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!

Ilê Aiyê’s 2018 March for Consciência Negra Cancelled

Ilê Aiyê’s traditional march up the Ladeira de Curuzu and to Pelourinho — Salvador’s Centro Histórico — scheduled for today, November 20th, 2018, has been cancelled due to lack of funding.

The traditional march from Campo Grande to the Praço Municipal (top of the elevator), however, will take place, this year honoring Môa do Katendê and Marielle Franco, victims of political violence, among others.

The march is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m., but in reality will start some time after this.

Dia de Consciência Negra: Salvador, Bahia 2018

Dia de Consciência Negra, Salvador, Bahia

Salvador’s (and Brazil’s) Dia de Consciência Negra is this coming Tuesday, November 20th, November 20th being the date that Zumbi, the last king of the quilombo (in Brazil, a settlement of Africans or Afro-Brazilians who have escaped to freedom) of Palmares, was killed in 1695.

While there are a number of happenings in Salvador on this date, principal among these is the walk from the headquarters of bloco afro Ilê Aiyê on the Ladeira de Curuzu (this is the street; a ladeira is a sloping street) in the neighborhood of Liberdade, to Pelourinho, the Centro Histórico.

This walk begins around 3 p.m. in the afternoon, to the accompaniment of the drums of Ilê Aiyê in a style specific to Salvador and developed exactly for marches such as this.

Grupo Botequim in Santo Antônio: Resistance!

Grupo Botequim, Santo Antônio, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

Friday, November 16th, beginning at 9 p.m., samba with Grupo Botequim on the patio behind the Igreja (Church) de Santo Antônio in the Salvador neighborhood of Santo Antônio além do Carmo.

This show honors the Dia de Consciência Negra — Black Consciousness Day (which is Tuesday, November 20th), and will host special guests Gal do Beco, Firmino de Itapuã, Cota Pagodeiro and a group playing tambores de minas, congados from Minas Gerais.

Beer sold on the premises by the parish priest.

Dom Salvador: Brazilian Greatness Hidden in Plain Site

Dom Salvador & Band
Dom Salvador & Band. Dom Salvador with the melodica and none other than Hermeto Pascoal on the piano.

Fascinating article in the New York Times, on Salvador da Silva Filho, aka Dom Salvador, part of a movement to add harmonic sophistication to the rhythmic sophistication which drives samba.

Dom Salvador has been playing a lounge gig under the Brooklyn Bridge for the last 41 years!

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.