Muhammad Muwakil, main vocalist of the popular Trinidad and Tobago band Freetown Collective, made his first visit to Japan for the 70th anniversary Kochi Yosakoi Festival held on August 10 and 11, 2023! This was his first performance with the band(yosakoi team) Canavalava. Canavalava is a new band(team) collaborated with “Canaval,” which fuses Caribbean Carnival culture, known as one of the world’s three major carnivals, with Kochi’s Yosakoi culture, and “Ava” whose full name “Artists Apartment Village”, a complex facility that opened in Kochi City in the summer of 2023. “Canaval” is a unique band(team) produced and established in 2008 by Selector Hemo, one of the writers of this site. The team’s theme song for this year was “MAS” sung by Freetown led by Muhammad Muwakil, a song that was very popular at Trinidad Carnival 2023.
Muhammad performed in a concert held in connection with Canada’s popular carnival “Caribana” and made his way to Japan for the very first time. He did not land in Tokyo, but in Kochi.
On August 9, after enjoying famous bonito tataki at Hirome Market, a tourist attraction in Kochi,
he participated in Canavalava’s rehearsal, and was amazed at the dancers practicing so hard.
After that, he performed at the “Yosakoi Matsuri Eve Party” @ AVA
The songs were as follows,
Feel this (acoustic guitar version)
Space for a Heart (acoustic guitar version)
Feel the love
He performed “MAS” again for encore!
Before singing “Feel this” he talked to the audience about the meaning of Carnival, saying, “Carnival these days may have a flashy image, but I want you to know that it originated from the emancipation of slaves”. He also talked about the history of Carnival.
The first session with DJ selector HEMO went great and audience was enjoying his singing voice with acoustic guitar.
They were especially excited by Soca’s hit “Feel the Love” and this year’s their theme song “Mas”
It was a night where everyone felt the pleasant vibes he presented with the warmth of his voice.
The next day was August 10, came the first day of Yosakoi for the first time in 4 years!
The first performance was at Umegatsuji.
Some of the members who had unlucky flight cancellation due to a typhoon that was hitting Kochi on 9th finally arrived in Kochi in the evening.
Last venue was at Atago, where it started to rain hard and we had to perform in pouring rain…but the first day ended successfully.
Then came the second day of the Yosakoi Festival!
The Yanagimachi Street was filled with not only Yosakoi songs but also various SOCA songs, making the place look like a carnival in Trinidad and Tobago! This venue is famous for its openness where audience and dancers all come together and dance, and since the days of CANAVAL, it has been a band/team’s specialty
It was the first time in six years that I was able to feel and say, “this is the festival” and “this is the carnival” in Japan.
For both Mr. Muhammad and Canavalava, these 3 days spent together in Kochi was a great opportunity to experience each other’s festival culture and to witness a carnival like never before.