Vocals, acoustic guitars, percussion
Roger Gibbs was born into a musical family and formed his first band at fourteen. At eighteen years he became the lead singer, keyboardist and arranger for the Sandpebbles, a popular Barbadian dance band that had a string of hits and toured widely across the Caribbean, Canada and the USA. Roger shared the stage with Caribbean greats like Lord Kitchener, Mighty Sparrow, Byron Lee & The Dragonaires, Johnny Nash, Tomorrow’s Children, Kalyan, Jackie Opel and many of the leading performers and bands in Caribbean.
Moving to Canada in 1986, Roger reconnected with his calypso roots, singing in the annual Toronto calypso tents (music series) and worked freelance with a wide variety of acts, such as Anne Lederman (Canadian fiddler) Come From Every Way Band, the late Achilla Orru (Ugandan lokembe master), Moka (Latin & Calypso quintet), La Petite Musicale, Heritage Singers (Caribbean folk choirs), Kobena Aquaa-Harrison (African guitarist), Franc Mosbaugh (pop singer/musician), the Abbey North Drummers (world music drumming ensemble), the Liquidaires (ska, reggae, jazz, funk band), and with several leading calypso singers. He founded and was Musical Director of Banja (Caribbean folk choir) and later the leader and arranger for Mo’Banja, an a cappella calypso quartet. He was a performing member of one of Canada’s top dance/theatre companies COBA (Collective of Black Artists) from 1995 – 2013.
Roger has recorded three CD’s: ‘Spirit of Calypso’ (2000), a critically-acclaimed album of his original compositions and traditional songs, ‘Calypso Classics on Guitar – vol. 1’ (2004), a collection of Sparrow and Kitchener hits arranged for classical guitar, and ‘Hot So’ (2012) with his band Shak Shak, another album of mostly his original calypso and Caribbean Acoustic songs. In 2012 Gibbs was awarded a special award from the Toronto Caribbean Carnival for his contribution to the development of Calypso in Canada.
Alto sax, accordion, keyboards
Chris Wilson, Phd. is an ethnomusicologist who recently graduated from the University of Toronto with a dissertation that studied professional songwriters in Nashville, Tennessee. His Masters research at York University in Toronto examined the Toronto steelband scene as a diasporic practice. His educational background is in composition (U of Toronto MusBac) and he has developed the music for over 30 plays and dance choreographies.
Chris has for the last twenty years been a multi-instrumentalist, teacher, ensemble coach, songwriter, composer and active member of the diverse international music community in Toronto. He currently works as music director with Shadowland Theatre, Clay and Paper Theatre and the Professionals Calypso Tent, has an active private teaching practice and directs three bands: The Liquidaires (West Indian Jazz), Shak Shak (Calypso and Caribbean Folk) and The Jeremiahs (Americana and Old Time Country).
Originally from New Brunswick, Wes developed his love of the upright bass during jazz studies at STFXU in Nova Scotia, leading him to further explorations at the New England Conservatory in Boston. Needing a ‘vacation’, he then spent 6 years floating the Caribbean seas (on cruise ships), backing both guest entertainers and in-house bands. Arriving in Toronto in 1998, he applied his experiences to the musical mosaic of the city with the mantra “anything, as long as its on the upright!”
This led Wes to perform, record, tour and collaborate with artists of various genres including: Ken Aldcroft and Kyle Brenders (improv/jazz), Scott Marshall (modern jazz), Kevin Quain, Erika Werry (folk/pop), Raoul Bhaneja (blues), Big Rude Jake (swing), and Shak Shak (calypso). Career highlights include recordings with British saxophonist Evan Parker and touring with Jill Barber.
Raised country, educated in jazz, coming of age backing Sha-Na-Na and the 5th Dimension, Wes is a multi-genred upright bassman who can find the groove in any situation.
Tenor sax, clarinet, flutes
Jim Bish is a graduate of Humber College music program in woodwind performance. His theatre experience includes stints as both a performer and Musical Director with the Stratford Festival, Clay and Paper Theatre, Shadowland Theatre and Theatre Archipelago. He has recorded extensively for film, television and animation soundtracks.
Versed in many musical genres and styles, he has appeared on over 150 albums and plays over 200 live dates a year as a freelance woodwind player (he is equally proficient on saxophone, clarinet and flute), and with his regular groups Taxi Chain (Celtic rock) and Shak Shak (calypso).
Congas; Bongos; Timbales; Surdo; Tamborim; Pandeiro; Berimbau; Agogo; Cow Bells; Shakers; Triangles; and Miscellaneous Other Percussion instruments.
Born into a musical family in his native Trinidad and Tobago, Tony studied classical piano from the age of 8. He was always drawn however, to the rich folk and popular music of his twin island home, and by his late teens was playing with one of Trinidad’s top steelbands, Silver Stars. After relocating to Canada for a university education, Tony’s passion for music led him to play with some of Toronto’s leading steelbands; and to perform on keyboards and percussion with different jazz and world music ensembles, all part of the vibrant music scene in Toronto.
Jazz singer Salome Bey invited Tony to perform with her at Toronto’s Colonial Tavern in 1975 and catalyzed his specialization as a percussionist. Tony points to Ralph MacDonald and Paulinho DaCosta as major influences in this period. Tony has since developed a reputation as a superb “colour” percussionist, playing with the likes of Mike Boothman, Robert Bailey, Clive Zanda, Carlton Zanda, Len “Boogsie” Sharpe, and Raf Robertson in the Caribbean “Kaiso Jazz” and “Pan Jazz” idioms. Tony also performed with various Toronto jazz fusion groups like the Paul Christopher Band and the Carlton Vaughn Band. He is a founding member of the Toronto based Brazilian style bateria, Samba Squad; he performs as a percussionist with calypso ensemble, Shak Shak; and now leads the contemporary jazz sextet, Kalabash.
Tony minored in ethno-musicology while studying Computer Science at York University in Toronto, exploring World Music and West African percussion, and also did a stint as musical director of the campus based Yorktones Steelband.