Alastair Kerr has done it all in Brazil: he’s played with great musicians, got sand down his g-string, and been mugged. He’s been looking at the musical traditions of each of the host cities for the 2014 FIFA Budweiser-Castrol-Continental-Johnson+Johnson-McDonalds-Moypark-Oi-YingLiSolar World Cup™. So far we’ve pondered the abject lack of musical culture of the cities that will host the Socceroos: Cuiabá, Porto Alegre and Curitiba. To mix things up, we’ve considered some joints that do indeed have a local musical culture: Recife and São Paulo. Today we’re getting down and dirty with Salvador.
The Netherlands and Spain kick things off in the North-eastern city of Salvador on June 13. Salvador da Bahia is home to cheap tourist tat and amazing music. A centre for Afro-Brazilian culture and easily scammed gringos. Perfeito!
Salvador is considered the most African city in Brazil, and Afro-Brazilian music abounds, from the atabaque drums in the traditions of Candomble (an Afro-Brazilian syncretic religion), to the contemporary sounds of groups such as Olodum and Muzenza.
The easiest way to find music in Salvador is to open your door and follow your ears. The historical centre (the Pelourinho) is filled with music at most hours of the day. Look out for free concerts in public squares, or on the steps of colonial churches. In the afternoons you might catch the young kids of Olodum learning the samba-reggae grooves developed by Neguinho do Samba.
For a broad taste of Afro-Brazilian traditions, it is well worth seeing Bale Folclorico. But, if you prefer pasteurised and homogenised, look for some of Bahia’s stars, such as Daniela Mercury. Or perhaps Carlinhos Brown, who’s caxirolas promise to be significantly less annoying than the vuvuzela – largely because they’ve been banned.
And the poster… Is that the oppressive net of bureaucracy holding back the ball of individualism?