Dona Dalva is the 90-something matriarch of samba de roda in Cachoeira, Bahia. Her Casa do Samba (House of Samba) in the center of Cachoeira will be open for the extremely traditional days of festivity in the very festive month of June. With samba, é claro!
The Varanda do SESI is the veranda of the Teatro SESI (SESI Theater) located on the water in the neighborhood of Rio Vermelho. It’s open, but protected from inclement weather (which of course means rain in Salvador)…a nice place to listen to music, with food and drinks available. Choro every Monday night.
Note: In the process from moving from our old site to this new one, this particular question follows suit and will shortly be moved into our inFrequently Asked Questions section…
Now, with respect to the question at hand, if you knew me you might say that the answer is that this schlub is from Indiana and now he lives in Bahia and who cares and so what and you might think this a boring and pointless and fruitless question and you’d be right.
Not knowing me you’re probably thinking that the connection must have something to do with lovely Begin the Beguine…tropical splendor and all that. And in a certain sense a case could be made for such, but that connection is awfully general. Almost any two things can somehow be made to somehow connect; any charlatan fortune teller can tell you that.
So, in blithely intrepid spirit: Mr. Porter’s song Anything Goes is built on a clave (especially easy to hear in this part and a couple of others down the line):
If driving fast cars you like, If low bars you like, If old hymns you like, If bare limbs you like, If Mae West you like, Or me undressed you like…
This clave, called by some a tresillo, is what Jelly Roll Morton referred to as “the Spanish tinge”. It’s one two, and one two, and one two…
It exploded into widespread popular American (sub)consciousness with a song and dance called the Charleston. And the Charleston, musically and dancilly, is firmly rooted in the Gullah culture of the sea islands of South Carolina and Georgia.
The clave also firmly underpins the primordial samba of Bahia, so much so that it had to be removed (or in some cases attenuated and sidelined) from the samba of a group of kids in Rio de Janeiro in the ’20s to make samba marchable-to during Carnival (a Bahian percussionist figured out another way to do this for Carnival in Salvador).
So the connection of course is West Africa. Thank god! Where else would the Smart Set have gone to get their music and dance from? Not to mention Bahia?
I don’t know, but I’ve been told that Brazilian telenovelas are shown on Russian TV and are very popular…
Bland melodrama…interminable conversations…certainly no more interesting in the language of Pushkin than in the original Portuguese.
So there’s a new prime time novela on now and it’s generating polemics here in the country of order and progress. It’s entitled Segundo Sol (Second Sun) and it’s set in Bahia, where most people have some, if not a lot of, if not mostly African ancestry. Except that if all one were to know about Bahia is what one were to see on the novela, one would not be aware of this. In this sense, in the novela, Bahia doesn’t look all that much different from Nizhny Novgorod (presumably; correct me if I’m wrong).
Of the series’ 27 principal actors, 3 are black. That’s less the the percentage of African ancestry that Pushkin had. But then the series does revolve around so-called axé music, the frothy unremarkable pop that got popular in Bahia in the ’80s and continued its run through the ’90s. At this point in the twenty-teens, reigning axé queen mother Ivete Sangalo still seems to be doing well with it (does she put out records anymore?). I will defer to Roque Ferreira (composer of beautiful Bahian music) who said something along the lines of “That woman will record anything tossed in front of her that she thinks she can make money on.”
But we are talking about the Globo network after all. Rather than go with what’s great and real and really great (authentic Bahian music and plenty of black people) they go with fake that makes money.
Friday, May 18th, at the Museu Afro Brasileiro on Salvador’s Terreiro de Jesus in the Centro Histórico, from 6 p.m. (note: most things in Bahia tend to get started sometime after their official starting time).
Short stories based in the daily life of Afro-Brazilians.
This is the 40th edition in the 40th year since this series came to life in 1978, featuring 42 authors including 8 baianos (Bahians). The book is 40 reais.
There will be a pocket show by Juraci Tavares, writer, philosopher, professor, and composer of music for blocos afros/afoxés Ilê Aiyê, Malê de Balê, Cortejo Afro, Filhos de Gandhy and others.
The festas juninas — the cycle of street parties celebrated in the Brazilian Nordeste (Northeast) and built around the feast days of Santo Antônio, São João and São Pedro, but usually lumped together as São João — will be again celebrated here in Salvador’s Centro Histórico with the appropriate polar opposite of pomp and circumstance.
São João in Bahia is more Christmas-like than Christmas. It’s a harvest festival built largely around corn; celebratory people returning to the small towns and little villages from whence they sprung in the interior…to the ancestral fold of family and generations-long friendship. Where tables are set with sweet corncakes and corn puddings, and licor de jenipapo, a traditional cordial made from an odd-looking fruit native to the region.
Where the dance music is played on accordion or bandoneon or concertina, and triangle like you’ve never heard it played outside of Brazil; and zabumba, a Portuguese drum played with Afro-Brazilian rhythms. The umbrella term for this music is “forró” (faw-HAW, kind of), covering several assorted cadences.
There will be forró in the praças (public squares) of Pelourinho throughout June, and on the nights of June 23rd, 24th and 25th there will forró by big-names (Alceu Valença, Elba Ramalho, Geraldo Azevedo among them) on a stage set up in the Terreiro de Jesus.
Traditional party attire is small-town hillbilly, country-style stamped fabric-dresses for the women and girls, straw hats for both men and women, with little boys sporting drawn-on moustaches and little girls daubed on freckles (even little black girls).
There was a period there where a music lover not knowing what to do or where to go on Wednesday nights in Salvador could head to Casa da Mãe in Rio Vermelho and there would be a great and happening roda de choro.
Now it appears that, for however long this period will extend itself, the standard has turned to Thursday, where choro group Patuscada plays their own beautiful arrangements of classics and new material (at Casa da Mãe, in the Salvador neighborhood of Rio Vermelho, on the Orla (coast road) just across this road from the north end of the Praia da Yemanjá).
From 10 p.m. or so. 10 reais cover. Food and drinks on the premises.
Patuscada is Elisa Goritzki: flauta, Daniel Velloso: violão 7 cordas, Dudu Reis: cavaco, Reinaldo Boaventura: pandeiro, Gel Barbosa: sanfona.