Lavagem de São Braz, 2019!!!

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

Roda de Choro in Mother’s House

“Mother’s House” is  Casa da Mãe in Salvador’s neighborhood of Rio Vermelho, the mother in question being Yemanjá, female deity of the salt waters. Casa da Mãe sits across from the beach where every February 2nd presents are taken out to sea for Yemanjá, and an enormous festival takes place.

Thursday nights these days are given to choro — exquisite choro — played by Elisa Goritzki, Dudu Reis, Daniel Velloso Rocho, and Sebastian Notini — and other musicians who show up and sit in.

Cover charge is 10 reais (for such fabulous music; can you believe it?).

Food and drink on the premises. Casa da Mãe is owned and run by Stella Maris, a young(ish) singer from the town of Santo Amaro, at the north end of the bay.

Casa da Mãe’s address is Rua Guedes Cabral, 81.

Daniel Velloso Rocho plays Interrogando by João Pernambuco, who emigrated from Recife, Pernambuco — hence his apelido — to Rio de Janeiro to find work as a musician in the early part of the 20th century…and who ended his days as as an entrance guard at a school where the students (and almost certainly the faculty) were unaware that the courtly gentleman watching over things there was one of Brazil’s greatest artists.

Hot Dougie’s is Re-Opening!

Hot Dougie’s was Doug Adair’s ostensible hot dog joint in Porto da Barra, here in Salvador, but the place was really more about music than hot dogs (and chili nachos and such). It was kind of a hole-in-the wall where people were served over the front counter giving onto the street (directly across that street from the beach), with musicians sitting outside and tables and chairs for customers. It was perfect for a tropical country like Brazil.

Doug closed down for a while and is re-opening — or kind of re-opening — this coming Friday, December 28th. The uncertainty is whether or not the necessary permits will come through by tomorrow (as I write). If they don’t, there’s going to be music anyway (samba, from 6 p.m., with Lula & os Marinheiros) and Doug will be giving away free samples.

When things are fully rolling at Hot Dougie’s 2.0 there will be craft beer on draft and along with the original menu there will be a whole healthy menu too, the latter under the aegis of channeled Burl Ives…Uncle Burl!

UPDATE! Doug’s alvará (license) to open officially hasn’t come through yet, so the place will be unofficially open and giving away “samples”, including beer (!).

Lula and the guys will be there playing, the plan being to utilize the bus stop across the street as a stage…

Gonna be interesting to see how things work out! But work out one way or another, they will!

What to Do in Salvador This Friday Night

Samba in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil: Dec. 14, 2018

One more wonderful night of real music with Pedrão Habib and Grupo Botequim…and special guests including the Ganhadeiras de Itapuã.

The Ganhadeiras sing deep roots Bahian music, including sambas de roda.

As usual beer will be served on the premises by the parish priest.

National Geographic Recommends Salvador, Brazil

National Geographic has a “Best Trips” / “Where to Travel 2019” feature online, twenty-eight recommended locations…

One of these is Salvador, Brazil.

The description begins “The capital of the northeastern state of Bahia is Brazil’s musical heart and soul. Multiple music genres, such as bossa nova, samba, and tropicália, were born in the city…”

We’ll give National Geographic credit for including Salvador! And won’t quibble about the fact that bossa nova wasn’t born in Salvador (although it was born in the hands of Bahian João Gilberto, of Juazeiro, Bahia)…and the fact that samba was born in the Recôncavo (although the Recôncavo — in the cultural sense — at one time extended into what is now metropolitan Salvador, giving the statement in question a certain erring logic).

Tropicália? (yawn, the ’60s are over). Axé music? (snore).

Bahia is a King Solomon’s mine of musical riches. The thing about mines is ya gotta dig.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/features/best-trips-2019/

Next Salvador Festa: Conceição da Praia

Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia in Salvador, Bahia
Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia

Saturday, December 8th is the next festa popular on Salvador’s calendar. The festa is founded in Salvador’s patron saint of Nossa Senhora da Conceição, Our Lady of the Conception, the lady being Mary, mother of Jesus, and the conception having been without the usual way people avidly go about it.

There’s a Mass out front of the church beginning at 8 a.m., and then a procession around the area. In the afternoon the party gets going, not a great or particularly attractive one, tending to be centered in Praça Cayru behind the Mercado Modelo.

Festa de Santa Bárbara / Iansã in Salvador’s Centro Histórico this Tuesday, December 4th

The best day of the year in Pelourinho (Salvador’s Centro Histórico)…red & white are the colors to be worn, the colors of Iansã (ee-ahn-SAHN), Afro-Brazilian deity of storms and lightning, syncretized with Saint Barbara.

The greeting is “Epa hei!” (traditional greeting for Iansã)

The day begins with a Mass in the Largo do Pelourinho, and a cortege to the firehouse in the Baixa dos Sapateiros (Saint Barbara is the patron saint of firefighters).

Beginning in the afternoon there will be samba in the various squares of Pelourinho, including Samba Chula de São Braz at 4 p.m. in the Largo do Pelourinho.

This is something of a travesty given that Samba Chula de São Braz was the group of brothers João do Boi and Alumínio Saturno (now passed). The name was stolen by their erstwhile kind-of-manager, and João do Boi, the icon who was the focal point of the group, decided not to contest this effrontery, simply renaming his group “Samba Chula João do Boi”.

João do Boi of Bahia, Brazil
João do Boi. Accept no substitutes! This man is part of an unbroken lineage stretching back to the first Africans to arrive in Brazil. He grew up without electricity and learned his music from his forbears. The current ‘Samba Chula de São Braz’ learned their chula (primordial Bahian samba) by listening to João’s recordings! And now their manager gets them hired in João’s place, trading on his name. It’s too much!!!

Later in the day things can get kind of rough down around the bottom of the Largo do Pelourinho…

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.

Playing for Change Plays Salvador, Bahia

On my way past the Praça Municipal here in Salvador yesterday (the public square in the city center from where one can take the elevator to the lower city)…I saw a row of microphones on mike stands set up next to the Christmas tree there…

I assumed they were there for some kind of Christmas show…

But no, they were there for Playing for Change. I had no idea! Had heard nothing about this! I wish I’d walked past a bit later!

Turns out there will be a show of Playing for Change artists in the Concha Acústica, tomorrow, Friday, November 30th. The show will begin at 7 p.m., and tickets are available from the Teatro Castro Alves ticket office there at Campo Grande, priced at 120 reais (half price for students and venerables). Camarotes (kind of like VIP areas, which in the case of the Concha Acústica aren’t so vippy) are 200 reais and half for the aforementioned.

Around here, them prices are for the gilded class! I hope there are enough of them interested in this music (and the people who make it) that the artists on stage won’t be staring at empty concentric concrete rings! This is a great project and we wish them the best!