KONGOS hits the big time, heads to Crystal Bay in May

KONGOS
KONGOS will perform for the first time at Lake Tahoe on May 18. Before it was a music venue, the Crystal Bay Casino’s Crown Room was a bowling alley.

KONGOS, the multi-cultural, multi-talented alt-rock band of brothers with roots in London, Johannesburg (and Phoenix), is headed to the Crystal Bay Casino for a Thursday, May 18, debut performance in the Crown Room.

Tickets are $18.35 plus fees. Sales at Ticketmaster start at 10 a.m. Friday. The opening band is Mother Mother, a five-piece indie group from Vancouver, B.C.

Listen to the opening accordian riff on “Come With Me Now” and you’ll realize you’ve heard these guys. That song rose to No. 1 on the alternative-rock charts, pushing KONGOS into the mainstream.

Brothers Johnny, Jesse, Dylan and Danny Kongos comprise the all-in-the-family band. Now hailing from Arizona, they are the sons of John Kongos, a South African singer and songwriter popular in the early 1970s (“He’s Gonna Step On You Again” and “Tokoloshe Man”).

Tahoe Onstage
KONGOS are heading to Lake Tahoe.

The brothers spent their formative years in England and South Africa, moving to Phoenix in 1996 when the youngest sibling, Danny, was 8. They attended high school there and went on to Arizona State University.

Crystal Bay Club and Devildog Productions announced the Lake Tahoe tour stop on Monday. KONGOS will hit the North Shore music mecca just two weeks after appearing at the iconic Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis. The Lake Tahoe show is expected to sell out.

The musicians all are multi-instrumentalists and they share singing and songwriting duties. Johnny plays accordion and keyboards, Danny handles guitar, Jesse is the drummer/percussionist and Dylan plays bass and lap slide guitar.

Their influences are many and varied, from the South African sounds of urban kwaito music to The Beatles, The Police, Bob Dylan and Bob Marley, to Bach and Chopin.

Johnny Kongos makes the accordion sing like nothing short of zydeco, adding to the glistening guitar work and sometimes tribal drumming of his brothers. Guitarist Danny explained that it’s not a Lawrence Welk kind of rendition.

“The accordion has just had a bad recent history, whether it’s with … bad polka or bad mariachi,” he told The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, California.

“In reality, if you ever sit in front of an accordion and hear the instrument, it’s unbelievable. It’s one of the most incredible instruments. It’s got all these reeds and all these overtones and undertones and it’s just a beautiful instrument. It just needs to be used right.”

KONGOS self-released its “Lunatic” album in 2012, which includes the hits “I’m Only Joking,” along with “I Want To Know,” and “Come With Me Now.” Epic Records re-released the album in 2014, and “Come With Me Now,” eventually struck a chord with fans in the United States, garnering ample radio time.

Initially, the band had promoted the songs in South Africa, and “I’m Only Joking” became instantly in demand there. Its newest album, “Egomaniac,” was released in 2016, featuring the singles “Take It From Me” and “I Don’t Mind.”

The band of brothers continues to record in the family’s studio in Phoenix, but KONGOS has branched out from a strong local following in Paradise Valley, Arizona, and taken its show on the road across the country, while still remaining a huge draw overseas.

Come with them now to the Crown Room.

-Randy Hashagen

  • KONGOS
    Opener: Mother Mother
    When: 8 p.m. Thursday, May 18
    Where: Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room
    Tickets: $18.35, on sale at 10 a.m. Friday


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