Brazil isn’t just about beaches, bikinis, balls and, er, deforestation. Brazil has a rich musical culture – and each of the host cities for this year’s World Cup has its own musical culture. Well, some of them are a bit light on for musical culture, but who needs musical culture when you have an efficient public transport system. Today, musician Al Kerr has a squiz at Rio de Janeiro.
The inter-city rivalry between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo is intense. Who has the best football teams? Who has the biggest contrast between rich and poor? Who has the longest traffic jams? Who has the finest music?
Rio de Janeiro is tourist drawcard, no doubt, but that also makes it fine bait for those easily seduced, duped or mugged. The best way to survive is to always make sure there is someone near you who looks richer and stupider.
As for the purpose of this column, Rio has music up the wazoo. It is the birthplace of modern samba, home of the sambadromo, and filled with countless small bars that feature choro, samba and more. A couple of generations ago, Rio gave the world bossa nova. It is easy to dismiss bossa nova as muzak, barely fit for elevators, but we really have the Americans to blame for that. The real thing is one of the most beautiful, understated and beguiling music styles there is (you can see how the Americans brutalised it so easily).
Head to Lapa and Santa Teresa to find some of Rio’s best music. Highlights include Bar Semente, Carioca da Gema, Clube dos Democráticos and Rio Scenarium.
And don’t forget about Brazilian Standard Time. Whatever time is given as a start time, or a time to meet, add an hour or so. On my first trip to a pre-carnaval rehearsal at Estácio de Sá, we arrived at the time given to us by a local friend, only to find we were the first ones there… by about an hour. The security guards are nice, but they will look at you like you’re a stupid gringo. Fair enough.
So, as for the rivalry between Cariocas and Paulistas. Who gives a stuff? Go to the beach and enjoy yourself. Don’t lose your wallet or your room key. In fact, best not to take anything.
Now, about this poster… that’s a nasty looking goitre… he should really get that looked at by a doctor.
Drummer/percussionist Alastair Kerr has performed with many of Australia’s finest jazz musicians. He is recognized as one of Australia’s leading Brazilian percussionists.