Pausa para uma água de coco na praia do Itararé em São Vicente
The blues family as I would define it, would be the world-wide network of blues lovers connected by the commonality of their deep love for blues music. I have often been deeply touched by the "family" connections, as I travel to play various festivals and concerts, both in North America and in Europe. Dave Riley and I recently had the honor to travel to Brazil (or Brasil as it is spelled in it's own country) to do a few concerts. This was our first time in South America and we were greeted with open arms. We were brought over by Adrian Flores, an Argentina born blues promoter, now living in Brazil, with a long resume of blues activity (blues drummer and vocalist, concert organizer, label owner, producer, and former blues radio show host, and blues club owner). Also in Adrian's team was Luciano "Big Mouth" Boca, a fine blues harmonica player, band leader, promoter and an official endorser of the Brazilian harmonica company Hering Harmonicas. Dave and I had two concerts together. Dave was able to stay an additional week and do two additional shows while I returned home for my previous commitment to do a show at the Tempe Center For The Arts.
Dave Riley em Poços de Caldas
Dave and I flew in on separate flights and met up at the airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It was a great coincidence to run into my old friend Teddy Morgan at the airport customs line as we both arrived in the country. It was here we met Adrian, Luciano, and their friend and aspiring harmonica player, Barney Virlei, who would be our driver for a good part of the trip. We had a 3 or 4 hour drive from Sao Paulo to Pocos de Caldas, where our first show would be. The drive involved some sight seeing. We stopped at a wonderful restaurant where waiters would bring skewers of various delicious meats, each with a unique and wonderful flavor. Dave Riley normally does not embrace the cuisine of a foreign country ("Where is the McDonald's?"), but he really took to the the Brazilian dishes. I really enjoyed the popular Brazilian specialty of chicken hearts, which I had never tasted before. At another point on this drive we stopped at a rest area and Dave and I took photos with some little monkeys who were easily persuaded from their tree by the lure of a banana. When we arrived at our destination we settled into our rooms, cleaned up, and had a nice dinner before rehearsing with Adrian Flores for the next night's show. Our first show was at an old train station that had been converted into a venue, and had become the home of a regular community concert series. Luciano Boca's band opened before Dave and I took the stage. Luciano and his son, Pedro Otávio, would later join us as special guests at the end of our set. It appears that the community was really primed for the show as we had a full house and an amazingly warm response. Thanks to Luciano's promotional efforts and to the kind people of Pocos De Caldas. To see the poster for this event click here.
Bob Corritone em Poços de Caldas
The next day started with a trip back to the Sao Paulo airport to catch a flight to beautiful Porto Alegre. This show featured Dave and I in duet stting in a beautiful concert room at a bank that hosts regular jazz and blues concerts. Once again we were treated to an enthusiastic full house. This audience in particular was very blues knowledgeable bunch, with folks eager to purchase our hard to come by American blues CDs. While on the road with Adrian Flores, I was very impressed by his many stories of bringing blues acts to South America. He has promoted tours with Phil Guy, John Primer, Hubert Sumlin, Lefty Dizz, Magic Slim, Eddie C. Campbell, Little Mack Simmons, James Cotton, Billy Branch, James Wheeler and Larry McCray. He played me numerous, priceless recordings from blues artists appearing on his former radio show, as well as some great live concert recordings. He gave me a present of a stack of wonderful CDs from his Blues Special record label including a Little Mack Simmons release that was done just a few months before Mack's passing. Adrian has also recorded a whole CD where he sings blues in Spanish to a traditional Chicago blues backing (Note that the language of Brazil is Portuguese while others country in South Amrican speak Spanish). Adrian really lives the blues and has done this music a greatm service by tirelessly promoting it to the South America people. His contributions are simply amazing.
Bob Corritone e Ivan Marcio na Harmonica Master em Santos
That was it for my shows, but I opted to take an extra day and a half in Sao Paulo where I would visit my friend Ivan Marcio, another fine Brazilian harmonica player that I met on-line a few years ago through Myspace, and would later meet in person at the Chicago Blues Festival. Ivan has worked and recorded with the Igor Prado Band who currently have an excellent new release out with Lynwood Slim on the Delta Groove label called Brazilian Kicks. Ivan recently released a CD called Chicago Blues Session Vol 1 recorded in the windy city in 2008. He played me some duet sessions he did with Jon McDonald that will be released in a forthcoming CD. Ivan took me around for some nice meals and some coconut milk (straight from the coconut). He also took me to an amazing store in Santos, Brazil, called Harmonica Master. This store is completely devoted to blues harmonica, and while there I met owner Rodrigo Morenno, and music writer Eugenio Martins Jr., who interviewed me for a future article. Ivan Marcio is also an official endorser of Bends Harmonicas, which is yet another Brazilian harmonica manufacturer. While I was at Harmonica Master, I was pleasantly surprised to learn of the many fine blues harmonica players living in Brazil.
In summary, I am now in love with Brazil, for its warm, beautiful people, the great food and culture, and for the blues scene it so joyously supports. Dave Riley and I both had the greatest time, and we are very excited to go back for a festival appearance in July. Obregado (that's thank youin portuguese). To see a photo page of some of the sites of our trip to Brazil click here.