Roberta Sá in Salvador

Roberta Sá in Salvador
Can she swing?

If you don’t have your tickets then you’re too late for this: Roberta Sá will be performing tonight in the Caixa Cultural Salvador on Avenida Carlos Gomes (57) beginning at 7 p.m.

Roberta has a lovely voice, but can she swing? She recorded an album of songs by Roque Ferreira entitled Quando o Canto é Reza, When the Song is a Prayer, accompanied by the fiercely wonderful Trio Madeira Brasil. But Roque didn’t like the record. It didn’t swing.

These were songs, sambas, in the style of the Recôncavo which is where Roque was born (in the town of Nazaré das Farinhas)…and the samba of the Recôncavo swings.

I love this record! The songs are beautiful and beyond this they are beautiful expressions of deep Recôncavo culture. They are beautiful played straight. The composer doesn’t agree. C’est la vie!

Roque’s music is hearable on his Matrix 121 page.

Hot Pick for Tonight: Samba with Roberto Ribeiro

Samba with Roberto Ribeiro, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

Great samba de raíz (roots samba) in Casa da Mãe (Mother’s House) in Rio Vermelho tonight. Songs of the masters, including masters of Salvador, Bahia (Dorival Caymmi, Batatinha, Ederaldo Gentil, among others), played and sung by Roberto Ribeiro and his friends.

From 9:30 p.m. or so. Casa da Mãe is located across from the beach in Rio Vermelho where presents are taken out to Mother Yemanjá every February 2nd. Good food and drinks, inexpensive.

Rua Guedes Cabral, 81 – Rio Vermelho

15 reais cover.

Regional Culture is the Realest!

Saturday in Salvador, October 20th, 2018, will see the Casulo da Cultura Popular in Largo Dois de Julho, in the city center.

There will be Bahian regional food, and art, and of course music.

The music will feature — among others — three of the stratospherically towering artists of deeply authentic Brazilian culture: Bule Bule, Raymundo Sodré, and João do Boi. Sodré told me that he should be performing from around 6 p.m., so I imagine that Bule and João will be on at around that time, when the sun is setting and the day is cooling down (hopefully they’ll actually get João here; it’s something of a schlep from his village in the Recôncavo).

Now, don’t be thinking that because these are three splendidly eminent and highly important artists there will be some kind of a fancy setup and hoardes of fans. The only one of the three to have received the big corporate publicity shebang was Raymundo Sodré (going by “Raimundo” at the time, using the newly enforced orthography of the era; he’s since gone back to the name that his parents actually gave him). Bule Bule and João do Boi are exemplars of the verity that artist brilliance without bucks (or reais in this case) behind it can shine like a supernova swallowed by a black hole.

Raymundo though had one of the best-selling records in Brazil in 1980, a PolyGram release. But for politicial reasons, during the dictatorship, he was threatened with death and chased out of the country. He’s been back since 2000 and since then it’s been his hard-scrabble beginnings set to repeat.

The Casulo is being organized by Shalom Adonai, a young acolyte of the old masters, and cultural producer and good guy Antônio Nykiel. And BTW a “casulo” is a cocoon, kind of reference to protecting this culture and the fact that “bule bule” is a folk name for a kind of caterpiller, source of the great Bule Bule’s appellation.


Great Friday Night of Samba with Grupo Botequim!

Grupo Botequim

Friday, October 19th, 2018…Grupo Botequim will celebrate their 12 years together. This is — per authentic samba — not a show per se but a participatory celebration, with what would be the “audience” in other cases here singing along, clapping and dancing. It’s the Unified Field Theory of Music.

And with Walmir Lima, now in his ninth decade, presiding in his masterly fashion and lifting spirits and energy levels…and Grupo Barlavento, the gentlemen from Mutá, in the Recôncavo, singing their sambas-de-roda…and Seu Regi from Itapuã, and his sambas-de-roda…

A truly Brazilian night in the most moving sense of it all.

This samba takes place behind the Igreja (Church) de Santo Antônio in Salvador’s neighborhood of Santo Antônio além do Carmo (in some respects an extension of Pelourinho). Beer is served by the parish priest.

Thursday Nights in Salvador These Days

I write in mid-October, and the one thing that doesn’t change is that things change. But in these immediate times, if one is looking for great music in a lively and comfortable place with drinks and food — on a Thursday night — one place for this is Casa da Mãe (Mother’s House) in Salvador’s neighborhood of Rio Vermelho.

“Mother” in this case is Yemanjá, deity of the salt waters, Casa da Mãe sitting across the street from the beach where every February 2nd presents are taken out in boats to Yemanjá (and a tremendous party takes place).

Casa da Mãe has a facebook page (in my opinion facebook is a useful evil, useful because people or on it, evil for well-known factors and it’s too bad they won out in the race for that kind of social network):

Wonderful, Inventive Music on Tuesdays in October!

Choros, Salvador, Pelourinho

Tuesday nights in October, 2018 in the SESC Arena on Salvador’s Largo do Pelourinho (entrance to the right as one moves down the hill)…

This is music for the most part based in choro (cry, literally), a style which coalesced in Rio de Janeiro in the last half of the 19th century.

Choro was and is erudite music meant for both dancing and listening, like early New Orleans jazz. It’s always been played by highly competent musicians and incorporates a lot of improvisation.

These guys take choro into way new territory, and it really is beautiful. They incorporate the congas and atabaques of Luizinho do Gêge, percussionist in the candomblé house of Bogum. And the guitarra baiana of Alexandre Vargas (the guitarra baiana was invented in Salvador for use on the trio elétricos of Carnival; it looks like a tiny electric guitar). One of their splendid fusions is the song Brejeiro by Ernesto Nazaré — a choro classic — played in the style of the samba chula of the Bahian Recôncavo (where guitar player Alex Mesquita is from, and where clarinet player Juvino Filho studied at the University of the Recôncavo in Cachoeira). It hangs in the air like magic!

For these occasions the group is joined by Cesário Leony, who plays with everybody famous around here and has won fame with his work atop the trio elétricos of Carnival. Here he plumbs depths in other directions.

Now, the arena is just that, a shallow arena with concrete steps which serve as seats. And not a lot of people know about these performances and I’m not so sure that a lot of people would go even if they did. When I want last Tuesday the show was sparsely attended by enthusiastic listeners. But it was 90 minutes of musical magnificence and I was transfixed!

Entrance is 20 reais. 10 for students and seniors. Sometimes the SESC people give us free passes to hand out from the record shop. Music begins at 8 p.m. with the exception of Tuesday, October 16, when it begins at 9.

10th Festa da Ostra in Kaonge, Bahia

Festa da Ostra, Kaonge, Bahia

Saturday, October 20th, 2018 in the quilombo (village founded by runaway slaves) of Kaonge, Bahia, at the northern end of the Baía de Todos os Santos (Bay of All Saints)…the tenth Festa da Ostra — Oyster Festival.

The oysters are gathered from the bay and served in moquecas (Afro-Bahian stews, so to speak) and etc.

Lots of samba de roda! The festival is organized by Ananias Viana, whose brother Thomé (the reggae artist) has for this year organized transport to the village from Salvador by bus, for anybody interested.

Hot Pick for Friday: Grupo Botequim, Juliana Ribeiro & Bule Bule!

Ken & Bule Bule, Cana Brava Records, Salvador, Bahia
Dr. Dossar & Bule Bule in Cana Brava Records

Friday, September 14th, from 9 p.m. or so, Grupo Botequim will be joined by special guests Juliana Ribeiro and Bule Bule behind the Igreja (Church) de Santo Antônio in the Largo de Santo Antônio in Salvador’s neighborhood of (yup! you guessed it!) Santo Antônio além do Carmo.

Great, great samba! Wonderful Juliana! And incomparable Bule Bule, who carries the folk memory of Brazil’s Nordeste (Northeast) under that leather cap!

Beer is served on the premises by the church’s presiding priest. Entrance is 15 reais.

Salvador’s Gay Parade is Today

Things begin on a stage set up in Campo Grande at 11 a.m., and the parade proper is set to begin moving down Avenide Sete de Setembro to Praça Castro Alves from 3 p.m.

The cortege’s opening will feature Brazil’s national anthem sung by wonderful Juliana Ribeiro, and up front of the parade will be Alberto Pitta’s drumming troupe Cortejo Afro. So far so great!

The parade these past years though has unfortunately attracted substantial crowds more interested in the mayhem aspects of partying, including plenty of ruffians and pickpockets (to be Dickensian about it; the reality is less politely evocative).