event, is sky high. As is the demand for new soca and seasonal sounds.
Kes has certainly supplied that demand with six new tracks in under two months. In addition to “Honey Comb,” the group has released “Feelin It” (with Patrice Roberts), “Mental Day,” “Jub Jub” and “Fuh Spite,” along with the Shaggy collaboration, “Mood,” all of which can be heard HERE.
Produced by Brun (with whom the group previously collaborated on 2022’s “Liki Tiki”), “Honey Comb” is Kes’ final release for the season. Their forthcoming LP, Man With No Door, is set for release later this year on Ineffable Records.