In just over a month, dozens of performers from all over the world will arrive on our shores for WOMADelaide.
One such traveller from afar will be Nick Waterhouse, a young man who plays old-style R&B.
Born in Southern California, Nick plays music reminiscent of the pre-rock sounds of the 1950s with modern energy and panache.
Chatting to us from his car in LA, the rocker with Buddy Holly styling and a suave demeanor, explains his choice to make authentic R&B.
“Maybe I’m a contrarian by nature,” Nick laughs. “But I think mostly it’s just about the feel of it; I just grew up really interested in it. God knows why I wanted to chase that sound but I was definitely way more entranced by, and identified with, bands like The Animals and The Rolling Stones and John Lee Hooker and all that stuff.”
“I felt a lot more kinship with them musically. What came across in their tunes really spoke to me in a way that was a lot different than most contemporary rock and roll, or hip hop. I just didn’t feel any of that. It never felt like me.”
Nick started playing music from a very young age, but he wasn’t always the dedicated guitarist he is now.
“I started playing trumpet when I was seven and then I switched to guitar when I was 12; I think because guitar seems a lot cooler when you’re a twelve-year-old boy,” he laughs.
“The irony is that I’ve come back around to using a lot of horns on all my stuff. Now I really wish I had kept up with trumpet and played guitar as well, but at the time I remember it was a deal with my folks. We weren’t particularly wealthy so it was one or the other; so we traded the trumpet for the guitar.”
Skip forward to 2015 and Nick Waterhouse is heading to Australia for the first time to take on WOMADelaide, a festival that suits his heterogeneous style and approach.
“I’m very fortunate in that I don’t feel beholden to any particular scene. Some of my friends tour in indie rock bands and only want to play festivals that make them hip or something. But I have fans from so many different communities that it’s really great to be a part of an eclectic thing. I’ve played jazz festivals, rock and roll festivals, and folk festivals so for me it’s another notch in my belt, so to speak, as far as eclecticism goes,” Nick says.
And with this being his first time in our country, Nick is keen to be a part of our way of life, even if it’s just for a short time.
“I just want to see the whole culture. One of my really great friends, who’s actually touring with me playing horns, she’s from Australia – from Perth. And so it’s a mysterious, large place and I haven’t been immersed in the culture,” he says.
“That’s part of the fun of being a touring musician, you get to be surrounded by a culture without making the kind of commitment you do when you’re budgeting to make a vacation. Before I was a musician, I never travelled because I never had any money. I could have never left the town, and now it’s my job to travel and I’m travelling there without the pressure of having to see everything. It’s a great way, I feel, to get to know the people.”
Having been told Mad March is the best time of year to visit Adelaide, Nick will be exercising his favourite way to be a tourist, which is inspired by French poets.
“I am a big advocate of the term ‘Flâneur’ – a very literary thing. French poets talked about it. It’s people who wander the city to happen upon random things that occur,” he says.
“So when I’m in a town, that’s what I do. I go out for a walk, a really long walk. If I see a bar that looks cool, I’ll walk in, if I see a café or somewhere to eat, I go in and I talk to strangers. I just want to be in a town and take it all in without needing to have a game plan. I’ve been told that Adelaide’s going to be really alive then so it’s a really cool way to get some exposure. I will probably get a double dosage of what I’d normally get, right?”
That’s probably an understatement, but he’ll find out when he gets here.
Following WOMADelaide, Nick will be taking his band to play some dates in Perth and Victoria, amongst others, before heading back to the USA.
“I’m touring across Australia after the festival. I’m hitting up most of the major cities. I think I’m there for about nine days doing dates almost every night,” he says.
“After that I’ll be working on a record of my own and two other records; one is from a singer named Ural Thomas from Portland, Oregon who’s a soul singer – he’s really phenomenal. Then there’s one with Paul Bergmann. I’m working on his album which is great.”
But before that, Nick will hit WOMADelaide, where he’ll be playing his signature R&B to get people moving.
“A lot of rhythm and blues. You get those two things when you see me. I let the band stretch out and I like to showcase a lot of the players, but I always keep things heavy so people can dance,” he says.
WOMADelaide is on from 6-9th March and you can grab your tickets and this year’s lineup from their website.