By Pedro Souza
November 28, 2017

The guitar is an instrument that has inspired millions of people all over the world, giving birth to a plethora of musicians that took the instrument to its limits and created new forms, some more enduring than others. Among this legion of guitar players, few musicians have been able to play the instrument with as much mastery, intimacy and passion as Baden Powell de Aquino, more commonly known as Baden Powell.

Born in 1937, Powell was named after the founder of the scouting movement by his father, who used to be a boy scout. At the age of seven, he started playing the guitar when his father taught him a few basic chords. The young Powell quickly fell in love with the instrument, and soon learned everything his father could teach. The next year, he began to take classes from Jayme Florence, who used to play with legendary MPB musician Benedito Lacerda.

Powell learned very quickly, and at 9 years old he competed in a musical contest named “Papel Carbono”, which was played in the famous radio network “Rádio Nacional”. With his cover of Dilmerando Reis’ “magoado”, he was awarded first place in his category, which made him even more motivated to dedicate himself to playing guitar. At 13 years old he finished his guitar course, having had contact with many great musicians. He started then playing as a professional, playing for a cache in many different venues.

After finishing high school, Baden started playing at the orchestra of the “Rádio Nacional”, travelling through Brazil and playing through the country. In the fifties, he joined the trio of a pianist named Ed Lincoln, playing with them in a venue in Copacabana named Boite Plaza. As Powell made a name for himself, he started composing and playing with many musicians, such as Nilo Queiroz, Aloysio de Oliveira and Ruy Guerra. From this period, many of his hits were born; songs like “Não é Bem Assím”, “Rosa Flor”, “Vou Por Aí” and “Samba Triste”, which remains one of his most popular songs.

In the sixties, his life would change when he was visited by legendary poet and lyricist Vinicius de Moraes while playing a concert in Copacabana. Moraes called out to Powell and proposed that they write a few songs together. Soon, they would spend three months together in Moraes’ apartment with a tape recorder, a guitar and plenty of whiskey. This was the start of a legendary partnership, which resulted in some of Baden’s best works. It was from this partnership that the “afro-sambas” were born, albums that mixed classical samba with African rhythms and lyrics that were heavily influenced by African-Brazilian religion candomblé.

Still in the sixties, Powell would begin to make international tours and spread his music through the world. While he lived, he took the guitar to a new level, exploring a variety of styles such as jazz, bossa nova, MPB and samba. When he died in 2000, he had produced more than 40 albums, as well as a countless single recordings with some of the best musicians of his time. Though the man is gone, he has left some of the most beautiful guitar songs that have ever been recorded, and his memory lives on in every one that was inspired and touched by his music.

By Pedro Souza
March 27, 2017

With a rich musical heritage, Brazil boasts a plethora of musical legends. In a country that produced musicians such as Villa Lobos, Raul Seixas, Baden Powell and Chico Buarque, few musicians are as loved and missed as Tim Maia. Maia, whose real name was Sebastião Rodrigues Maia, was born in 1942 in the neighborhood of Tijuca in Rio de Janeiro. During his teenage years, he started playing drums at a band called “Tijucanos do Ritmo” formed in a church near his house. Maia soon switched to playing the guitar however.

In 1957, he founded a vocal band known as “The Sputniks”, which featured musicians such as Roberto Carlos, Arlênio Silva, Edson Trindade and Wellington. The band acquired some degree of popularity playing in a rock program in the TV channel “Canal Tupi”. After “The Sputniks” disbanded, Maia left Brazil to live in the United States in 1959. It was there that he had contact with soul music, which he quickly fell in love with. He started singing there in a vocal group called “The Ideals”, where he was known as “Jim”. His stay in the United States was short however, ending when Maia was deported back to Brazil in 1963 after being condemned for theft and drug possession.

Coming back from the United States, Maia brought soul music with him. In 1968, he produced Eduardo Araújo’s album “O som é o boogaloo”, which played an important part in the history of soul music in Brazil. It was also this year that he launched his first solo album through CBS, a compact disk with the song “Meu País” and “Sentimento”. In 1969, his popularity increased with the release of his second compact disk, this one with the songs “These are Songs” and “What Do You Want to Bet”.

While Maia’s name was growing, fame would come in the following year with the release of his album “Tim Maia”, which contains some of his classic tracks such as “Primavera” and “Eu amo você”. This album was followed by a series of other successful albums in between 1971 and 1975 named “Tim Maia Volume II”, “Tim Maia Volume III” and Tim Maia Volume IV”. In 1975 however, his career went through a drastic change due to his contact with a spiritual doctrine known as “Cultura Racional” (Rational Culture). In between 1975 and 1976 he launched two albums named “Racional Volume I” and “Racional Volume II” in which he expounded the doctrine of the Cultura Racional. Despite the fact that few people know about Cultura Racional nowadays, the albums he wrote during this phase are considered by many to be among his best, with a musicality heavily influenced by funk and soul music. After disagreements with Manuel Jacinto Coelho, who was the leader of Cultura Racional, Maia turned his back on the doctrine and took the albums out of circulation, turning them into a collectors item.

Maia proceeded to cruise through the eighties in a whirlwind of concerts and drugs, releasing more successful albums such as “Tim Maia” (1986) and the LP “O Descobridor dos Sete Mares”. In 1985, he recorded a version of the song “Um Dia de Domingo” from Michael Sullivan and Paulo Massadas together with the legendary MPB singer Gal Costa. He also took part in a musical named “Cida, a Gata Roqueira” (Cida, the Rocker Cat) in 1986, inspired by the movie “The Blues Brothers”. Maia began the 90’s releasing an album in which he interpreted bossa nova songs, displaying once again his amazing versatility. He would go on to record more bossa nova, soul music, pop and funk songs through the nineties. Unfortunately, his heavy drug use was taking a heavy toll on Maia, who became known for his problems maintaining his schedule for concerts and recordings. In march 1988, Maia was attempting to record a TV show when he felt ill and left the recording room without any explanation. He was taken to the hospital that day, where he would die from a generalized infection on March 15 at the age of 55.

Thus died one of the biggest musical legends in the history of Brazil. The country mourned that day, and musicians from all over Brazil paid tribute to Maia. Although his life was cut short, the mark he left on the Brazilian music scene remains strong. Nowadays, the man is no longer with us, but his music lives on and reminds us of his greatness.

Tropcalia222By Pedro Souza
August 29th, 2016

The sixties in Brazil were marked by the beginning of a bloody dictatorship, which started in 1964 and went all the way from 1985. The repression didn’t affect only communists and other leftists, but it also arrested and tortured many artists from all different fields. Yet, one of the most vibrant musical movements in the history of Brazil emerged during this period. Known as tropicália or tropicalismo, it emerged at the end of the sixties, exploding into the artistic scene during the Festival de Música Popular (Popular Music Festival) that took place in 1967 organized by TV Record.

Characterized by its syncretism, it had an “everything goes” attitude, mixing musical styles such as rock, bossa nova, baião and samba among others. It is also responsible for the introduction of the electric guitar in the Brazilian musical scene, which provoked revolt among some classical musicians who complained that Braziliam music was being corrupted by North-American influences. The movement also pushed forward many aesthetic changes. Morals, behavior and sexuality were influenced by tropicália, and many aspects of the hippie counterculture were assimilated into Brazil, such as the colorful clothing and long hair.

Lyrically, the musicians that took part in it were very poetic, making social critiques and talking about ordinary things in an innovative way. Although there were social critiques in some of the lyrics, using music as a weapon against the dictatorship wasn’t among the top priorities of the movement. Because of this, its artists were often criticized by other musicians, which were using their music as a form of protest. In response, the proponents of tropicalismo argued that changing the face of music was revolutionary in itself.

The movement launched some of the most popular artists in the country, and many albums released during this time are now considered classics. Musicians such as Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Tom Zé, Gal Costa and the psychedelic rock band Mutantes changed the Brazilian musical scene forever. With their TV appearances, organized events and collaborative albums, they quickly sent shockwaves through Brazil, leaving their mark in history. Despite its popularity, the movement was short lasted. Even though the musicians that took place in it weren’t as militant as other sectors of the Brazilian musical scene, its libertarian tendencies caused it to be repressed by the dictatorship. In 1969, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil were arrested and sent in exile, which sent the movement tumbling down.

Thus ended one of the most notorious musical movements In Brazil. Yet, while it lasted only a few years, it changed Brazilian music and culture forever. Its influence can still be seen in Brazilian cinema and theater, and in the attitude and aesthetics of some parts of Brazilian counter-culture. Many contemporary artists such as Secos e Molhados and Nação Zumbi were also heavily influenced by tropicália. The movement also left us some of the best music that has been produced in Brazil, which is still widely listened and appreciated worldwide.

SaoPauloRap222By Pedro Souza
August 2nd, 2016

The largest city in South America, São Paulo is a megalopolis with around 20 million inhabitants. The city that never sleeps has much beauty in it, but it is also riddled with social problems. Luxury condominiums and hulking skyscrapers coexist side by side with slums, and poor neighborhoods abound in the city. People from these areas are constantly dealing with problems such as crime, poverty, prejudice and police violence. In this environment, Brazilian rap emerged as a way to express these issues, and gave these communities a voice.

The origins of Brazilian hip-hop and rap can be traced to parties in the eighties known as “bailes black”. These parties which quickly became popular included performances known as “funk falado” (spoken funk), which were the first rap battles in Brazil. Towards the end of the eighties, American rap and hip-hop artists started to present themselves at these parties as well, injecting their influence into the emerging rap-culture. The main meeting point for early rappers was near the São Bento metro station, where the paulista punk culture was also taking shape.

It is at this point that the first names of Brazilian rap started to appear, names like Pepeu & Mike, Mc Ninja and Thaíde. In the early nineties, the rap scene in São Paulo had already consolidated, with its own names, values and culture. The influence from the North American west coast rap scene is clearly visible in the clothing that was adopted by paulista rap fans, but the native rap culture developed with its own set of values and musical style. The rap from São Paulo usually has a simple beat, with lyrics focusing on the issues faced by marginalized populations. As the paulista rap become popular and started attracting media attention in the early nineties, it also brought attention to these issues, causing many people to see these communities in a new light.

It was at this time that the first large names of Brazilian rap started to appear. Among these names, one man stands out: Sabotage. Born Matheus dos Santos in the Brooklin neighborhood, Sabotage quickly rose to prominence when he started performing with Brazilian rap group RZO. The man who is called by some “the Brazilian 2pac” went on to launch albums, act in movies and perform with many popular Brazilian artists from different musical styles. Unfortunately, his career was cut short when he was murdered in 2003 for reasons that are still not clear. Although his career lasted a little over a decade, his legacy still stands, inspiring marginalized youth of São Paulo.

Another name worth mentioning is Racionais Mc’s, a group consisting of the mcs Mano Brown and Edi Rock, and the dj Kl Jay. Funded in 1989, they quickly became popular with their heavy lyrics focused on denouncing the ways that capitalism, racism and the police work together to oppress São Paulo’s rap youth. Nowadays, they are by far the most popular Brazilian rappers, and have had an enormous influence in the scene.

Nowadays, rap culture in São Paulo has matured, giving birth to names like Facção Central, Emicida, Rashid and Projota. It continues to provide the excluded with a way to express their problems and be heard, and it remains one of the strongest and most original rap scenes in the world.

RaulSeixas222
By Pedro Souza
May 31, 2016

Brazil is a country that boasts a rich musical heritage. Musicians like Carmen Miranda, Tom Jobin, Catano Veloso, Chico Buarque, Luiz Gonzaga and Elis Regina have left their mark in history, and are now appreciated worldwide. Yet, few musicians have influenced the music and culture of Brazil as profoundly as Raul Seixas, who is called by many the father of Brazilian rock.

Raul was born in 1945 in Salvador, in the state of Bahia. In his teenage years he was introduced to rock ‘n’ roll when a friend lent him some albums. He fell in love with the style, listening to the likes of Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley, who was his main inspiration. In the late fifties, a young Raul gathered some friends and formed a band. As he got his first taste of playing live, the band went through many changes in name and composition before settling for “Os Panteras” in 1963. By the time the band consolidated, they had turned into a local sensation. In 1968 they launched an album, named “Raulzito e os Panteras” (Raulzito and the Panthers).

The album was a failure, ignored by both the critics and the public. Determined to make his way into the music scene, Raul entered the VII Festival Internacional da Canção (International Song Festival) presenting two songs: “Eu sou eu, Nicuri é o diabo” (I am me, Nicuri is the devil) and “Let me sing, let me sing”, a song that mixed rock ‘n’ roll with a Baião, a traditional musical style from northeast of Brazil. Although he didn’t win the prize, his song “Let me sing let me sing” reached the finals, enchanting the public with its originality and eclecticism.

Raul’s name was growing, but fame would only arrive in 1973 when Raul launched his first solo album titled “Krig-ha, Bandolo!”. The album was a huge success, featuring songs that are still considered to be some of his best. The highlight of the album is “Ouro de Tolo” (Fool’s Gold), a scathing critic of the middle-class dream of finding a job and consuming your way to happiness. Another classic song from the album is Metamorfose Ambulante. Even nowadays most Brazilians are familiar with the song chorus that goes: “Eu prefiro ser uma metamorfose ambulante do que ter aquela velha opinião formada sobre tudo” (I would rather be a walking metamorphosis than have the same old opinions about everything).

In 1974 Raul launched the Sociedade Alternativa (Alternative Society) with the Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho. Heavily influenced by English Occultist Aleister Crowley, the society was centered around studying philosophy and the esoteric. The influences Raul acquired during this period are quite evident in his lyrics from this point onwards, as Raul always used his songs as a way to express his personal philosophy. He was also planning to start living communally with the society in the state of Minas Gerais, until he was caught by the repression led by the military junta which governed Brazil at the time. Arrested and tortured, he went in exile into the United States.

In this year, he also launched his second solo album, named Gita. With more than 600,000 copies sold, the album earned Raul his first Golden certification. The tracks “Gita”, “A Sociedade Alternativa” (The Alternative Society) and “O Trem das 7” (7’s Train) are considered some of his best songs. Well established into the music scene, Raul would go on to launch many albums in the following years, teaming up with other musicians such as Claudio Roberto and Marcelo Nova. As Raul kept playing, he grew into a legend, but his health started deteriorating due to his alcoholism. In the eighties, the quality of his music had clearly deteriorated as well, and he often played his concerts in a sorry state.

In august 1989, Brazil cried when Raul died of an alcohol-induced pancreatitis at the age of 44. Now, 26 years after his death, he is more alive than ever. His eclectic mixes of rock with traditional Brazilian musical styles and poetic yet comical lyrics have influenced and still influence many musicians to this day. He is also the main musical influence of the Brazilian counterculture, becoming almost a patron saint for Brazilian hippies. In live shows and campfires, his music requested so often that it has become an ongoing joke among Brazilians. Sometimes, when a band playing live takes a break between songs, someone will get up and jokingly scream “Toca Raul!” (Play some Raul), and everyone will have a good laugh.

By Pedro Souza, Staff Writer
July 21, 2015

When people think about partying in Brazil, scenes from carnival are the first thing that come to mind. But what many dont know, is that Brazil has one of the strongest EDM scenes in the world, with plenty of clubs and festivals for enthusiasts to enjoy. Below, we have compiled some of the best EDM festivals in Brazil for you to enjoy.

Tomorrowland Brasil
The largest EDM festival in the world has finally arrived at Brazil. Founded in 2005 in the Town of Boom, located in Belgium, the yearly festival started expanding to other continents when it launched its North American version called Tomorroworld in 2013. On July 2014, the festival announced it would launch its Brazilian version named Tomorrowland Brasil, which had its first edition take place the 1st to the 3rd of May of 2015 in the city of Itu, located in the state of São Paulo.

The festival was a huge success, with 180,000 people gathering to see a whos who list of EDM powerhouse DJs such as Alok, David Guetta, Jamie Jones and Kolombo. The attractions of the festival go way beyond the music. During the days it takes place, a fantasy world is created for festivalgoers to immerse themselves in, with amazing sceneries complete with actors dressed as mythical creatures and artistic performances and pyrotechnics taking place during the concerts. There is also a camping area called DreamVille where people can lodge in comfy tents, with its own party known as “The Gathering”, that takes place the day before the festival starts. As if this wasnt enough, the festivals offers a wide variety of foods from all over the world, made by internationally acclaimed chefs.

Tickets cost from R$199.50 to R$1,899.00. Despite the high prices tickets sell out in a few hours, so potential visitors should enter the waiting line for tickets at the official website (www.tomorrowlandbrasil.com) if they want to have a good chance at getting tickets. Yet, this once in a lifetime experience is worth every penny, and should be experienced at least once by EDM enthusiasts.

Universo Paralelo
At the end of every second year, the Paringui Beach in the state of Bahia is graced with Universo Paralello, a cultural festival that reunites people from all over the world to celebrate culture, arts and music. The Patingui beach has more than 30km of coast, displaying a dazzling beauty that makes it a perfect place for such an event. The area offers a camping site, bathrooms, a pharmacy, bins for dry and organic trash, showers, a food shop, a community kitchen and an open fair that sells a variety of goods such as clothes and decoration items. 28km away from the beach is the city of Ituber, where one can find gas stations, supermarkets, banks and hospitals among other services which are not be be found in the festival site.

During 9 days, around 20,000 people gather there to appreciate the festival, which displays some of the best names in the national and international EDM scene. DJs such as Rica Amaral, Neelix, Avalon and Captain Hook have already graced the festival, which is divided into 5 different stages. Although many fans go there for its array of EDM concerts, the festival also offers concerts of a wide variety of musical styles such as rap, reggae, funk and jazz music.

Apart from the music, there are many activities that take place during the festival. There are talks, workshops, shamanic ceremonies and many others, most of which take place in the “Arena Circulou” and the “Tenda de Cura” (healing tent). These activities offer a great opportunity for cultural exchange, and greatly enhance the overall festival experience. Tickets for the festival range between R$460 to R$590, and can be bought at the festivals website at the following address: www.universoparalello.org.

You can contact Pedro via pedro@gringoes.com.

Previous articles by Pedro:

6 Common Mistakes Foreigners Make Trying to Speak Portuguese in Brazil
Brazil: 10 Hiking Trails for Nature Lovers in the State of São Paulo – Part 1