WatussiWhat, I wonder, are your associations with Colombia? You know, apart from very pure cocaine. Musically, specifically. Shakira? Tick. A little closer to home, there's Watussi, an exciting 8 piece band that doesn't half rate itself: '1000% guapo', it reckons. And Watussi is, literally, slang for the handsomest man at the party. Now that's what I call a healthy self-image. Musically, it's certainly justified. They are, one and all, handsome players and definitively party boys.

The Isley Brothers, Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix go into a subterranean bar and smoke a copious quantity of ganja. It's no joke. It's a dream. With that firmly, or hallucinogenically, in mind, you might get a feeling for what Watussi sounds like. And if these guys don't compel you to dance, you probably don't have feet. It's all original, grounded in Afro-Colombian rock 'n' roots, which covers a wide-ranging territory. Cumbia. Funk. Rock. Reggae. It's all in there somewhere. Having established they've exotic cred, they hail from the quintessentially Aussie local of Bondi Beach and have rapidly carved a name, niche and rep for themselves. This has been manifest in taking the festival circuit by storm, whether the ubiquitous Byron Bay Blues 'n' Roots, WOMAdelaide, or offshore. To ice the cake, their debut long-player's been released internationally and was ARIA-nominated as 'best world music album'. This year, they've a US tour on the books.

Given this level of burgeoning fame and favour, I was probably lucky to catch them in Bulli. Oscar Jimenez, the real Colombian-born deal, is very much the leader, on vocals and rhythm guitar. He, clearly, calls the shots. Simon Olsen doesn't need any encouragement to let loose with some blistering lead. Jared Kneale is a metronomic powerhouse on drums. Vicente Sebastian is the kind of percussionist who ensures you'll never laugh at a triangle again and the fact that such a delicate instrument can ring out over the top of this furore socks it to me in itself. Pat Harris is a funkmeister par excellence, on bass. Then there's the blow-your-head-off brass of Brown, Feranci and Garbett; Michael, Simon and Nick, respectively (though I think Garbett was MIA on the night).

These handsomest of all dudes play loud and proud, with complete self-assurance.

Watussi's album is entitled 'Tequila, Sangre y Fuego'. In case you're Spanish isn't tends hasta cero, that translates as Tequila, Blood & Fire', which happens to be about as eloquent a characterisation of their irresistibly passionate live performance as one could contrive. Even if you're Spanish is muy malo, you can always save yourself for their songs in French and English. The first verse of Candela says it all, bilingually to boot:-

This was the time of fire
When the world was one full race of desire
A hand hit a skin, a man played a beat
A rhythm was born to liberate us all
It’s in everybodys blood
The drums romance the tribal dance
So grab the last chance
Hear the scream coming at you
Puro el instinto de mis muchachos
If you listen inside your body
Feel the heartbeat trying
It's time to hear el tambor
We wanna feel it.

What it says, of course, is that Watussi is all about the poetry of motion; the impulsive, incandescent and sensual. All their music is driving, engaging and instrumentally virtuosic. At the atmospheric Heritage Hotel, practically everyone bar the staff were on their feet; even Superman. Yes, a tall, improbably well-built bloke who had all the moves was showing them off. His girlfriend seemed entirely optional; a mirror would've suited his affections rather better. Still, he sufficed as no-cost-extra visual entertainment. Not that it's easy to take your eyes (or, especially, ears) off Watussi. Paul McDermott, who hosted them on The Sideshow, described them as Australia's most exciting band, and I reckon he's most probably right. I was tired even before I ventured out on Saturday night, but Watussi not only revived and reinvigorated me, they had me champing at the bit to dislodge from my barstool.

Even the support hit the floor; speaking of whom, though on paper somewhat incongruous, local hero Nicole Brophy's raucous, full-throated indie folk-country-blues-rock is communicated with comparable passion; the blood and fire are there, if not the tequila. (You might well know and admire her from Dirty Lucy, a group she shared with Jodi Moore. But that's another story.) On this occasion, she was joined by Syd Green, on drums and dobro, which really upped the sonic carbs. Brophy's proficient on both acoustic (even if she had a lousy time with A-strings) and electric guitars. One of my perspicacious companions advanced the hypothesis she is after the style of PJ. No bad thing!

Fresh from the United tour, featuring three of Australia's other leading singer-songwriters, she's also been part of Kate Miller-Heidke's touring band and pivotal in bolstering KMH's internationals success, but she has so much to offer on her lonesome. While a little more stagecraft wouldn't go astray (too many confabs with Sid and not enough with us), her songs are protein-packed, lyrically and texturally. She's had substantial success already, on numerous fronts, but she's a phenomenon waiting to happen.

Listen hungrily to Brophy. And do what feels good with Watussi

1000% Guapo Tour

Friday 4th June
Coogee Diggers – Coogee
Tix: $20.00 inc + BF
Watussi: 10:00 PM – 11:00 PM
DCup: 8:45 PM - 9:30 PM
Doors: 8:00 PM

Sat 5th June
Hotel Gearin – Katoomba
Tix: $15.00 inc + BF (pre sales); $20.00 inc (door sales)
Watussi: 10:30 PM - 11:30 PM + encores
Katoomba Dub Collective - TBA: 9:15 PM - 10:00 PM

Fri 11th June
Annandale Hotel – Annandale
Tix: $25.00 inc + BF (pre sales); $30.00 inc (door sales)
Watussi: 10:40 PM - 12:00 AM
Samba Mundi: 9:30 PM - 10:15 PM
James Locksmith: 8:30 PM - 9:10 PM
Doors: 8:00 PM

Saturday 12th June
Heritage Hotel – Bulli
Tix: $20.00 inc + BF
Watussi: 10:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Nicole Brophy: 8:45 PM - 9:30 PM
Doors: 8:00 PM

Sunday 13th June
Brass Monkey – Cronulla
Tix: $20.00 inc + BF
Watussi: 10:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Justin Carter: 8:45 PM - 9:30 PM
Doors: 8:00 PM

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