Dia do Samba in Salvador da Bahia, 2018

Today, Sunday, December 2nd, 2018, is this year’s Dia do Samba (Samba Day) in Salvador and in Brazil in general. The homaged this year is Martinho da Vila, now 80 years old and famous composer of singy-songy sambas that tend to all sound alike and that do not float my personal boat (não é da minha praia, as they say here…not my beach), but hey!, a lot of people like them.

Martinho da Vila, Dia do Samba, Salvador, Bahia
Martinho da Vila

The day includes the Caminhada do Samba (Samba Walk), scheduled to leave Campo Grande at 2 p.m. (schedules in Bahia should usually be taken with a grain of salt) and move down Avenida Sete de Setembro to Praça Castro Alves, close to the Centro Histórico.  This walk is actually a procession of trio elétricos (sound trucks with bands on top) per Carnival, and the truth is that it is extremely crowded and unruly and the trios are REALLY loud (!) and it’s not a lot of fun for this assiduous samba lover.

From 4 p.m. (or so) there will be samba onstage in Salvador’s neighborhood of Rio Vermelho, in what is now called Praça Caramuru and what was formerly the parking area for the Mercado do Peixe. Alcione is the star attraction, and before her appearance the Bahian sambistas will be presented. The way this works is that there is a stage band backing up the rotating roster of singers.

I’m not such a fan of this thing either, artists aside. The pandeiro (tambourine) player Paulinho is part of the stage band and he’s being paid a measly 150 reais (less than 40 dollars) for at least 6 hours of playing. Come on! That he would accept this (he is a top-flight percussionist) says a lot about Brazil’s corrupted class and value system.

Dia do Samba
‘Caixinha de fósforos’ is ‘box of matches’…presumably all this sambista can afford. It must be said, however, that in the right hands a box of matches becomes an amazing percussion instrument, a testament to the inventiveness of a people for whom music is necessity and following the inspiration behind the common expression ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’.

Alcione? I love her. But I think she’d be and would have for the decades of her career been far better in realization had she not been discovered and become fodder for crappy major media production values…those blond curls and the big sound on a lot of her records (roll eyes)…

Of course she was very well-paid for the crapification.