Archive for the ‘March’ Category
Another beautiful day in the neighborhood. I stick pretty close to home today doing this and that, and in the evening go out to check out a new roda for me, in Flamengo. It was started by the bandolim class at EPM, and today marks their 2 year anniversary. Luciana A, who invited me, said there would be lots of people there to celebrate, and it’s a new destination for me so I leave my bandolim at home. I feel pretty confident of being able to safely navigate here in Rio, but when in doubt I always err on the side of caution. It’s an informal jam, as L. said, with more bandolims than I have ever seen at a roda, and they move in and out, playing sometimes, talking sometimes. Some old friends are here and its good to reconnect. I am just thinking of heading home when suddenly here’s Ronald do Bandolim! I say hi and we chat for a bit and then he grabs his bandolim and sits in for a set with the group. Sheila Zagury has also showed up and set up a keyboard, unusual for a roda, and later my friend Bia arrives with her clarinet. The roda jumps a whole level, but still includes the local crew. The 7-string to Ronaldo’s right is solidly in “the kitchen,” and there’s a good pandeiro player as well. It’s a cool evening of choro. I’ll be back to play with them next week.
Today I get by, with a little help from my friends. Up early to go play at the Sao Salvador roda, only to find out my amp isn’t working. Somehow it got messed up on the flight here, and I didn’t check it earlier so now there is nothing to be done. So I head out, with Iziane who has heard about the roda but has never gone. When I arrive, there is a cord and a slot in an amplifier for me– miraculous, and we have fun playing the tunes I miss so much when I am in the US. It is great to be back in Sao Salvador square, which has even more people and stalls selling crafts and food and drink and CDs than before. I see some old friends, make some new ones. Later in the evening I go with R. to a new roda at a bar right in our neighborhood. He plays, but I just want to watch the first time. Nice for me, the regular flute player is out, and they have invited a bandolimist I don’t know, Fredie, who has an interesting and original style. The music is good and it turns out that I know one of the players from a different context– we were both part of a festival in Rio where I played North American classical music. He makes me promise to play next week and I am happy to agree. Home late after a long and fun day of choro music.
A day for friends and communication. I meet R & C & little G for breakfast. They reassure me that my transportation experience yesterday is not uncommon, because the whole system of busses was redone into hubs for the Olympics, in an effort to ease traffic. They have both found out the same hard way that I did that old routes don’t run as expected, and R. helps me figure out the routes for the rest of my day with the app Moovit. I say good-bye and head off to Saturday Choro school, to hear the music of the gigantic Bandao, and in hopes of running into friends who can direct me to any new rodas upcoming. I am running early, so stop at the Rio Sul Shopping on the way to get a new sim card for my phone– because I just can’t stand depending on wifi for my communication needs, as it is pretty useless away from home. The girl at Tim, the cell company I use, is so determined to get me up and running and onto What’s App that I nearly miss Bandao, but arrive just in time to hear “Um, dois, um e dois e” as the music begins. I reconnect with friends, get some information, then head off to a late lunch with M., and R’s directions are perfect. We catch up in a chi-chi restaurant, as is our tradition. So now I am connected, in person and by phone. And somehow today it feels like my soul finally arrives.
A lovely view from Copacabana beach, an expected shot from a tourist visiting Rio. But mostly otherwise this is a proverbial “dumb day.” Sigh… I spend the morning figuring out how to take public transportation to my various destinations over the next couple of days and then set off for Copacabana, directions in my notebook, for a trial run and to get a ticket for a concert I’m going to next week. The ride there is fine, I get the ticket, walk to the beach, then decide it might be best to navigate home before dark rather than having a beer by the sea. The next 3 hours I will spare you, but suffice it to say that all the bus numbers have changed, and Google maps isn’t up to date yet. I am never in danger or lost, but have to ask for help, and get advice for what turns out to be a really long way home on a local bus route at rush hour. Again, sigh… The absolute highlight of my day turns out to be lunch, pictured left. A portion of traditional feijoada– a meat and bean stew– served with rice, greens, farofa, and orange slices. And a guarana soda to drink. Delicious.
I head downtown, where ultimately I will go to a concert, but first I intend to wander about. But it is hot, I am still not in sync with my surroundings, and so, after a beet & carrot juice at my favorite juicebar (I kid you not, it is delicious, and seems the easiest way to get some healthy foods into my body) and some desultory strolling, I cut the wandering short and sink into the comfort of a leather chair and AC in a Starbucks with an iced green tea, and write. Cowardly, but so refreshing. The concert turns out to be a multi-media presentation of choro history with a live band playing and old photos and recordings– how I wish I could bring it home as there are English subtitles! Alas, not yet. Pictured at left, performing, Luciana Rabello, cavaquinho-player extraordinaire and President of the newly opened Casa de Choro, where the concert takes place. As I leave, a bit nervous about getting to the subway after dark, I meet a 77-year-old woman going the same way and we walk and chat together. An inspiration. Off the subway, onto the connecting bus, and I am home, my musical adventures well begun.
a world of music beckons me
I enter with my mandolin
and sturdy travelers we begin
our trek through many lifetimes see
the path unfurl its history
of jongleurs lutes sad serenades
courtiers barbers renegades
we follow hoping they somehow
knew that we would and somewhere bow
acknowledging our accolades
My street is a dead-end, a rambling cobblestone lane that lies beyond a formidable steel gate. My neighborhood is truly a peaceful village in this huge noisy city. There is no through traffic, the workmen depart at 5:00 and everyone seems to have parked their cars by dark. And somehow the hill blocks the noise of the metropolis so last night was silent and dark, and as I write this all I hear is the hum of an air conditioner across the street, and infrequently some conversation. I finish unpacking, write a few ideas of melodies, and walk around to explore my neighborhood. Later I walk with R.to pick up his son G. at daycare, but don’t go far from home. I am still waiting for my soul to arrive. “She knows, now, absolutely… that Damien’s theory of jet lag is correct: that her mortal soul is leagues behind her, being reeled in on some ghostly umbilical down the vanished wake of the plane that brought her here, hundreds of thousands of feet above the Atlantic. Souls can’t move that quickly, and are left behind, and must be awaited, upon arrival, like lost luggage.” William Gibson, Pattern Recognition.