Paulinho da Viola in Salvador: Friday, August 10th, 2018

Paulinho da Viola in Salvador

My off-the-scale Hot Pick for this Friday is Paulinho da Viola! He’ll be at Salvador’s Teatro Castro Alves this August 10th, from 9 p.m.

Normally I’d say that theaters — where people sit stoically as passive observers of what’s on stage — are completely inimical to samba. And they are! Samba’s place is on the ground, ground as beaten earth if possible, where there is no line-of-division between players and participants, where it’s all one integral, organic thing.

But if you can’t see Paulinho da Viola in a quintal (backyard) in Madureira…see him, and hear him, wherever you can. Paulinho is a magnificent composer, a wonderful singer, a great link to samba history (he grew up with Pixinguinha and Jacob do Bandolim hanging out in the family living room)…and a sambista de coração e alma.

Tickets can be bought at the Teatro Castro Alves box office, there across the street from Campo Grande. They are 180, 150, and 120 reais, half price for students with ID and I’m not sure how it works, but maybe also for the more venerable among us (earlier born; Paulinho himself is vintage 1942).

Hot Pick: Saturday, August 11, 2018

Bar Velho Espanha in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

Excellent and authentic samba at Velho Espanha in Salvador’s centrally located neighborhood of Barris.

If you want to hear the music/see the musicians best to get there early and get a propitiously located table inside.

Good selection of beers and good food. Velho Espanha is something of a hipster bar but nobody’s complained when I’ve gone in. I’m gratified that the music that I’ve spent decades exploring and trumpeting is now…hip!!!

I’m reminded of that old Tower of Power song: “What is hip, tell me tell me if you think you know / If you’re really hip the passing years will show…”

Yah mon!

Tommy Peoples is Eternal Now

Tommy Peoples of Donegal, a musician who raised highly regional music to universality by virtue of drawing upon a profound well common to the deepest human souls independent of their origin on planet earth, has passed.

May he always be with us.

Flipelô Literary Festival in Pelourinho

Flipelô in Pelourinho, Salvador da Bahia, Brazil

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018 will see the beginning of the second Festa Literária Internacional do Pelourinho, running through Sunday, August 12th.

The opening will be highly auspicious and full of axé (the vital life force as posited in candomblé) emanating from a stage in the Largo do Pelourinho and the Concerto Afro Barroco of venerable Mateus Aleluia upon that stage.

Mateus was a member of legendary vocal trio Os Tincoãs, from Cachoeira, Bahia, and he continues in the tradition of their music (he was the principal songwriter)…based in candomblé.

This inaugural show will take place at 8 p.m. (and of course is free to the public).

Mateus Aleluia of Cachoeira, Bahia
Mateus Aleluia of Cachoeira, Bahia

More on Mateus — including music — on his Matrix 121 page at

Flipelo has a website with full information and programming (in Portuguese) at:

VI Encounter of the Cheganças of Bahia in Saubara!

Cheganças da Bahia in Saubara

Saturday and Sunday, August 4th and 5th, 2018, will see an encounter of Cheganças (also referred to as a “Marujada”) in the Recôncavo town of Saubara, on the far side of the bay from Salvador.

Among many festivities, the “main thing” will be a parade of the various groups on Sunday, from 3 p.m.

Cheganças/Marujadas are ritual reenactments of the exploits of sailors in episodes having to do with Bahian/Brazilian history. These reenactments are highly Afro-Brazilianized, stories sung while the parading participants accompany themselves on homemade pandeiros (tambourines).

Big Day in Saubara, Sunday, July 29th, 2018!

Marujos (Sailors)

This coming Sunday is the lavagem of the Igreja (Church) São Domingos in Saubara (a “lavagem” in this sense is a ritual washing of the steps of a Catholic church by women of candomblé; more on this in our Festas section).

Following the lavagem and a procession through the town a marujada will take place. This is, fundamentally, a highly ritualized reenactment of the adventures of sailors responsible for the settlement of Brazil from across the Atlantic, with sung stories accompanied by pandeiros (Brazilian tambourines).

All of this is  done in great high spirits! É festa no interior! It’s a party in the interior!

Saubara is situated in the Recôncavo across the bay from Salvador. There’s a map on the page linked to from below (I’m not referring to the antique map at the top; there’s another more clearly marked map a bit further down the page…).

The Great Recôncavo of Bahia

Hot Pick for Friday, July 27, 2018: Grupo Botequim

Grupo Botequim at Velho Espanha in the central Salvador neighborhood of Barris (around the corner and down the street from where I’ve been living for the past 20 years).

I can’t praise Grupo Botequim highly enough! Fantastic repertoire (for a samba lover) very well played.

The only qualifier I have about this place is that the musicians are tucked into the end of a small, and what will be very crowded, place. Later arrivers will have a hard time getting the full — secularly religious — effect of real samba, where people gather around the musicians and sing along.

The venue — Velho Espanha — is interesting in that it is a hangout for the young and hip, who over the past several years have embraced roots samba as something cool. Finally my late teenage children are seeing that their old father and his old musician friends and idols have been cool all along!

IX Samba Encounter in Acupe, Bahia! Nego Fugido!!! Sunday, July 29, 2018

Samba in Acupe, Bahia

Acupe is a village on the northern end of the Baía de Todos os Santos in the Recôncavo, a place of immense cultural richness. Sunday will be a day of samba-de-roda (primordial Afro-Bahian samba) and Nego Fugido (something like a reenactment of the days of slavery when the capitães de mato — bush captains — would chase down runaway slaves).

There will also be caretas everywhere…people dressed up as monsters, the masks traditionally made of papier-mâché…but often now (particularly when worn by kids) store bought, like Halloween masks in the United States.

Acupe is situated in the Recôncavo across the bay from Salvador. There’s a map on the page linked to from below (I’m not referring to the antique map at the top; there’s another more clearly marked map a bit further down the page…).

The Great Recôncavo of Bahia

Hot Pick for Friday, July 20th, 2018

Grupo Botequim will play in the pátio behind the Igreja (Church) de Santo Antônio in Salvador’s Largo do Santo Antônio, from 9 p.m. or so.

This is real samba…the group concentrates on music of the great sambistas of Salvador…and wonderful stuff written in the earlier decades of the twentieth century. True to the art! Beer served on the premises, sold by the parish priest!

Bob Cataliotti on Dexter Payne (including Dexter’s sojourn through Brazil)

Dexter Payne Brazil
Dexter Payne. Photograph by April Renae…taken from the original article in No Depression magazine

Another great article by Bob Cataliotti, this one on saxophonist, clarinetist, harmonica man Dexter Payne and the wide net he’s cast!

We had a wonderful trip to the Recôncavo — to Saubara, Bahia — together with Bob and his wife Ann a couple of years or so ago.