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Spicy Salsa Sounds Await You at the Lass

Spicy Salsa Sounds Await You at the Lass

Who: Pablo Diablo
Where: Lass O' Gowrie
When: Tuesday June 27, 2000

IT'S a miserable Tuesday night, cold and raining, but inside the Lass O'Gowrie Hotel at Wickham every second week there's a bright bright sun-shiney day.

Inside the stage is bathed in a warm glow of oranges, yellows and reds and from the ceiling hang colourful parrots and a few stuffed effigies of the band's namesake.

With a schooner in one hand, and half a handful of free corn chips from the bar in the other, you take a stool and wait for the spicy salsa music of PABLO DIABLO to engulf the senses.

Dressed in loud patterned shirts, the six members of the group slide in behind their instruments, and out melts a smooth sounding instrumental which is so 'lounge' you can feel yourself sinking comfortably into it.

The group, which is only playing its third public show tonight, boasts a third of its repertoire in lounge format, with the majority ranging from upbeat to full swing.

More than half of the band's set is sung in Spanish or Portuguese by Argentinian guitarist FERNANDO TORRES, who plays acoustic and electric with deft feel.

The music of Pablo Diablo hovers above the language barrier with an amazing, vibrant, energetic sound that evokes a feeling of celebration, of life and love and parties.

By the second song ROD ANSELL, renowned around town for his thespian abilities, displays his other lesser-known talents as a lyrical, expressive and passionate saxophonist.

He also knows how to wrench emotions from a harmonica, making the thing sing.

Later he assumes the role of front man, grabbing a pair of shakers and declaring the dance floor open. It doesn't take long before a pair of experienced ballroom dancers ignite the floor, aroused by the rhythms of samba, cha-cha and bossa nova.

Amateur dancers too are intoxicated by the rhythms that can only be danced with a partner.

Soon couples are bumping and grinding against one another, titillating each other with gyrations seemingly beyond their control.

Those without partners at the back of the hotel are tangoing with pool cues, dancing around their schooner glasses.

Eyelids are growing heavy as all heads, legs and hips present begin to wiggle involuntarily.

The smile on the faces of the group's rhythm section CHRIS DAWSON (bass), BRETT VAN KREIDT (drums) and PETE HARBULOT (percussion) says it all: this is heartfelt music for the soul.

Ansell is offering interpretation of song lyrics, which confirms what the musical language already suggests.

'Like most of the songs tonight, this next one is about love,' he says.

'But this songs is actually about the physical details.'

Later on, with dancers drunk on a heady cocktail of steel drums and swaggering sensual rhythms, Ansell informs the punters that the next song is 'basically about behaving yourselves.

'Don't stray too far from the path,' he warns.

But the crowd is already lost to the music.

The second set (one of four, 45 minute sets the group performs) is opened with a tango.

Behind the bar staff members are spinning themselves off the beer taps, whipping the change out of the cash registers on the out-spin and back into the hands of patrons on the return spin. Same again?

'This next one's a very big hit in Brazil,' Torres says in his broad accent, rolling his Rs.

'It's about the sound of the drums. It's very groovy.'

ANNE SMOLA (keyboards) takes the spotlight on several tunes.

Percussionist Harbulot is playing instruments they don't have names for yet, and occasionally blowing on a party whistle like an AWOL policeman at Mardi Gras.

These guys party hard again next Tuesday, June 27, at the Lass. 8.30pm. Don't miss it.

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