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Setting Roots in Whistler

Local good-vibrations guru Kostaman and friends release inaugural album

Who: Kostaman

When: Thursday, Dec. 15

Where: Moe Joe’s

As his new album suggests, local reggae star Kostaman is Setting Roots in Whistler, extending his Miami music family to Canada.

"I belonged to a music family from Miami called Monkey Village – a place where musicians all live together, work and record," said Kostaman a.k.a. Kostas Lymbertos. "The mission was to keep the family growing, through the east and west coasts of the U.S. and Europe and now Canada. This is like Monkey Village North."

After arriving in Whistler with nothing more than a suitcase, acoustic guitar and snowboard a year and a half ago, the now frontman of Kostaman is releasing the good-vibrations reggae band’s first album, Setting Roots at a CD release party, Thursday, Dec. 15 at Moe Joe’s.

"It’s a representation of the world through our Whistler eyes, lifestyle and experience," Lymbertos said. "Just like this is the hub of the world where everyone comes to, we are reaching out to all of them with our music, which has something for everybody."

In addition to the talent of Lymbertos, the world-beat album resulted from the collaboration of a handful of musicians from Whistler’s music scene, including Rajan Das, Rob Funk, Phil T Beats, Dave Morris, DJ Phroh and Jana Marie Dupuis.

In the depths of Rob Funk Studios, a.k.a. Rob’s spare bedroom, the album – six months in the making – came to light, and with it new direction for a band which has performed more than 200 gigs this year, without ever setting foot on Highway 99.

"We’ve been on the road except we haven’t even been to Vancouver," Lymbertos joked. "Two hundred gigs, just in Whistler, is a lot. We are in a little bit of a bubble here. I’ve never been somewhere where musicians can make a living. It is a first for me and it’s very exciting and it only seems to be getting better and better."

From open mic nights at the Crystal Lounge, the Kostaman act has spread its grooving sunshine throughout the village with regular Thursday night shows at Moe Joe’s, hosting open mic nights at Black’s Pub and jam sessions at the Crystal on Sunday nights. You’ll find Lymbertos every Thursday alongside DJ Phroh at Joey Chan’s Chinese Eatery in Creekside and Fridays along side Rob Funk at Black’s Pub. From local hangouts, including opening for former Sublime and Long Beach All Stars at Buffalo Bill’s, to international stages such as the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival’s concert series, the Kostaman vibe is gaining momentum.

"With the CD, we have the opportunity to reach the ears of people in the music industry and get some radio play," he said. "We are working on a live CD and back (to the recording studio for another album) and at that point we are ready to go: ready to open up for big-time bands and tours. We can probably do that now, but in a year’s time we will be even more prepared."

It has been surprises all along the way, including Lymbertos’s discovery of the reggae genre itself. Lymbertos found, through the message-driven lyrics and soulfulness of reggae/world beat, he could express two passions in one: both his love of music and the need to reach out to people to spread the joy.

"My mission in music is to get people moving and vibrating with me," he said. "Through a reggae-type world beat, Afro, Cuban, Brazilian, with this kind of sound I feel I can touch (people) at a deep and primal level and they have no choice but to vibe with us."

A familiar presence at local charity fundraisers and a teacher of alternative music styles to Jana Marie Dupuis’s classically trained piano students, Lymbertos gives back to the community, which embraced him. He founded Bands Against Hunger, an organization that hosts various concerts around town with all proceeds contributing to projects to combat hunger, including the Whistler Food Bank. Partial funds will be used to record an album of various bands with all sales contributing to the cause. Cover from Thursday night’s album release party will contribute to the program.

"(The album) is an expression of my moving to Whistler and changing my way of life, realizing what is important to me, and coming here and making this place home – embracing it and being embraced by it," he said.