It doesn’t matter how a Latin party starts, it always ends up playing cumbia.
The musical backbone of South America, its origin is Colombian. A
combination of Spanish music and the rhythm and instruments of indigenous
communities, it predates salsa and samba.
Cumbia has evolved across South and Central America, and it’s now part
of the DNA of a continent. In taking a little of each of its homelands, it
develops just a little more, as it has done here.
This Girl spent some time with Elias and Maggie, two of the members of
Hobart’s own cumbia band, Chupacabra.
Elias and Maggie
This Girl discovered Chupacabra one Friday afternoon at Recktango. I
asked around. I heard they were the second generation of Salamanca stalwart, Arauco
Libre who brought the sounds and instruments of South America to Hobart in the
eighties. Chupacabra has eight members so that’s a big call. It’s Elias who is
heir of Arauco Libre’s Franco, and the two of them have their fingers in most
of the Latin American music going down in Hobart: salsa, samba and now cumbia.
Chupacabra started jamming around 18 months ago and playing publicly in
The members are: Jim and Dave on trumpet, Ryan on bass, Aaron on
guitar, Violeta on vocals, Elias on percussion and vocals, Maggie on percussion
and vocals, and Tom on accordion and vocals. Their ninth member is Ivan, sound
engineer and newest family member.
Cumbia is party music and Chupacabra is a party band. They tell me what they
want most is to create a party atmosphere. They like their audiences to get dancing and that’s
when they have the most fun too.
If you’ve been lucky enough to see them at Recktango, the Winston, or a
new South Hobart venue called The Arts Factory, you’ll know that they are a lot
of fun and its obvious they enjoy each other and the music they make.
Chupacabra is literally a goat sucker. It’s the South American version
of the Yeti. Legend has it that it is a small bear like creature renown for
draining the blood from animals.
Elias and Maggie tell me that thanks to the X-Files, Chupacabra is the
only Spanish word Jim, their trumpet player, knows, and the band's name was his choice.
The name is a good fit for this group of twenty-somethings who take a
gorilla approach to their music, appearing from nowhere and making their mark,
minus the bloodletting. It reflects their origins, the music of the Central
Americas. And its very Day of the Dead, the annual Mexican commemoration of
family and friends who have died, with historic origins throughout South
Chupacabra has got big plans and they’ll be making their mark in 2015.
You’ll be able to see them at the Falls Festival, where they will be
playing at the Village. You’ll also catch them at MOFO’s after party FAUX MO.
Chupacabra’s shout out to the Day of the Dead and their party ethos will be a
perfect match for the sex and death themes that underpin mostly everything MONA
Early next year they’ll launch their first EP. And while all this is
going on they’re making long term plans to tour and visit their musical roots
in Mexico and hopefully return to Cuba where Elias and Maggie recently spent a
year studying music, to record, like one of their favourite groups, The Cat
Image courtesy of Chupacabra
Speaking of the Cat Empire, if you caught them at MONA on the green,
Saturday, 29 November 2014, you’d know that Dave from Chupacabra won the muso
comp to get up on stage with the group.
Dave submitted a two minute video performance to Cat Empire and won. But
only two members got a share of the limelight and after an epic paper, rock,
scissors, it was Elias not Maggie who got to go with Dave to the concert. To make matters worse
for Maggie, The Cat Empire found out that Elias was a percussionist and invited
him to jam along with a song too.
It’s still a rather sore point for Maggie.
This Girl took the opportunity to ask them about of some of our themes:
where they like to eat and what they love about Hobart.
Chupacabra with The Cat Empire. Image courtesy of Chupacabra
Elias hardly ever eats out but when he does, he usually goes the buffalo
chicken burger at the Winston. You can find reviews from the Two Girls on Maggie’s
favourites, All Thai and the Global Kitchen at the end of this post.
Elias and Maggie tell me what they love most about living here is the
community’s acceptance and support. Hobart is loaded with opportunity and you
can achieve a lot in Hobart in a short time. And of course, there’s the
Why don’t you do yourself a favour and go
check them out?
Like Chupacabra on Facebook where you can find out about upcoming events
including their EP launch, or on their webpage here.