It’s time for the Bembé! The only public festa of candomblé in the world! May 13th, 1888 was the day slavery was abolished in Brazil, and it’s the day around which this yearly festival in Santo Amaro is based (some of the festival’s history is recounted on Festas in Bahia).
The festival also includes some of the folklore of the region, including samba chula/samba de roda and capoeira.
It’s been fifty years since the bells of Salvador’s Catedral Basílica on the Terreiro de Jesus have rung, and they will begin again today at 6 p.m.
Hereafter they will ring daily at 6 p.m., and before this at 12 noon, and on Fridays they will also ring at 3 p.m.
Today was chosen for this inauguration after the completion of the church’s recent restoration because today, May 10th, is Salvador’s day for celebrating the city’s patron saint, Saint Francis Xavier. Now, this date differs from the official Catholic feast day for this saint, which is the 3rd of December.
This is because it was on May 10th, 1686, that the Salvador city council declared Saint Francis Xavier the city’s patron saint in gratitude for having miraculously caused a cessation of a plague of yellow fever which had swept the city, after a period of prayer to this saint had been declared by the Jesuits.
The Jesuits, who had built the cathedral, were kicked out of Brazil in 1759, and much of their cultural influence was deliberately erased. There is now an attempt underway by the Catholic church in Salvador to revive interest in the old day of celebrating St. Francis.
If they are successful then we can look forward to another festival day beginning with a Mass followed by hoards of cerveja-drinking people in the Centro Histórico, and lots of music and dancing.
It’s pretty obvious what Bob Cataliotti has to do with New Orleans in general… Bob is a music writer and producer and professor specializing in deep roots American music. What he has to do with this upcoming release is that he is one of the writers of the notes accompanying these recordings from Jazz Fest between 1974 and 2016 and including Trombone Shorty, Irma Thomas, Big Freedia, Professor Longhair, The Neville Brothers, Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, Kermit Ruffins, Terence Blanchard, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Champion Jack Dupree, and Buckwheat Zydeco.
What does Bob have to do with Salvador and the Recôncavo? He was here! For the Lavagem de Saubara, in the town of Saubara, in the Recôncavo across the Baía de Todos os Santos from Salvador. He paraded in the charanga (cortege) and visited chuleiro (Brazil’s version of a blues singer) João do Boi in João’s village of São Braz.
And not to belabor the (what should be) obvious, these roots move down into commonality with America’s great African musical roots as well. It all becomes part of the same wondrous thing!
A stage is being set up at Praça Castro Alves for Carnival shows on Sunday, March 3rd, Monday, March 4th, and Tuesday, March 5th. These featuring Carnival icons Armandinho and Moraes Moreira among others.
The shows are part of a previous Carnival series called Pôr do Sol na Praça Castro Alves (Sunset in Praça Castro Alves) and are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.
Fuzuê and Furdunço, two words meaning a disorderly dance or party of the hoi polloi, the first from Portuguese Portuguese and the second from regional Brazilian Portuguese…also nowadays designate two parades which — for all practical purposes — are the opening of Carnival in Salvador.
The Fuzuê is more folkloric, with the groups on foot, and the Furdunço is something along the lines of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, with “trios” smaller than the monsters which are Carnival on the avenidas (avenues) in Salvador.
This year these parades will take place next Saturday and Sunday, February 23rd and 24th, beginning in Ondina and moving along the coast to the Farol (Lighthouse) da Barra.
What time do they start? Nobody ever seems to say. Later in the afternoon.
BTW, fuzuê is pronounced foo-zoo-EY, and furdunço is pronounced foor-DOON-sue.
Another burst dam owned by the mining industry, in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, the Brazilian state to the south of Bahia. This following a virtually identical collapse in Mariana, Minas Gerais three years ago. And another dam is threatening to collapse now.
Death’s scythe is smashing barriers and sweeping forth the mud.
While much of the Brazilian government, or government in Brazil rather, holds skeletal hands with industry…payoffs and bribes…on top of a general culture of complacency and cynical lack of respect for the powerless.
In Salvador the poor — with no alternative — often build on hillsides covered in massapé, the rich soil that made this area such a prodigious producer of sugarcane, and hence importer of the Africans who would do so much to form the character of Brazil. This mud kills too.
So the subject of a wonderful short story by cabra Ben Paris.
Seth Kugel has been here in Salvador (still is?) and his 36 Hours in Salvador Brazil was published in the New York Times yesterday, January 24th, 2019.
Nice to see One of The Most Amazing Cities on The Planet get a little recognition from the big guy media (gal? the paper is known as “the grey lady” after all), for a change.
Thank you Seth!
But alas even as in the closest and most loving families people are wont to bicker and complain about the best-intentioned and most successfully executed actions…let the nitpicking begin…
A couple of friends of mine who’ve lived here for decades don’t find the restaurant Donana all so marvelous. Me? I’ve never heard of it (a reflection upon myself and not the restaurant there) and so have no opinion on the matter, nothing to say. I love the yearly corn dogs at Bryan’s in Porto da Barra. I’d probably be stopped at the Donana’s transom for some rubish transgression.
And if I were even more bumptious than I already am I’d presume to tell a writer who writes for the Times and elsewhere how to write his articles; how when writing about Salvador and Bahia one MUST include something about Bahia’s Great Recôncavo being the Cradle of Samba (the National Music of Brazil)! How one must expostulate upon the Primordial Chula — Ancestral Samba — which is still played and danced to in the Recôncavo by wonderfully resilient people living in poverty.
But then I’ve been living here in Salvador for 27 years, and I learned a few things from Seth’s article myself. Viva!!!!!
São Braz, Bahia is a fishing village at the north end of the Baía de Todos os Santos. It is a place poor in money in rich in culture. The village’s lavagem (a ritual washing of Catholic church steps by people of candomblé, followed by a street party) takes place on January 13th.
And São Braz’s enormously historically-and-artistically important João do Boi (John of the Ox) will play with his group Samba Chula João do Boi from around 2 p.m.
They can be seen in the video at the bottom of this page…