It was Kobo Town’s live outdoor performance in Montreal in 2017 that inspired me to compose Upbeat. That July evening was perfect in so many respects. The weather cooperated, the audience was fully engaged, and if you were close to the stage, as I was, the music totally enveloped you and the beat resounded in your chest. You went away from the performance feeling exhilarated, inspired and really hopeful about the world in general.
My wife and I were already in Quebec and were determined not to miss Kobo Town’s performance, particularly as the band’s lead guitarist, Cesco Emmanuel, has contributed his superb guitar playing to so many of my compositions. If you have never attended a live Kobo Town performance, try to remedy that omission! This Juno Award-winning group’s world music is bound to lift your spirits.
In the days following the Kobo Town performance I composed and recorded a new tune incorporating the soca calypso beat. Later at the studio, with arranger Brian Gagnon manning the computers, the next version of Upbeat was laid down with full percussion.
Brian was the drummer and when I gave him the soca calypso beat I wanted, I asked that it be recorded in such a way that if played loud enough, it would be “felt in your chest.”
The tune was played for film director Lisa Mann. Lisa had directed the award-winning short film Change for Chimps, which featured Jane Goodall and had my music (accompanied by Cesco's guitar) as soundtrack. Lisa came up with the charming feel-good scenario you see here, featuring Learie Mc Nicolls in the lead role. I do hope it makes you smile.
Upbeat is the opening track on my new CD, Soundtracks in the Sand, to be released this fall.