Doko Benjo
Gig Seeker Pro

Doko Benjo

Band Rock Funk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Doko Benjo brings its rock/funk"

Doko Benjo brings its rock/funk to House of Blues

Times Correspondent | Friday, December 28, 2007

Unlike many aspiring musicians hungry for fame, Cary Kanno, guitarist for rising Windy City rockers Doko Benjo and jazz-hoppers Abstract Giants, is in no hurry to find his commercial peak with each of his groups.

"It seems like in both bands, we just keep going up and we haven't plateaued yet," he said.

"It's a slow, steady climb. It's not like there's been any skyrocketing recognition. And it's nice that it's been that way."

Opening for long-running eclectic rockers Rusted Root Sunday at Chicago's House of Blues, Kanno has spent six years up and down the frets for Abstract Giants.

The band has built up a fan base throughout Chicagoland with performances everywhere from Metro to Taste of Chicago, and in October, it released its second studio set, "Unearthed."

About three and a half years ago, Kanno got together at a North Side bar with a handful of longtime friends who were all fellow musicians and decided to form a band of their own.

Taking its name from the Japanese translation of "where's the bathroom?" ("It has a nice ring to it," Kanno said, laughing)," Doko Benjo is rounded out by vocalist Amy Totch, guitarist Willis Wendell, drummer Matt Spooner, bassist Rusty Ehler, trombonist Geoff Lewis, saxophonist Dave Schacht and trumpet player Bryan Ewing.

When pressed, Kanno described Doko Benjo's music as a hybrid of rock and funk.

"We like to try and push the envelope as far as pop and rock music goes," he said.

"We try to introduce different elements to our music beyond just the 4/4 rhythm, and we try to mix things up melodically and make the music more intricate."

Last year, Doko Benjo released a 10-song EP, "Kitty Litter." Members currently are at work on what will be their first full-length set, which they hope to release in 2008.

"Ever since we've gotten together, I like to think that we've gotten better and better as we go along," Kanno said.

"We're a lot better of a band now than we were when we recorded that first CD."

On Jan. 19, Kanno will join his Abstract Giants mates for a showcase at Chicago's Metro in online entertainment and gambling Web site Bodog's regional "Battle of the Bands" contest.

Winners of the nationally run contest, Kanno said, will receive a $1 million recording contract from the Web site.

For more information on the band, go to

Sunday headliners Rusted Root continue to tour together on a regular basis as well as pursue individual music projects. The band is scheduled to perform Feb. 22 with award-winning Christian rockers Newsboys Feb. 22 at Merrillville's Star Plaza Theatre. - NW Indiana Times

"Doko Benjo"

Casual Listening Extra 11-14-08

Casual Listening


Doko Benjo – Doko Benjo (world)

A globally-inspired, horn-driven ensemble that you’d be crazy not to dance to. Elements of funk, Afrobeat, salsa, jam rock, and a pinch of hip hop make this a party waiting to happen. I have yet to see them live, but it’s a sound that’s built for the immediacy of a club.

Listen to Doko Benjo “Funk Bus” - Casual Listening

"DOKO BENJO: Hot Soup"

Listen to Doko Benjo's "Hot Soup"

By Jennifer Wagner For RedEye

June 4, 2008

Doko Benjo can be found at
For Doko Benjo, eight is enough.

Together for about a year in their current manifestation, Doko Benjo is an eight-piece gaggle of good times featuring drummer Matt Spooner; bassist Rusty Ehler; guitarist Willy Wendell, and, deep breath--Dave Schacht, Geoff Lewis and Brian Ewing on saxophone, trombone and trumpet, respectively; singer Amy Totsch; and Cary Kanno on vocals and guitar.

"It's hard to find stages that fit us," Kanno said. "There are a lot of places we can't play." No kidding.

Spooner, who has a music degree from Northwestern, started out on piano at 4 years old. By the 5th grade, he caught on to the idea that playing an instrument a bit less refined might help him move up in the cool ranks at school, so he started playing the drums.

"Classical piano is kind of geeky, so I had to get something else going," Spooner explained.

Kanno helpfully embellishes, "He was tired of being called a sissy."

Bit by the music and hipster bugs, Spooner took to exploring his talents even more, so he picked up--what else?--guitar.

Kanno chimed in with a heated whisper, "For the girls ..."

All joking aside, wooing your love interest with a song is a timeless maneuver, but exactly how do the Benjo bandmates fare with an acoustic serenade? Spooner actually does OK.

"[It works] sometimes, you know, get a little Dave Matthews Band going on," he said. "I mean, if they're already in your place listening to you play ... it's better than 50/50."

Kanno has not done so well.

"I've used that a couple of times, the acoustic, but [my success rate] is much less ..." he said.

When they're not in the pursuit of romance, Spooner and Kanno hit the summer festival circuit with the band.

"We're a good festival band," Kanno said. "We've got the horn section; we're upbeat; we're family-friendly; you know, we make a good scene."

[ Jennifer Wagner is a RedEye special contributor. ] - Chicago Red Eye/ Metromix


Doko Benjo - Kitty Litter
Doko Benjo - self titled



Doko Benjo was formed by a group of friends on chilly night in November of 2004. From the get go their infectious funky rock grooves impressed fans and critics alike. They have played such venues as House of Blues, The Metro, Double Door, and many festival gigs throughout the midwest.

After releasing several EP's, they released their first full length LP in the summer of 2008. It is commonly known as the self titled album "Doko Benjo". The songs go beyond the standard 4/4 pop/ rock/funk formula, incorporating more challenging and interesting musical ideas yet remain aurally accessible to an everyday listener.