Archive for ‘Music Travel’
Morocco, Essaouira Gnawa Festival
With Britain seemingly turning into the Antarctic, we are beginning to question whether the sun still exists. Well, you can rest assured that there’ll be no shortage of sun at this June’s Gnawa & World Music Festival in the beautiful, whitewashed town of Eassaouira, Morocco.
Built by the Portuguese, the port town of Essaouira is a delightfully picturesque tumble of narrow whitewashed alleyways opening onto beautiful squares. It is the centre of Gnawa music, the ancient, spiritual and joyously danceable African Islamic song tradition.For four days every June, Essaouira is taken over by the Gnawa & World Music Festival, which features masters of Gnawa music performing alongside some of the best musicians in world music.
Songlines Music Travel will guide you through this extraordinary festival, leading you to the very best musical offerings from local and international artists and to heady late-night sessions in atmospheric venues. There will also be plenty of opportunities to explore the delights of the bazaar, the fishing harbour, the medina and the glorious, endlessly long sandy beaches.
Sun, sea, sounds and the Songlines Music Travel team … what more could you want?
For further details of what promises to be an unforgettable trip, visit:
For information on other Songlines Music Travel trips, visit:
The Times Destinations Show at London’s Earls Court is now in full swing. Make sure that you head down this weekend to meet the Songlines team and find out about the exciting selection of worldwide musical excursions taking place in 2013 as part of Songlines Music Travel. From Cuba to Cape Verde, Jamaica to Rajasthan, there is something for everyone as we take you on an expert-led guide to all the best sights and sounds across the world.
The musically omnipresent Songlines editor-in-chief, Simon Broughton, will be giving a talk at 10:45am – World Music Festival: An insider’s Guide.
We also have an exclusive Destinations-only competition for a chance to win 50 top world and folk music albums, including Anoushka Shankar, Fatoumata Diawara and Staff Benda Bilili.
Songlines intern Rebbecca Neofitou’s final instalment of her musical adventures in Rio de Janeiro with the London-based samba ensemble, Rhythms of the City
The last week of our trip had a metaphorical cloud over it as people started to leave for London and our time here was coming to a end. However, we had one last boost that meant we could leave on a high.
Mestre Odilon had come to watch us play during a rehearsal and as soon as he entered the door, everyone was more nervous than I had ever seen them before. Mestre Odilon is one of the most important figures in the world of bateria samba today. He was the first to completely organise every instrument of the bateria in meticulous detail so naturally, everyone knew that they were being watched very carefully. To our pleasant surprise, Mestre Odilon liked the way we played and then presented us with the opportunity to play at his samba school, GRES. União da Ilha do Governador before his own bateria took to the stage.
As far as we know, no other UK-based band have been asked to play exclusively by themselves at a samba school before. This was a great honour for us all given how much samba schools are respected within the Brazilian community and we had a large task at hand to make sure we performed a set that respected what they wanted to hear. Given that our niche is playing pop, we were apprehensive to play much within our set in case the audience didn’t like it because they were there to hear samba. However, judging by their amazing dance moves during our renditions of ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ and ‘I Want You Back’ as well as all the sambas, they thoroughly enjoyed the set we played for them.
After we had finished, Odilon invited us to play within the bateria. Unlike when we played at Mangueira, this was a much more relaxed atmosphere. We were able to jump in and out of the bateria whenever we wanted, whether it was to grab another beer or to have a dance and then jump straight back in. Everyone was so welcoming and made us feel completely at home with them.
Return to London
We are now slowly settling back into our old lives again. However, we have come back a changed band. This trip to Rio has taught each of us so many things and we can now return and pass on the knowledge to the rest of our bloco to make our band even stronger. We did not anticipate how receptive the Brazilian audience were going to be to our music and as a result, there is a general hope within the band that we return to Rio so we can work with the amazing musicians out there again. Through working with Monobloco and Bloco do Sargento Pimenta, we have made life-long friends that we will hopefully see and work with again.
On a more personal note, Rio has left a massive impression on me. Throughout my time there, it seemed as if everyone was a musician – most people were able to play at least one instrument of a pagode band or bateria and could happily give you a break from playing and take over. Unlike in London where a gig has a definite divide between the audience and band, there is a lot more interaction between the two in Rio which probably comes from their nature of being welcoming and sociable.
Even in the language, there is a melody in the way that they speak and every street corner you turn, there is always music playing from inside somewhere, no matter what time of day it is. Samba definitely beats strong within the heart of Rio and is something that the cariocas are very proud and passionate about. I hope to return to Rio soon to see my new friends and get away from the now unsatisfactory weather of London, but mainly to rejoin the music community again – a place of happiness, equality and SAMBA!
Songlines intern Rebbecca Neofitou checks back in with us while in Rio de Janeiro with the London-based samba ensemble, Rhythms of the City
Before we left London, it was confirmed that we were to be the support act for Monobloco at Circo Voador and finally, the week leading up to it was upon us! We knew it was going to be hard work given that this would be one of our biggest gigs yet and the week was full of rehearsal time. Monobloco had very kindly lent us their studios in Botafogo to practice in and we got down to serious work. Over the course of the weeks, we had seen large posters on billboards with our names, advertising our stint with Monobloco so we knew this was not going to be our average gig…
We arrived at Circo Voador for an early sound check and watched Monobloco rehearsing their set. Before I even entered the venue I could hear them, but the quality of their playing made me think I was listening to a recording. Circo Voador, which literally means ‘flying circus’ is a big tent, so there is no escape from the heat. Combined with the hot lights, the sound check alone was very sweaty and we were due to encounter all of that again whilst sharing the space with 3,000 people in the audience.
As we all walked on stage, there were so many expectant eyes staring up at us. Most of them had come to see Monobloco, but our varied set meant they fell in love with us and us with them. We opened with ‘Ritmos da Cidade,’ which was written for us by Gabriel Lopes of Monobloco, and followed on with our bateria versions of modern pop, Motown, soca, salsa and of course, traditional samba.
Our rendition of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ was complete with zombie dance routine and during the soca, our dancers taught the audience the moves. The smiles on all the faces were so wonderful to see. The crowd went wild when Monobloco frontman, Fabão Allman, joined us for two traditional samba songs.
We came off stage on such a high. Everyone was hot, sweaty and laughing with joy. There were shouts of “Parabéns!” from everyone, which means ‘congratulations.’ It was easily one of the best gigs I’ve ever performed. Monobloco kindly asked us to join them for their last few songs. We performed the last song of the night in the audience, jumping down from the stage one by one with our instruments and walking through the crowd. It was such a fabulous show and a memory that will never be forgotten.
On behalf of Rhythms of the City, I would like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year!