As a jazz singer I of course wanted to experience something of what was on offer at Rio’s jazz venues. Foursquare had a recent article on this. But what of other gigs? Where to go? The Culture Trip site provided some listings and an interesting read by Paste Magazine listed by area. The Brazil book by Sounds and Colours described ‘Roda de samba’ the tradition of a samba jam session around a table. I definitely wanted to experience this. Listening to the accompanying Brazil book CD I came across Alessandra Leau and found further tracks by her on Spotify.
My first conversation with a local about music was Ruddy a taxi driver who had lived in Rio for 29 years. He liked metal not samba! My first encounter with some live music was sipping a beer at the Nature Cafe up at Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) at 10am. The relaxing sway of the music just added to the fact that you really can’t get worked up about anything in this heat. It was 36 degrees.
From other reading impromptu street music would hopefully provide another source of experiencing the culture of Rio. I didn’t have to wait long. A visit to the Selaron steps and a conversation with a street guitarist revealed he was playing ‘Aquarela do Brasil‘, one of Brazil’s most famous songs. He also directed me to some amazing street art of Carman Miranda the famous Portuguese/Brazilian samba singer just straight on from the bottom of the steps. Well worth a look. If you like street art then you will love this area. If you are looking for an interesting way to visit the Selaron steps then eat rio food tour is a must. A brilliant way to experience local culture through food.
A visit to a bar called Bip Bip didn’t prove fruitful for live music which was just very unlucky and unusual. The atmosphere was great for chatting to the locals though. You get your own beers from the fridge and the owner marks them on his sheet. You pay when you leave. Trust operates here.
Rio doesn’t really come alive until the night. One big street party. You can’t tell where people spilling out from one bar ends and the next starts. In the Lapa area this is all to the backdrop of propulsive live drumming under the Aqueduto da Carioca (the Carioca Aqueduct) or commonly called Arcos da Lapa (Lapa Arches).
The most amazing street music came when visiting Travessa do Comercio near Rua do Ouvidor . My very own roda de samba. The cobblestones streets were alive with sounds.
So this is how I will remember Rio’s experience as impromptu street music, which surely embodies the freedom of travel.
Next stop Iguazu Falls…