Wandering the streets of Santiago, a new band called Andú is touring the city, playing lilting Gypsy-like tunes wherever they go.
itemId=7211 Photo by Ana Topoleanu
A colorful mix of vagrants, musicians and instruments, the members consider themselves a portable band--they can carry their instruments wherever they go, play as they wander and start a party wherever they wind up. It's not unusual for them to play at several parties in one night, even playing en route on the Metro.
itemId=7114 Photo by Ana Topoleanu
The musicians met at a party about five months ago in what they call a "very organic thing." Sebastian Castillo, carrying his guitar, spotted Corentin Restif playing his accordion, and the two collaborated in what has proven to be a magical recipe for amazing music.
Vocalist Castillo plays guitar Andean style, while French accordionist Restif serenades with the harmonies of his country. Alvaro Maturana plays his cajón (large wooden box-like Peruvian drum) with Brazilian flavor, and Jon Toselli’s darbuka (Middle Eastern goblet-shaped hand drum) adds an Arabian flair. Together, the band makes crowds shimmy, spin, skip and sway wherever they perform.
Their opening song is often “Leo,” an alluring French melody sung by Restif that gets crowds grooving. In fact, the band describes its ideology and purpose of making music in beautifully simple terms: to bring happiness to people, and to get them to dance. As if the foursome's intoxicating music wasn’t enough to inspire people to dance, they bring a bottle of rum to share.
Similar to Andú's organic formation, its creative process seems to be just as naturally impromptu. The members consider it to be “rapid and jovial.” They may start out with a word or two and some poetry, and the music springs forth spontaneously among the people present. Their song “Trikahuena,” about a beautiful bird from southern Chile, is a metaphor for a girl who doesn’t speak, and “Una Yerba” cleverly describes the peculiar train of thoughts that occur after mixing yerba maté and another not-so-legal substance.
itemId=7108 Photo courtesy John Toselli
The band is now on a South American "tour" in Toselli’s Volkswagen van, traveling the lands, playing music and learning more about other cultures and musical influences.
Since they'll be roaming the continent until about the beginning of March, keep an eye out for them back in Santiago this fall, in the Metro or on the street. They also usually get together at least once a week to play at the bar Navetierra downtown.
"Open your eyes every day, every morning. Enjoy the glorious springtime, listen to our music; by all means, please dance,” they tell the world. For any vagabond in Santiago, track down Andú for some music to soothe your travelin’ soul, to quench your thirst for experiencing other cultures and, above all, to inspire you to dance.