Gig Seeker Pro


Phoenix, Arizona, United States

Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Band Rock Pop


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



"Music-critic.com Review"

Talk about a cultured band of brothers. John J, Jesse, Dylan and Daniel Kongos, of the band Kongos (ironic, huh?) grew up in London, South Africa and now live, write and record in Phoenix, Arizona. Not only that, but John J and Jesse played in several jazz and fusion groups while attending Arizona State University and now they’ve brought in their two younger brothers to form a solid pop self-titled debut album, with a secret weapon.

"The Trouble Is," hints at that same secret weapon, but keeps it in the background while delivering a climactic ending to a piece of radio-friendly pop perfection.

The next gritty rocker, "The Way," is where the accordion breaks out into an all out firestorm taking the group from "pretty good" to "this is friggin’ awesome!" The accordion adds a polka flavor (which naturally makes this Polish boy happy), but it fits surprisingly well and adds a depth to the music that I have never heard before. (Honestly, though, who would have thought that an accordion could add so much?)

The best track on the album is "Another Daydream" where lead singer Dylan Kongos laments about how "Ten thousand people disappear tonight/ Under the daydream with no end in sight." The component that makes this track stand out is the string arrangement by John J. The song ends with a staccato string portion that should cement it’s place in the next big superhero movie.

They do explore a little bit without completely abandoning their jazz roots. The bluesy "Remember Me" showcases the odd rhythms that they incorporated into their jazz & fusion groups, while "Nothing" keeps a pulsing percussive beat with the sing-along chorus of "Don’t let me down."

Kongos are bound to make it big. Their songs are radio-ready and they have a frickin’ kickin’ accordian! On their self-titled debut, these four brothers prove that they are ready to take the torch from their multi-million selling father, John Kongos, and make it burn even brighter.

- Tim Wardyn

"Leonard's Lair Review"

When a father with a prestigious musical past announces that his sons are forming a band, the percentage of success is usually smaller than it should be as the children struggle to do justice to their parents' name. Happily, Kongos, the quartet of sons of 1970's singer/songwriter John Kongos (he of 'He's Gonna Step On You Again' and 'Tokoloshe Man' fame) are an immensely talented bunch of individuals. The music may reek of old-fashioned excesses in its arrangements, rock histrionics and balladry but rarely has this been done in such an exciting way.
Twenty year-old Dylan Kongos' vocals are blessed with the maturity of someone twice his age, youngest sibling Daniel's guitars are strident and melodic, John J is the king of the keys whilst Jesse handles drums and main songwriting duties. What songs they are too! Wondrous centrepiece 'Another Daydream' is superbly arranged, 'I've Been Here Before' is all over the place musically but brilliantly so whilst 'What About You' is a piano-led finale with an unforgettably haunting melody and another genuine spine-tingler. As well as the incontestable youthful talent, what impresses even more is the controlled emotional outpourings: the vulnerabilia of 'The Trouble Is', the sense of loss on 'Nothing' and the stunning ballad 'Curious'. Suffice to say, Dad must be very proud indeed.
- Jonathan Leonard

"20th Century Guitar Review"

Speaking of glaring omissions from the Elektra box, 36 years ago, London-based John Kongos released one of that label’s most illustrious progressive pop imports. Entitled Kongos, that ‘71 John Kongos album on Elektra featured amazing production of Gus Dudgeon and excellent guitars by Caleb Quaye. Also simply titled Kongos, this 2007 CD is the debut group recording of John’s four sons—Dylan Kongos (vocals, guitar), Jesse Kongos (drums), John J. Kongos (keyboards) and Daniel Kongos (guitars). With their famous father as executive producer and on backing vocals, the 2007 Kongos is a cool and entertaining spin that evokes their dad’s adventurous ‘71 Kongos album yet stakes out some new musical terrain one generation down the line. With the Kongos clan all based in Arizona these days, it’s even more enlightening to witness the inherent wealth and musical aptitude in the new Kongos generation. The songs stick, the vocals are compelling and that Kongos beat can still mesmerize. - Robert Siverstein

"The-Mag.co.uk Review"

This is certainly a family album. Not only does every member of the band bear the last name Kongos, but all production and engineering credits go to them as well. This band have built a burgeoning reputation recently and it's easy to see why here. The album bristles with intelligently written soulful pop-rock and enough spunk on 'The Music' and 'The Trouble Is' to keep the rock kids happy. Some beautifully creative use of loops and accordion keep everything ticking over nicely.

So, we've seen that they have the 'Rock' down pat, but what about diversity? For this, look no further than 'Another Daydream', as fine a slice of slightly left-field alternative rock balladeering as you're likely to come across all year, and another feather in the band's cap.

Trying to think of comparison points for this band is difficult. There're elements of the gleeful experimentation within the pop framework which has served Gomez so well in the last few years, but Kongos have a slightly slicker feel to them, thanks to the fine vocals of Dylan and Jesse and some well-formed songs which wouldn't sound out of place on Radio 2.
- Haydon S

"Phoenix New Times Write-up"

It took all of 22 seconds of the Kongos’ self-released EP to realize they were courting musical greatness -- and it only took that long because eleven of those seconds were spent hunting the jewel case wondering, “Who are these guys?" Four brothers hailing from London via South Africa, born and raised with a recording studio in their home and music swirling all around them at all times, they were able to dream up a pop-prog-rock world music sound you wouldn’t expect from such a young group and one that no “how-would-you-market-that” elders appear to be attempting. After finally releasing a full length after more than a year of fine-tuning and re-recording tracks, you might expect the Kongos’ zeal for perfect sound might prevent them from playing out. Not only do they recreate the brotherly harmonies, the airy steel pedal, and the richly textured keyboards of that wonderful record with a minimal amount of pre-recorded input, but Kongos inhabit that sound, taking a bar of seemingly indifferent patrons to the place where they conceived this music in the first place, and making them feel like there was a place in it for them, too. - Serene Dominic

"Get Out Magazine Feature"

Kongos deftly blends influences for a complex, catchy CD

Back in 2004, Kongos released what was one of the most impressive EPs in recent Valley music history, a debut containing five songs that were at once brimming with pop hooks yet dizzying in their musical complexity, and the best thing about it was that the band had already begun work on a full-length follow-up CD.

Long-awaited releases are nothing new in the annals of pop music. It took Beach Boys genius Brian Wilson 37 years to finally release “Smile,” and rock fans are still waiting, after nearly 15 years, for Guns N’ Roses guru Axl Rose to release “Chinese Democracy.”

But 2005 and 2006 ticked by with no CD from Kongos, leaving Valley fans and music critics who gushed over the band’s EP to wonder, “What’s going on?”

“We felt like we were almost there with the EP,” says drummer and songwriter Jesse Kongos, who is joined in the Paradise Valley-based band by his brothers Dylan (vocals, guitar), Daniel (guitar) and John J. (keyboards, accordion).

“But we felt we had so much to learn in the meantime — everything from production to the performances — we felt like we just needed to grow a little, so it took a long time because we were doing everything ourselves.”

The band’s self-titled debut full-length CD was finally released in early 2007, and the wait has been worth it. Kongos sounds like no other band, not just in the Valley, but in the whole of mainstream rock music, blending elements of Beatlesque pop, hard-rock riffs, jazzy interludes and the atmospheric rock of bands such as Coldplay and even Pink Floyd, sometimes all in the same song, such as in the standout tracks “Remember Me” and “The Way.”

“Since we didn’t have an outside producer, someone that was skilled in the engineering and the production part of it, we had to learn that process throughout the album,” says Dylan Kongos of the long recording process, which included multiple takes and re-workings of several songs on the disc.

The brothers, who range in age from 18 to 25, literally grew up in their home studios. Their dad is John Kongos, the South African-born and Britain-based singer/songwriter who scored two Top 5 singles in the U.K. in the 1970s with “He’s Gonna Step on You Again” (recently covered by Def Leppard) and “Tokoloshe Man.”

With the complexity of the studio album, how does the band pull everything off live?

“We’ve found ways between the two guitar players and with all the keyboard sounds to basically cover everything,” explains John J.

Besides playing Valley clubs, Kongos has played to enthusiastic crowds at L.A.’s Viper Room and hope to jump on the road this summer with a touring act. And the band has begun work on a new disc.

Valley music fans can only hope it doesn’t take another three years to make.
- Chris Hansen Orf

"Phoenix New Times Feature"

A video on YouTube titled Great Moments in History begins, somberly enough, with the strains of Puccini's Madame Butterfly. All the usual throat-swelling suspects are paid a reverent visit — Kennedy's inaugural address, Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, Elvis on The Ed Sullivan Show, the Beatles at Shea Stadium, Neil Armstrong on the moon, the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, and the release of Nelson Mandela. After tear ducts and heartstrings have been sufficiently tempered, we climax with (cue flashing album cover and iTunes graphics): January 15, 2007, the release date for the Kongos' debut album!

Such an act of unfettered conceit might be enough to extinguish an established recording artist's career in these days of easily hurt feelings and litigated mental distress. As yet, no one's surrounded the Kongos' Phoenix compound with torches and chains, mainly because, since forming a musical partnership five years ago, these four brothers (John Joseph, 26; Jesse, 24; Dylan, 21; and Daniel, 19) have kept a low profile best described as subterranean. Having emerged from their basement studio after two and a half years of woodshedding, they decided to commemorate their greatest moment to date — a self-titled, self-released CD of astonishing beauty and scope — coupled with a joke and a smile.

"Danny put that together, but my dad came up with the general thrust of it," John J. says with a laugh, "putting together the world's greatest moments and then be arrogant buggers about it and put ourselves in the end."

The Kongos brothers are anything but arrogant buggers. Their humble nature leads them to joke about things most new bands keep hidden, like the fact that their fan base probably didn't take the day off on January 16 or that most of their friends on MySpace are the same strippers and shameless self-promoters who've befriended everyone else.

Still, anyone who stumbled upon 2004's Kongos EP would have rightly been hounding the group for a complete album like kids on a road trip asking, "Are we there yet?" It's rare to be in on the ground floor of something that doesn't sound like anything else you might've heard before — a strange mix of world music instrumentation, Pink Floyd atmospherics and psychedelic-period-Beatles harmonies. And their story — unless you want to count The Osmonds and their various smiling spawn groups — is one you've never heard, either.

Their father, John Kongos, has a hallowed history as a British rock star, singer-songwriter, producer, and recording engineer. His 1971 single "He's Gonna Step on You Again" earned him a spot in the British Top Five, the US Top 70 and a mention in the book of Guinness World Records for containing the "first known use of a sample," a looped tribal African beat that Gary Glitter, Adam & the Ants, and Bow Wow Wow built whole careers around.

His songs have been recorded by such diverse artists as Olivia Newton-John, the Happy Mondays, the Muppets, and Def Leppard. Kongos even did all the Fairlight programming for DL's breakthrough 1987 pop metal album, Hysteria.

He married an American fashion model named Shelley, and they raised four sons in London and South Africa before moving the whole clan to Shelley's place of origin: Scottsdale, Arizona. The four boys grew up, learned how to operate dad's home recording studio, and became a self-contained group.

"All the boys grew up with music all around them," John adds. "When we pushed them in their prams around South Africa, they always had classical music playing in the background."

Another key parenting decision John made was letting his sons put some sweat equity into the construction of their home studio, which gave them a better understanding of recording and acoustics.

Had the boys rebelled against their dad as kids often do, John's years of gentle coaxing, playing Eric Satie records in the background, and piano lessons might've backfired, and we could be looking at four certified public accountants named Kongos today.

"The group was always something we knew we were going to do," John J. says. "It was just a question of Dylan and Danny still being in high school. Jesse and I are closer in age, so we started Law of Seven, an experimental jazz thing. As they got older and further along with their music, we started Kongos.

"The first song we played together was 'Cajun Moon,' a JJ Cale song. It was really bad, but it gave us a sense of joy coming out of music. After that, we were able to pursue music at a more serious level, in front of people."

Perhaps their constant pushing for perfection has kept them from playing more shows. Having a state-of-the-art recording studio to forge a group sound is a luxury, but for the Kongos, it has set a standard of sound excellence that doing shows with a club's house P.A. can't hope to meet. Many times, Kongos have done ungodly early sets just so they can get a proper sound check.

"The reason the album took so long was we literally redid every song once or twice," Jesse admits.

"At the end of this album, we learned when to stop, just leave things out," John J. adds. "We're not there yet, but I think it's forced us to make more selective editing decisions."

Some fortuitous kitchen-sink ideas include John J.'s use of the accordion (the second most feared instrument in Western music, just after bagpipes). It gives tracks like "The Way" a crazy klezmer-meets-raga lilt, and his blazing solo seems all the more incredible because John J. hadn't ever played the accordion before.

After trying everything on a song called "Nothing," they decided to pay homage to their dad and their homeland by taking a piece of plywood, throwing African shakers and bells on it, making an eight-bar loop of it, and multitracking it to create a simulated African stamping choir.

At long last, all four Kongos are on the same page musically and promise to be in it for the long haul. Rest assured, they will win hearts, change minds and yes, maybe even freak out some folks with their familial similitude and musical symbiosis.

"In South Africa, we went to a Greek school that's very family-oriented," Jesse says. "When we came here, a lot of people thought it was abnormal that we get along, that we're brothers and we're friends."

"But that's not to say we don't fight," Dylan says. "If it's stupid, we fight about it. When we were younger, the sibling rivalry took a more physical form, punching and hitting. As we grew up, everyone has an ego [and] it took a different form. When we come down to the studio, the rivalry disappears. It's more about creating a good product." - Serene Dominic

"Copperstate Music Feature"

Band of Brothers

"Our music is better than it sounds." Not only does this band have the incredible sound to back this claim up but they also have a great sense of humor stemmed from true humble musicianship. The band Kongos is comprised of four brothers, Dylan (lead vocals/guitar), Danny (guitar/locals), Jesse (drummer), and Johnny (keyboards/accordion), from London and South Africa. "We've been brought up with music and different cultures our whole life, we were surrounded by it, especially African culture," Jesse says of his upbringing. Johnny and Jesse played in jazz fusion groups while attending ASU, but joined with their brothers to form the band.

The band's self proclaimed pop/rock genre does not come close to defining the complexity within their music. "I think music is too associated with fashion, instead of people listening sometimes by themselves and seeing what they actually like, they listen to what they are told to. I think if people listen to music by themselves they will find a whole new world of music that they like." Dylan says of defining music in close-minded terms. The band encourages people to really listen to their music because you never know what you might get turned on to as a result.

Growing up under the wing of their dad, singer/songwriter John Kongos, this band had the musical support of a man with two top 5 singles under his belt. With music in their blood, it only took a small push from dad to convince the guys to pick up their first instrument. "He definitely tried to push us. From age 3 or 4 we did music, but its just like with any kid…you're parents say you have to go to school, our parents said you have to play piano," says Johnny of how his parents pushed them to play music.

Having a home studio (and the ears of a seasoned musician) gave the band the luxury of experimentation and meticulous self reflection that produced the truly unique debut album "Kongos." The sound is reminiscent of 70s folk music with Beatles-inspired pop melodies. What separates this band are the overtones of electronic mixes, accordion solos, and African-inspired beats that make this band stand out amongst your typical "rock band."

The band prides themselves on their eclectic taste in music pulling from well-known artist such as the Beatles and Joni Mitchell to the more obscure (by American music standards) Tinariwen. The band admires that Tinariwen is a nomadic group that "literally gave up there AK47s for Stratocasters." Selected tracks from Coldplay have influenced Dylan whereas Johnny is proud of his collection of Wu-Tang and Snoop Dogg albums. The musical influences range within the band is what creates much of the music's complexity.

In the song "The Way" an accordion solo is featured that brings the song to a completely different level. "It kinda happened by mistake," admits Danny about the introduction of an accordion in their music. Moving against the stigma created from playing the accordion, Johnny Kongos prefers to play it over the keys. "When you're trying to rock out on the piano you have to just sit there but with an accordion I can just be a punk." The band admits that they like the shock from the audience by the appearance of the accordion, but feel it is a real feature to their live show.
"Justin Timberlake is bringing sexy back, well were bringing the accordion back." Jesse confidently interjects.

The band is quickly gaining notoriety around the scene and was voted "Best Rock Band" by the Phoenix New Times. Locally they have played at the last exit, Nita's hideaway, club red and downtown at the modified and the paper heart. The band has also played at LA's famous music club, the Viper Room. The band plans to tour the west coast more and eventually move to Los Angeles where they are going to try and beat the "needle in the haystack" odds of reaching
success as a band.

"When you listen to music that you don't understand what they are talking about you are listening to the music better in some ways, you're not being fooled or have too much emphasis put on the associative things like lyrics that you're being told are sad or happy or whatever, cause it might not be. A lot of the music we listen to we don't know what it's about and don't want to….lyrically" Johnny Kongos

Kongos' next big gig will be a live acoustic performance on the 98 KUPD Jonathan L show, December 22nd. The bands next live show will be December 27th at Sugar Daddy's in Scottsdale. - Kim Milbrandt

"The Beat Surrender Review"

Who the hell are this lot then? Well, they’re four brothers from America (via South Africa and England) and sons of the musician John Kongos. They all play something on the album and they’re all skilled at what they do as well; they haven’t just let brother number four in the band because they felt sorry for him or because they share bedrooms.

One immediate criticism I had was brought about by the album cover. It’s just four strange glossy head shots of the band members (same as the front page of the website). So before I heard any tracks, I have to admit I looked at it and thought it was just an exercise in vanity: “Oh aye, Daddy’s treated the kids to an album, has he?” But I’m just too cynical at times – besides, what’s packaging got to do with how a record sounds?

In the end I really got into it (before my CD got ‘borrowed’ by a mate) – the guys can play, there are some real catchy songs on here and it takes courage to try and create your own music in the shadow of a musical parent. Julian Lennon’s still trying, isn’t he? And he’s got a BIG shadow to deal with.

If you get this, you’ll hear some good guitaring and well structured songs; there’s a lot more going on than you first realise. I love the first track, it’s a belter to open an album and really sticks in the brain. Definitely a grower is this one…I think it’s more ‘Sunday music’ than ‘Friday night’ music, if you catch my drift.



Self-titled debut album: KONGOS
(available on iTunes, Amazon, KONGOS.com and other digital outlets)

Single "In The Music" has been rising up the Tuks FM top 40 in South Africa

Received airplay on Indie 103.1 in Los Angeles, Q101 in Chicago, 98 KUPD and The Edge 103.9 in Phoenix, XFM in the UK, Motor FM in Germany, KNRK 94.7 in Portland and many more.



KONGOS is a rock band of four brothers -- Johnny, Jesse, Dylan and Daniel Kongos. Their music is driven by strong melodies, powerful arrangements, a high level of musicianship and insightful lyrics.

They grew up in London and South Africa and now write, record and perform in Phoenix, Arizona. With multi-million-seller British singer-songwriter John Kongos as their father, they have been surrounded by music, studios and different cultures all of their lives. The four brothers also have a jazz/fusion side-project called Law Of Seven (see www.lawofseven.com) that plays regularly in Phoenix.

Their self-titled debut album was released in 2007 on iTunes worldwide. Written, produced and engineered by themselves, it demonstrates their wide range of influences culminating in the KONGOS sound. In May 2007, they were named Best Rock Band of Phoenix by the Phoenix New Times.

Their single In The Music reached No. 9 on the influential TuksFM Top 40 in South Africa. Other airplay includes Indie 103.1 in Los Angeles, Q101 in Chicago, 98 KUPD and The Edge 103.9 in Phoenix, XFM in the UK, Motor FM in Germany, KNRK 94.7 in Portland, WXPN in Philadelphia and many more. In the last year they've played extensively in Arizona and California, including five successful shows at The Viper Room, the most recent being Indie 103.1 FM sponsored. Their Spring '08 West Coast tour featured a KNRK sponsored show in Portland, interviews and performances on Indie 103.1 FM in Los Angeles, 98 KUPD in Phoenix and KNRK 94.7 FM in Portland.

They are currently in the studio recording a new album.