The Human Rights: 10 years of hard hitting live reggae

P1010974-2Ok so back in... geez when was..? Damn... In 2012,  The Human Rights rocked one of our best, most packed and super awesome shows. It was so much fun.Now, six years later, Toronto reggae collective The Human Rights celebrates 10 years of hard hitting live performance with the best of Canada's reggae scene! We can't even believe it. This show is action packed with super special guests: AmmoyeExco Levi, Kultcha Ites, Dubmatix, Tdot Batu, and Maracatu Mar Aberto, among many others. It all goes down on April 7, 2018 at The Redwood, 1300 Gerrard Street in Toronto, which may be a bit east for some west end denizens, but hey there is 24hr streetcar access.BUY TICKETSClassic Track by The Human Rights... Bring the positive vibe.Toronto is fertile ground for reggae music. A large Jamaican and greater Caribbean populace, and all the extended relations, have made island sounds very familiar to the whole Torontonian and Canadian population. Summer in TO, for at least 60 years, has always had Caribbean music at festivals around the city, influencing kids from all walks of immigrant and non-immigrant life. The crossover from soul music to reggae is second nature for many musicians playing the clubs around town. The history of this scene goes deep. David Dacks' piece about the history of reggae in TO  put it best:The history of reggae in Toronto, one of the strongest cities in the world for this genre and its offshoots, can't merely be a rundown of notable bands -- it's bound up in an infrastructure of musicians, venues, promoters and record stores. It's also about the tension of artists trying to succeed in both Canada and in the reggae universe with Jamaica as its axis.It is from this incredible love and influence of reggae music and Jamaican culture in Toronto that The Human Rights came to be. In the spring of 2008 three veterans of the Toronto reggae music scene decided to take a chance and come together with four bright eyed, freshly graduated, music school students to form an original conscious modern-roots-reggae band. Months later they found themselves on stage in front of a sold out Phoenix Concert Hall opening for one of the biggest names in reggae music, Gregory Isaacs!  The spark caught fire and ten years later, The Human Rights are still at the top of their musical game.Check the new singleThe Human Rights specialize in original, high-energy, modern roots reggae with a mix of jazz, funk and R&B influences. The band is fronted by Juno nominee Friendlyness (formerly of Culture Shock & Big Sugar) and Juno nominee Tréson on lead vocals and features a blazing three-piece horn section, two stellar guitar players, and a rock steady riddim section, topped off by legendary reggae keyboardist Bernie Pitters (Toots and the Maytals, Hit Squad, Leroy Brown, Sly & Robbie). A lot of talent in this little project.Since the release of their debut CD 'One Thing' in 2010, The Human Rights have played well over 100 live shows, and released singles for 'Right Now', 'Take A Stance' and 'Old School Track' which spent a record 44 weeks on the listener-voted Rebel Vibez Top Ten Chart. Other highlights include opening for seminal Reggae legends such as John Holt,  Beres Hammond, and Freddie McGreggor recording live for Big City, Small World on CBC Radio One, and a song placement in the Trailer Park Boys movie, 'Don’t Legalize It'. Produced by Big Sugar frontman and Canadian music icon Gordie Johnson, their 2016 self-titled album is The Human Rights’ most ambitious record yet, a powerful statement that the heartbeat of roots Reggae in Canada has never been stronger.So there you have it... The Human Rights, now 10 years old, is proud to host everybody at The Redwood for an emotional, reggae filled celebration of their time spent hustling music and performance in Toronto and Canada. Uma Nota is proud to play a part in this unique, once only production, bringing together various tribes from across the city. Get on that streetcar, take that cab or Uber, call your friends in the East end, call your peeps in Scarborough, bring out all the love for The Human Rights 10 year anniversary. One love. Peace.human_rights_12year_march2018_instagram_2

Doctor Nativo: Cumbia-Reggae Party

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Yes yes we are back... Since we've been digging the cumbia and reggae for years, we thought we'd bring those vibes back and present an artist that embodies both of those styles and just happens to be pulling through Toronto right about now... Doctor Nativo.Direct from Guatemala, Doctor Nativo’s music explores themes of Mayan spirituality, social justice, and folk wisdom. Punctuated by an explosive sound combining reggae, cumbia, hip hop, and Mayan traditional music, his live show is a powerful experience that has captivated audiences all throughout Turtle Island and Europe. Check the video below.Doctor Nativo first made his name in the Guatemalan hip hop scene working with the highly acclaimed group Bacteria Soundsystem Crew. After years of combining reggae and hip hop, he began to explore his indigenous roots under the guidance of the elder Tata Pedro. In pursuing this path, he formed the first Mayan rap group, Balam Ajpu, who are known throughout Mayan communities for rapping in Tz'tujil, celebrating the traditional cosmology, and sharing their culture with a wider audience.Building on this success, Doctor Nativo has recorded his first solo album, Guatemaya, this year. With an infectious sound reminiscent of Manu Chao and Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto, it will appeal to fans of world music and those interested in indigenous culture.Rounding up the line-up will be DJs Juana Gó-Gó and Ontario Bananas with the classic Latin venial and tropical bass, respectively. A small maracatu performance by Toronto's Mar Aberto is also on the bill. Yes... we are crawling out of a slow hibernation to a winter of tropical culture in TO.Come feel the old school flavour... Uma Nota in the area.Nati Waxaqib batz Austria 

Toronto music presenters unite to form Polyphonic Ground

Polyphonic GroundThere's a new initiative to help connect the oodles of culturally diverse music we have here in Toronto with audiences who are "culturally curious" and looking for these kinds of discoveries right here in our city. Uma Nota is proud to be a part of Polyphonic Ground, a freshly formed collaboration between 12 local music presenters who, like us, are "committed to building and sustaining Toronto as a global music city."Here are a few of the key points, as mentioned in the recent press release, and a little bit about how and why we're opting into this initiative.The missionPolyphonic Ground strives to "provide points of connection for artists and audiences, strengthen industry practices and be a united voice to government, business and industry. " This means strength in numbers. It means we'll shout out one another's events from time to time, work together on issues like access to cultural sector resources and grant opportunities, improving conditions around putting on special events like music and arts festivals in Toronto and other key matters that affect all of us as small- to medium-sized presenters.In a recent article in NOW Magazine, our colleague Kayla McGee, who is the managing director of Small World Music and the community lead for Polyphonic Ground, notes that we in Toronto lack any real "infrastructure for live music presenters" and, until now, there haven't been "shared platforms to allow us to work and grow together."

"We want to present live music that draws in the culturally curious," says McGee. "With the double-bill series, we encourage audience curiosity, discovery and an exploration of the amazing array of musical talents available to Toronto audiences. Audiences can experience African and Persian music together in one night, or Latin vibes and Indigenous drums, or Bollywood and Klezmer. The possibilities are endless."

The partnersOur partners in this new collaboration include many familiar local presenters. Some are organizations with whom we've already co-produced shows and events, and others with whom we're looking forward to a closer working relationship.The initial 12 member organizations involved in Polyphonic Ground are: Ashkenaz Foundation, Batuki Music Society, Good Kind Productions, iNative, Link Music Lab, Lula Music & Arts Centre, MonstrARTity Creative Community, Music Africa, Revolutions Per Minute, Small World Music Society and World Fiddle Day Toronto, along with Uma Nota Culture (our official production company name -- yes, it's also our social media handle).The music seriesWe've long been champions of musical discoveries, especially at our events where someone might come to check out their friend drumming away in a Brazilian percussion troupe, and take in a great Afrobeat band or a local DJ who spins rare dub. In that same spirit of discovery, the first Polyphonic Ground concert series kicks off this fall. In this series, two of the partner organizations will be paired up to co-produce a double-bill that aims to introduce audiences to new music from right here in Toronto. These monthly concerts, designed to foster widespread musical discovery in the city, begin on September 14 with Ashkenaz Foundation and Small World Music Society, followed by Batuki Music and Uma Nota presenting on October 12, Link Music Lab and Good Kind Productions present November 9, and Lula Music & Arts and Music Africa co-presenting December 14. These events will take place at Revival Bar, 783 College St., on the second Thursday of the month starting in September. Artists will be announced soon. The growth opportunitiesThis isn't only a new concert series. The initiative also has the goal of increasing "access to training and leadership and bolstering professional development opportunities within the music industry." Here's a bit of what that looks like, for starters: An upcoming Diversity & Live Music panel discussion series; a Developing Diverse Leaders program "with the goal of empowering young talent through mentorship"; and Best Practice Workshops led by music industry experts.The take-awayIn short: This is gonna be awesome.Sign up for the Polyphonic Ground newsletter and follow PG on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter via the website.And stay tuned for our October 12 show announcement with Batuki Music Society as part of the initial concert series. (Update Sept. 25: lineup and tickets here; new post coming up)Video: Maracatu Mar Aberto and special guests perform on the Small World Music stage in a "Brazilian Grooves" concert co-produced by Uma Nota Culture and the Small World Music Society as part of in/future, a transformational art experience that took place on the West Island of Ontario Place in September 2016.

Domingão do Samba! (Big Sunday Samba!)

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Music.Friends.Food.Dance.Drink

Once again, in the tradition of cultural fairs and Block Party, we present Domingão do Samba (Big Samba Sunday) an afternoon to evening event specially made into a Quadra de Samba, or Samba School rehearsal hall in Rio de Janeiro. Everybody is welcome. Bring the family, chill out, dance, play and hang while the Roda de Samba plays, or go wild as the Batucada plays the big stage!

There will be Brazilian feijoada and tapioca stands, an arts and food marketplace, children’s activities and games including face painting and mini ping pong. There will be incredible music from Rio's rich samba traditions:

Batucada Carioca with special guests (Bateria led by Maninho Costa)

Roda de Samba (Brazilian roots samba)

DJ General Eclectic (MPB, samba soul, samba-rock)

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Batucada Carioca (led by Maninho Costa) 7:30 pmBatucada Carioca is Toronto’s premiere Rio-style samba troupe. Led by Rio native sambista Maninho Costa ("Maninho z10"), Batucada has a raw uplifting style. After a spectacular 10th anniversary show last fall on the Great Hall stage, this time out the samba party includes a beefed-up bateria (samba drums) to give an extra-heavy swing on a selection of classic samba-enredos and other beloved sambas to guarantee a great time for all and singalongs for Brazilians and samba addicts alike. The show features Carlinhos Pernambuco on cavaco and Wagner Petrilli on seven-string guitar along with more special guest performers soon TBA, including Aline Morales among them.Roda de Samba (Brazilian roots samba) 4:00pmA ‘roda de samba’ or circle of samba, is a a gathering of friends who play and sing classic samba tunes with smaller instrumentation (as opposed to the baterias of big samba schools). In Brazil, a roda de samba can take place on market days or at bars with people gathering around a table of seated musicians eating, dancing, rejoicing and often singing along in chorus. In Toronto, Carlos Pernambuco has been at the forefront of this movement, with his infectious voice and cavaquinho leading the songs. The Roda de Samba will happen in the afternoon while the feijoada is being served and other activities happen around the venue.Uma_Nota_Fest_54DJ General Eclectic. Our resident and co-founder General Eclectic is up on the Ones and Twos. His record collection runs deep and his musical knowledge is beyond vast. As his name implies, his tastes are ‘eclectic’ and he can bring out ska/reggae, soul/funk, afrobeat/jazz, cumbia and the Brazilian rhythms, with a longtime love and knowledge of MPB and samba soul references. He will be bringing out great tunes for your dancing feet.

Plus:

Kids activities! Samba dancers to help you learn your movesFace painting by skinfulARTMini Pong for all by VanGreyArtist Market

Food:Tapioca stand by Tapioca GourmetFeijoada DelightAçaí and Salgadinhos Chocolate, Choco Drink & Coffee by ChocoSol

The Great Hall, 1087 Queen St. WestDoors 2 p.m.Schedule & Set times TBA$10 at the door (from 2 to 6 p.m.), $15 after 6 p.m.

Co-presented with Batucada Carioca 

Facebook event page 

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The Live Element: Bands at Uma Nota Fest

cover pics bands copyHere is the rundown of the Live acts featured at this year's Uma Nota Fest (#UmaNotaFest for the social media savvy). Lots of talent and creativity in the mix to move your body and stimulate the pleasure zones of the mind.The Human RightsUma Nota alumni The Human Rights (formally Friendlyness & The Human Rights) have spent 6 years honing their unique style of uplifting and ultra-heavy reggae music. The ten-piece band has recruited Toronto soul man Tréson and have re-united as The Human Rights. Tréson brings a whole new level and dynamic to the band, his powerful voice the perfect compliment to Friendlyness' style. After two Canadian tours, CBC recording sessions, opening slots for reggae legends Gregory Isaacs, John Holt and Beres Hammond, and a feature in the new Trailer Park Boys movie, The Human Rights are gearing up to release their 2nd LP and are touring in support of their latest single "Old School Track." On Oct 17th at the El Mocambo they bring us back that old school feeling. (FB event)

Heavy Soundz (Montreal)

Heavy Soundz come to us from Montreal and embody the alter-Latino scene there. Solidly anchored in a merry multicultural melange, the members of Montreal collective Heavy Soundz kick it with crazy rhythms that get any party started. What do these 5 musicians and 5 MCs from Québec, Haïti and Latin America have in store for us? A caliente whirlwind of Latin urban music spiced with reggae, cumbia and hip hop, as heard on their latest album, “Tumba Parlantes”, a sound that gets everyone in the room moving, grooving and sweating … We are pleased to welcome Heavy Soundz to the El Mocambo  On Oct 17th. (FB event)Flavia Nascimento and BandFlavia won hearts and fans in Toronto with her whimsically romantic forró during last year’s Uma Nota Festival. She is now proud to launch her self titled EP in Toronto. Recorded in Brazil over the winter (Brazil summer) of 2014, the CD is a mixture of original compositions and original takes of some classics from her homeland. The distinct regional style of her native state Minas Gerais is heard as some songs harken the congados (African processions from Minas) and a distinct, almost Milton Nascimento vibe in her arrangements. Her live performance is warm and festive, with a touch of romance. Flavia is the most enchanting start to our festivals. Flavia plays the festival launch at Touché Lounge on Oct 16th at 9pm. (FB event)

Wagner Petrilli  

Brazilian guitarist and composer Wagner Petrilli, originally from São Paulo, is one of Toronto’s most prominent Brazilian musicians. Wagner plays the very best MPB or musica popular brasileira, which is a very Brazilian way of saying the work is made with influences from the entire spectrum of Brazilian national music, including samba, choro, afro-derived forms and classical music. His recently released CD Confissão (“confession”) received critical acclaim and his cd launch at Lula Lounge was a memorable evening for all there. Expect a lively and powerful show from a great band. Wagner plays at 6pm at The Great Hall. (FB event)

Wagner Petrilli [soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/158141444" params="color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

Batucada Carioca (led by Maninho Costa)

Batucada Carioca is Toronto’s premiere Rio-style samba troupe. Led by Rio native sambista Maninho Costa (Maninho z10) Batucada has a raw uplifting style. For their 10th anniversary Maninho has prepared a special set of all new material, and beyond the regular bateria (samba drums) the show features Carlinhos Pernambuco on cavaco, Wagner Petrilli on 7-string guitar and Christopher Butcher on trombone, with special guests performances by Tio Chorinho and Louis Simao. Batucada Carioca plays at 7:30 at the Great Hall on Oct 19th. (FB Event)This one is an oldy, not high def footage, but it shows Batucada Carioca in 2009, so it has wicked historical value and you can see see Maninho killing it.

Roda de Samba (Brazilian roots samba) 3pm

A ‘roda de samba’ or circle of samba, is a a gathering of friends who play and sing classic samba tunes with smaller instrumentation (as opposed to the baterias of big samba schools). In Brazil a roda de samba can take place on market days or at bars with people gathering around a table of seated musicians, and eating, dancing, rejoicing and often singing along in chorus. In Toronto, Carlos Pernambuco is at the forefront of this movement, with his infectious voice and cavaquinho leading the songs. The roda (circle) will happen in the afternoon while the feijoada is being served and other activities happen around the venue. Roda de Samba will play throughout the day starting at 3pm at The Great Hall. (FB event).An example of roda de samba in Brazil:

Andrew Lamb Is Watching Your Neighbourhood, Toronto

Our Toronto street art correspondent Missy Cohen talks to the artist behind a city-wide wheatpaste campaign.Neighbourhood Watch is a Toronto street art project that shares pure joy with the residents of this city.Wheatpasting over old "This Community Protected" Neighbourhood Watch street signs with superheroes and supervillains of pop culture  [mostly from the '80s and '90s, with some '60s and '70s classics like the original Star Trek and Mighty Mouse in the mix], the artist is providing great big smiles to anyone who finds these signs.Neighbourhood WatchArtist Andrew Lamb (@dcmism on Instagram) answered my burning questions about his art.

Missy Cohen: You've mentioned you had a goal of posting 100 signs by the end of summer.  Did you reach this goal?

Andrew Lamb: I did not reach the goal of 100 signs, but I have extended the deadline till first snow fall.MC: I've come across a repeat of Robo Cop. Are there any other duplicates?

AL: There were three Robo Cops, two Axel Foleys (one went missing) and two of the cast from The Wire. I ended up putting Voltron over one of them.

MC: Which are your top three neighbourhood protectors?  I’ll go first: She-Ra, Batman and Robin, and Bill Cosby.

AL: My top three are Sigourney Weaver's Ripley, Agent Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

MC: Awesome!(Image: @fullblownrose on Instagram)

5 Graffiti Artists in Toronto

We're going to start a new series of blog posts about visual art and most specifically street art in Toronto.Here we go with our initial blog post by Missy Cohen!

Anser (@ansermysteriousdate on Instagram)

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Who is Anser? A mysterious night painter with serious fine art skill. These one-stroke faces can be found all over Toronto, and now in New York City.

Birdo DMC (@jerryrugg)

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Birdo, or Birdo DMC, paints animals with various textures -- always colourful and always big.

Uber5000 (@uber5000)

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Uber5000 is famous for his bright yellow chickens. Happy and upbeat, any Uber5000 graffiti piece will uplift your day.

Shalakattack (@shalakattack)

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Shalakattack is based out of Canada, Brazil and Chile. Her murals include animals and portraits. She oftens collaborates with BrunoSmoky (@brunosmoky) and call themselves Clandestinos. [Ed.: Check out a previous post we did on their Essencia Collective.]

Jimmy Chiale (@jchiale)

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Jimmy Chiale is a mastermind with colour. He prefers his art to be called street art as opposed to graffiti. He was born in Paris, France and now lives in Parkdale.

The Human Rights Switch It Back

 HRcasbah1The Human Rights have made some changes. They have added singer Tréson to the crew . The talented artist’s powerful voice fits perfectly with  the band’s uplifting sound, a heavy but unique style of expertly executed new roots reggae. With two singers in the band, they have re-booted under the banner The Human Rights, opting to simplify and forgoing Friendlyness' name as part of the band title. Have no fear though, Friendly's style, wit, performance and musical charm remain. And rejoice! Marking the bands transition into their new format, formation, they have released a new single Old School Track.Full of Toronto references and nods to the golden era of reggae, The Old School Track is an original tune by the Human Rights. Check out the whe do dem, eek a mouse, bass-line breakdown.But just who are these Human Rights?

The history of the Human Rights runs deep. It begins with Toronto reggae foundation keyboardist Bernie Pitters, who learned how to bubble from Bob Marley's keyboard player in Jamaica and spent the ‘80s and ‘90s touring with Toots and the Maytals. It continues with Toronto reggae heavyweight and juno nominated Friendlyness, who started out fronting bands such as Revelation and Culture Shock, followed by backing up Frankie Paul, Freddie McGreggor & Dennis Brown with Hit Squad, and more recently joining the ranks of Can-rock icons Big Sugar. Add seven young up-and-coming Toronto session musicians and the soulful vocal stylings of Tréson and you have a musical force ready for the global stage.

The Human Rights play Summer in the City on Saturday May 31st at the Silver Dollar in Toronto. $10 Facebook eventsmic

Quique Escamilla's 500 Years of Night

qiqueWhat is it about this guy Quique Escamilla? Quirky? lovable? romantic? Yeah, he's got sweet tunes that can bring you the full moon by the water. He is also bad ass, and the music is coupled with themes of resistance and consciousness. His new record, 500 Years of Night, smacks us in the face with truths about the Americas and their "discovery" by the conquistadores from imperial Europe.His musical style, brought to you via his Chiapas homeland, the Estados Unidos de Mexico, and his Toronto home, with the whole modern world as influence, is those 500 years of history. By fusing traditional Mexican musical styles such as ranchera and huapango with other Latin American rhythms, as well as rock and reggae, Quique creates his own unique 'Music of the Americas'. These poly-rhythmic designs serve as a vehicle for Quique's incisive and passionate lyrics that touch on issues like indigenous rights and sustainability while tackling every form of oppression.In Toronto, where so called 'world' musicians (I hate that term) are for the world crowd and 'indie' musicians are for the indie crowd, Quique is the guy that builds and crosses those bridges. Check out the video his friends made for his CD release below... Damn, Quique got viral marketing styles!  Also my favourite song off the album is here.

The hidden gem of Brazilian music: Wagner Petrilli

 WagnerWagner Petrilli is one of Toronto's most prominent Brazilian musicians. While Wagner has been a cornerstone of the Brazilian music scene since his arrival in 1998, playing and collaborating alongside the city's prominent jazz artists as well as notable Brazilian musicians, he had yet to manifest himself as the father of his own project -- until now.Wagner is in the final stages of a CD project that brings together and advances all of his composition talents. I would describe the songs I've heard as the very best MPB or musica popular brasileira, which is a very Brazilian way of saying the work is made with influences from the entire spectrum of Brazilian national music, including samba, choro, afro-derived forms and classical music. (World-class Toronto collaborators from Toronto and around Brazil play on the recordings, several of whom were part of the slamming band for Pedro Quental's Canadian tour this past summer; Wagner also recorded the Rio singer for the disc, along with too many notables to mention, but Henrique Cazes who also visited Toronto is in there.)The songs have already been recorded, and now the mixing and mastering are needed to finish the CD.  Wagner has launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds. We are putting out an all points bulletin that more pledges are needed. Get the lowdown in this video.

Heavyweights won't bring you down.

brasstronomicalHeavyweights Brass Band are part of the Uma Nota community. Christopher Butcher, the trombonist and main activist behind the band, is a former housemate, a friend, and one sexy guy. Anyways... so their new CD Brasstronomical is pretty dope and the release is going to be killer. Check the details below.Book it!This country’s greatest purveyors of feel-good horn music burst onto the Canadian jazz scene with their energetic brass band covers of contemporary pop hits. Now with Brasstronomical, the Heavyweights are offering a unique sound with emphasis on their original compositions. They delve deeper and more eclectically into each musical direction implied on their first album. Brasstronomical reveals the band’s music is stronger, bolder, funkier and more mature than ever before.Here is their new CD streaming this week only!Not only all of the above but for the show check their special guests: Jane Bunnett, Toronto jazz performer and composer extraordinaire, Jay Douglas, Jamaican-born soul singer, Luis Obregoso, Latin percussionist of the most amazing kind, and the great DJ General Eclectic! and to top it off STreet Brass, the Uma Nota produced band that plays street carnival music from across the Americas, will be opening up (this will be fun).Check their EPK video release below Street Brass Uma Nota Community

Lettuce in TO

1463017_10151992394938213_1507197967_nDig.... there is only one show for the live music lover on Saturday February 22."From Montreal, Ottawa and Kingston to Hamilton, London and Windsor and all points in between, music lovers are gearing up to descend on Toronto for one of most exciting funk music concerts in years. On Saturday, February 22nd at the Phoenix Concert Theatre, the Nujazz Festival and Music & Politics are honoured to present the Canadian debut of legendary Brooklyn-based funk monarchs LETTUCE. This show is the culmination of a promotional dream that Sebastian Cook has been pursuing for eight years, and is shaping up to be nothing less than historic based on advance sales and community buzz. The Toronto concert is the finale of Lettuce’s 20-show 2013/14 Winter Tour.LettuceJazz-funk music connoisseurs in Toronto are already very familiar with two of Lettuce’s core members Eric Krasno (guitar) and Neal Evans (keyboards & Hammond B3) from their recent Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival shows with Soulive, the world-renowned trio who’ve opened for the likes of The Dave Matthews Band and The Rolling Stones. Joining Lettuce on the Phoenix’s famous stage are two of Toronto’s top funk bands KC Roberts & The Live Revolution and After Funk. On the wheels of steel is future-funk tastemaker DJ Sean Sax." from facebook event for Lettuce.Don't miss this show.

Uma Nota Festival 2014

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The 4th Annual Uma Nota Festival of Tropical Expressions is here! Four days of music, dance food and culture for your senses. Check out our programming, save the dates and see you on the dance floor. We have a festival pass once again this year and it gives you access to all our events (excluding Terra Brasil), a line by-pass and lotsa love from the Uma Nota team.Buy Festival Pass! #UmaNotaFest 

Festival Launch - #UmaNotaFest Thursday

umanota_festival2014_facebook_thursday_1000pixels Uma Nota Festival 2014 and the Brazilian Film Festival of Toronto (Brafftv) kick off an extended weekend with Flavia Nascimento and Band, live MPB (Musica Popular Brasileira) sprinkled with forró and topped off with fine Brazilian selections. Free! (FB event)

Dance Migration presents Terra Brasil - #UmaNotaFest

umanota_festival2014_facebook_friday_1000pixels Afro-Brazilian dance company The Dance Migration perform Terra Brasil, a captivating theatrical dance piece performed to live music by local and visiting Brazilian aces. Tickets Available. (FB event)

Friday Night Jamboree - #UmaNotaFest Friday

umanota_festival2014_facebook_friday2_1000pixels Our Friday Night Jamboree is live goodness & incredible djs. An international crew bring you the tropical sounds from an international world to the El Mocambo in one of the last shows you may ever see at this legendary Toronto venue. Come see live reggae, Latin urban beats and sounds from the global underground. The very best for you, in our city, live. (FB event)Buy Tickets Friday Night Jamboree

Digital Tropics - #UmaNotaFest Saturday

umanota_festival2014_facebook_saturday_1000pixels_2 (1)Sweaty sounds from the transglobal underground. This year we’re going one step further by joined forces  with the X Avant Festival for a transcultural party at Remix Lounge featuring New York’s DJ Ushka in her Canadian debut alongside the infamous Poirier from Montreal. Expect digital ecstasy and a few surprises. (FB event)Buy Tickets Digital Tropics

Batucada Carioca 10-year anniversary party  - #UmaNotaFest Community Cultural Fair

umanota_festival2014_facebook_sunday_1000pixels In the Uma Nota tradition of cultural fairs and Block Party, we present Batucada Carioca’s 10 year anniversary party and an afternoon to evening event specially made into a Quadra de Samba, or a Samba School rehearsal hall in Rio de Janeiro. There will be Brazilian feijoada and tapioca stands, an arts and food marketplace, children’s activities and games including face painting and mini ping pong. There will be incredible music rooted in the samba traditions. (Facebook event)Buy Tickets Batucada Carioca 10 year party & Cultural Fair

Check the video of last year's Uma Nota Festival!

  

Friendly's Summer in the City

Look out, look out! Here comes a union of community and easy living on a May-time summer night ...Summer in the City takes us back to an old-style Canadian historical tavern with a nefarious reputation (and nefarious hygiene standards): the Silver Dollar Room. Be ready for heavy rhythms and cartoon-like characters who are into fun and better living.Featuring: Friendlyness (also called Friendly) and the Human Rights, Mar Aberto SoundSystem, and The Responsables as well as DJ Firecracker (who created the sunshine-loving poster below).Many will remember that Friendlyness and Mar Aberto SoundSystem as the live acts in the stellar line-up that killed it at an Uma Nota reggae party in 2012.Friendlyness and his crew are gearing up for summer shows and tours, and Mar Aberto SoundSystem has swung back into things with a recent show at the Empty Fest in Sarnia, alongside Maylee Todd and other acts.Celebrate the return of the heat with a night of hot reggae music, delicious food and good vibes! Keep up with things on the Facebook event and we will see you there.Poster by Angela Vargas (DJ Firecracker)

Samba in Toronto: O Encontro de Baterias

Toronto's samba bateria (drum corps) history dates back about 20 years. It's said the first samba drumming performance group evolved by way of a desire from within the Brazilian community to represent during the city's summer festivities. Many of the original players from the first project in the early '90s, Viva Brazil, remain active in samba groups in the city today.Throughout the early 2000s a few new baterias formed, and for about the last 10 years, four different groups in the city have co-existed as Toronto's interpreters and representatives of the Brazilian samba bateria tradition.This past April 7, the four groups came together to play as one bateria in a historic encontro, or meeting.Chocalhos and agogôs (shakers and bells) near the front of the formation at the Encontro de BateriasNegin Bahrami on surdo de terceira and cuíca at the April 7, 2013 Encontro de Baterias (Photos: Dave Burke (left); Avital Zemer (right)The event was instigated by Negin Bahrami of Batucada Carioca, who was inspired by a bateria encontro between various samba schools in Rio.(Video below: TV news item in Portuguese)Bahrami -- who has traveled to Rio several times and has paraded in a top-level samba school bateria and with several samba blocos --  explains what inspired her to initiate the Encontro:

                   "The reason behind the event was to give people here who have never been to Rio a chance to experience a taste of what it feels like to be a part of a large bateria rehearsal the way it's done there  -- generally between 150 - 300 players rehearsing one song [the school's Carnaval anthem] for the parade that year.

                  "In Rio, the samba schools and mestres are all friends (not rivals) and they invite each other to their quadras [rehearsal halls] as guest to perform. It is very common for players to play in more than one group and get together. It is a massive samba community and the only time they are in competition is when they parade through the Sambódromo (and even then it is in friendly competition).

                   "Samba is a passion there; it is community and unity. This is what I wanted to promote in Toronto, and by uniting the four groups, everyone was able to experience that vibe and energy that gives you goosebumps, with the heavy and powerful sound of a bateria made up of 100+ players."

After much gestation, the idea took flight with an initial meeting in fall 2012 between the four directors and some other key players. (Jon Medow, who is my co-director for Samba Elégua on this project, says it all reminded him of a mafia meeting -- a clandestine coming together of Toronto's samba bateria bosses!).The group leaders show off the four t-shirts of the four Toronto samba bateria groupsThe group leaders together at the EncontroThe agreement was struck: They would participate in an Encontro de Baterias, the leaders agreeing to create a musical project everyone could work on to prepare something for all the groups to play together.The four samba bateria groups of Toronto that participated in the event and came all together for the first time are:Escola de Samba de Toronto (a.k.a. Toronto Samba School or TSS)Led by Alan Hetherington, the city's bateria pioneer who started things up for that first group, the "Escola" was the first Toronto outfit organized instruction in the samba bateria style. Many of Toronto's samba heads have participated, and the classes are offered through the Royal Conservatory of Music, where Hetherington also teaches other styles of samba percussion. Under his direction, the group has traveled to Brazil several times, and as an ensemble have performed, studied and recorded with professional Brazilian artists. The group mostly sticks to the samba-enredo and bateria styles, which Hetherington teaches with encyclopaedic knowledge and years of technique. They play some other Brazilian rhythms as well, and in fact have performed complex arrangements and time signatures, but for the most part this Escola de Samba keeps the rhythms traditional.Samba Squad As we have mentioned, Samba Squad are not samba purists. Founded and led by percussionist and teacher Rick Lazar, another old-schooler, Samba Squad is a powerhouse of diverse rhythms and perhaps the group that most represents Toronto's cultural diversity in its repertoire of rhythms. Samba Squad's projects are wide-ranging, from elaborately arranged recordings and stage shows like their recent CD release party (and turns performing with Jesse Cook) to an entire youth arts and music non-profit wing; Drum Artz studio, the org's home base, hosted the Encontro, and Samba Kidz, the youth performing/workshop group, incorporates entire steel pan racks into arrangements for samba, soca and more. Samba Squad has taught and nurtured many local players and samba addicts as well, and to the general populace of Toronto is one of the most visible samba baterias around. For more, read our recent article about Samba Squad and their latest album.Batucada CariocaThis group came onto the scene around 2003, a few years after Hetherington, while visiting Brazil, met Maninho Costa through samba school rehearsals. A native of the Ilha do Governador (Governor's Island) area of Rio de Janeiro, Costa has played in baterias since the age of seven -- his uncle, Odilon Costa, is one of Brazil's most respected bateria masters -- starting in the kids' baterias and moving to the elite levels as a teenager. Following an invitation from Hetherington, Costa visited Toronto in 2000 and 2001 as a performer for the annual Brazilian Ball fundraiser; after the 2001 event, he stayed, later starting his own project. Batucada Carioca began as a smaller group in 2003, and in 2004 grew into a larger bateria; the band plays samba music with an emphasis on the heavy percussive swing of the Rio bateria tradition, performing famous Carnaval anthems along with popular Brazilian tunes and a few other grooves. Check out more about Maninho Costa and Batucada Carioca in our previous article here.Samba EléguaPerhaps the most community-oriented samba project of the bunch, Samba Elégua was founded in 2001 as a free-to-join music group by Itay Keshet, then a student at University of Toronto (who directed the project's first five years or so), and to this day it has managed to survive without anyone paying for classes or rehearsals as a kind of volunteer-based samba percussion collective. Of the four groups, it is the one whose leadership and repertoire have likely changed the most over the course of its history (more than 10 individuals including Jon Medow, David ArcusRaphi Roter and myself have led the group in performance). Like Samba Squad,  Samba Elégua plays both Brazilian grooves and a number of fusion rhythms that represent the sounds of multicultural Toronto. In recent years, the group has reworked and developed a stronger bateria samba groove along with other expanded repertoire pieces. We posted about Samba Elégua's sound in a video-based blog entry here.Tamborims (small frame drums that deliver a high cracking sound essential to the feel of samba, played in a specific turning style) -- this section has the most complex arrangement, including for this first Encontro projectWith participation confirmed from the four groups, the "samba mafia bosses" agreed to try a samba-enredo arrangement for the Encontro, one that all groups could learn ahead of time.Eventually the tune was chosen: Araxá (full title: Araxá - Lugar Alto Onde Primeiro Se Avista o Sol), which was the Carnaval anthem performed in 1999 by Rio samba school Beija-Flor de Nilópolis.Once videos of the arrangement were posted online and made available to all, the groups had a few months to practice.Allow me to speak from my experience: for Samba Elégua at least it was the first time many players had performed samba in this format, the way it is in Rio and São Paulo's samba schools -- not just a samba groove, but everything fitting around a song. We spent months encouraging players to review the videos as posted for each instrument, and rehearsed the whole thing several times; this even meant incorporating amplified singing in Portuguese along with the rhythm, which was also a new experience for many group members.Maninho Costa calling a bossa (percussion break)Finally the erratic spring weather seemed to clear a little for the big Sunday, and by the time everyone was assembled in the Drum Artz studio, we had more than 100 players, making it the largest samba bateria ever in Canada. (We are pretty sure! Did anyone call Guinness?)Among the many drummers, several of the original Viva Brazil players were on hand for the big day, including Rick Lazar, Alan Hetherington, and musicians and members of Samba Squad, Batucada Carioca and a range of other projects like Tony Pierre, Trevor Yearwood, Lyba Spring, Janet McClelland and Gord Sheard.Negin Bahrami lays down a beat on the surdo along with guest musicians, from left: Avital Zemer (seven-string guitar), Carlos Cardozo (cavaquinho) and Wagner Petrilli (guitar). The day involved warming up the bateria, playing the arrangement's breaks, and then getting into the song with guest musicians Carlos Cardozo on cavaquinho and Wagner Petrilli on guitar, plus another guitarist, Avital Zemer, who also photographed part of the event. Maninho Costa was the day's interprete or samba vocalist.Alan Hetheringto calls the bossa (break) for the bateria while Maninho Costa sings.After organizing the bateria into a formation, the leaders directed a successful run-through for over an hour or so, each section of instruments playing its parts of the arrangement, and everyone playing the arrangement's bossa or break together through several repetitions of the song (I would guess around 20-25 times).Samba group leaders from Toronto baterias, from left: Jon Medow, Alan Hetherington, Maninho Costa, Rick Lazar (Photo: Avital Zemer)Things then moved to call and response breaks with the leaders of the groups calling on repeniques (the high-pitched drum played in the bateria style with one hand and one stick, which takes on the role of calling the bateria into the groove and hitting the loud call notes for the bateria to respond).Rick Lazar of Samba Squad leading during the closing procession at the Encontro de Baterias (Photo: Avital Zemer)The afternoon was nearly over, but it wouldn't have been complete without a parade, so everyone marched outside with their instruments and made a loud block party to finish the Encontro in true Brazilian samba bateria style.Happy samba drummers! (Photo: Dave Burke)All in all it was a greatly successful event: Happy people with a new collective experience, new friends made and a samba bateria community that wants to make it happen again.This first Encontro was a hit for sure, and with everyone asking when the next one is, we say: Summer is coming, anything is possible and it seems it may only be a matter of time before the next Encontro de Baterias.All photos used with permission of photographers: Dave Burke and Avital Zemer

Brazilian Shorts @ AluCine Latin Film + Media Arts Festival

alucine_festival_cataloguecover_forweb_640x300_2AluCine  Latin Film & Media Arts Festival is beyond just what its title suggests. Although its origins are in experimental short films, these days it is a lot more. They present short and often experimental films from around the world and also showcase artistic performances and talks about culture.  Best of all,  this year AluCine has invited us to to present a series of Afro-Brazilian documentary shorts that will be featured on March 30 at 2:30 p.m. at Jackman Hall, in the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). The description and media photos of the films are below.

A sister organization, AluCine has been active for almost 20 years. Over the years we have been involved in many a party together, whether just our common peoples dancing up a storm at the Gladstone, or Uma Nota and Dos Mundos presenting their closing party in 2011. Last Saturday our own General Eclectic, alongside Bavia Arts' Luciano Porto, spoke about West African influence in Brazilian & Latin music. In line with that theme, Newton Moraes presented an Afro-Brazilian dance class & performance at Bavia Arts Centre on Sunday. Check the programming for the whole festival here. You can like AluCine's Facebook page for current updates.

The program we are presenting was curated by Moira Toledo, the curator for the International Short Film Festival in São Paulo. She and her assistants Bruno Rezende and Tereza Temer are scheduled to be in Toronto for the screening.The curatorial statement by Moira Toledo:"This rich program made by Afro-Brazilian filmmakers is simultaneously a testament to the creative potential of the Afro population of Brazil and to the forces that deny their realization. Inevitably, all the films we have selected highlight racism (both explicit and active) intolerance, and latent issues such as the prejudicial and homogeneous nature of mainstream beauty standards in Brazil."

Defina-Se / 2002 / Brazil
Defina-Se is an audiovisual manifesto on the trajectory of the black population in Brazil from the senzala or “slave quarters” to the outskirts of the country’s major metropolises. 
Defina-se2
Eu Tenho a Palavra / 2010 / Brazil
The "language of the Black Coast" is a dialect that was created on plantations in Brazil by enslaved Africans. Incredibly, the language is still spoken today in Minas Gerais, Brazil, having been passed through many generations. 
Eu tenho a palavra 1

 Zumbi Somos Nós / 2007 / Brazil

Proposing new ways of looking, thinking and acting, Zumbi Somos Nós attempts to generate a reflection on racial issues in contemporary Brazilian society, proposing new artistic strategies to address these issues. 
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AluCine is killing it in 2013!

Carnaval da comunidade brasileira em TO!

This translates to "Carnival of the (Brazilian) community in Toronto."Where, pray tell, does the great majority of the Toronto Brazil community congregate for fun and frolic at carnival time? Usually at an event organized by Angela Mesquita and Luiz de Castro. Their shows are big -- extravagant, fun, packed with entertainment and colour -- and are a major current of the Brazilian community in Toronto, uniting all segments from across the GTA.A little context: Our Uma Nota events have a very strong Brazilian musical influence (as well as Caribbean, Latin, American Funk, Afrobeat etc.) and our public is very much that of the multi-cultural Toronto -- lots of fun and  very diverse. And, of course, a great deal of our public is Brazilian.Beyond loving the music and creativity, Brazilians bring a certain liberty of self-expression. Now imagine a whole event with 90% Brazilians. That is a whole lot of fun. If you want to be with Brazilians dancing, socializing and having a good time to warm up your winter, do not miss this year's Carnaval event. Every year the theme for the party is from a different carnaval hotspot in Brazil. Recent years have featured Pernambuco, Amazonas and Bahia, and this year the spotlight turns to the cidade marvilhosa (marvelous city), Rio de Janeiro. The night features live music from Uma Nota favourite samba group Batucada Carioca, and new-ish roots samba group Tem Gringo na Roda, as well as Bracatum featuring songstress Cibele Iglesias.Check out some pictures from previous years in this collage.The Carnaval Brasil 2013 event this weekend is multi-generational, genuine, and like we said: fun. The party starts at 7 p.m. and goes till the bar closes and people stop dancing. You might read the event info and think "OMG! It's in Vaughan!" Well, do not panic. There is free transportation. Yes, free transportation.Here is a vid from last year so you can get an idea.Angela Mesquita, one of the event's producers, is the owner operator of Brazil Remittance, a remittance company on Dundas Street West. A successful business woman, she is also a pillar in the Toronto Brazil community, offering her support to a myriad of events and helping many people out as they adjust to cold Canada. She produces events for  community charities, for New Year's Eve and for Carnaval. Brazil Remittance also offered community assistance to the Uma Nota Festival in our inaugural year (2011).Como sempre ... as always ... "Carnaval da Angela" is a can't-miss festa brasileira and cultural spectacle.

Uma Nota Festival Review!

Well, after a brief  hiatus on the website content tip ... we are back! We needed a little break before we rev up for a bold new year of cultural production.The Uma Nota Festival 2012 was a big success. The second year saw some major growth in outlook and perspective of the festival. We can say that we took a foray into a bigger scale with our "World Funk" flagship event at Great Hall, featuring three bands! Asiko Afrobeat Ensemble, Mar Aberto SoundSystem, and Sound One all tore it up on the stage and got the dance floor shaking. DJs General Eclectic and Dos Mundos kept the beats moving through the night.This year saw a partnership between the Brazilian Film Festival and Uma Nota Culture. We presented several films at the Royal Cinema. At Revival Bar Sunday night, we presented our festival closing act, direct from Rio de Janeiro, Pedro Luís, fresh with a new album. Our Sunday daytime Community Cultural Fair at the Supermarket in Kensington was a grand success with several workshops, performances and many families enjoying great food and caipirinhas! The friendly crowd was treated to performances by Ruben Esguerra's A New Tradition, Jô Lutério and her roda de samba crew, and Maria Bonita and the Band.We'd like to thank all the festival volunteers, the incredibly talented artists that were featured at the festival and the amazing people who come out to Uma Nota and participate with no pretensions and with eyes, ears and dancing shoes towards a fun time! And ... of course we'd like to thank the sponsors, without whom as the saying goes, there would be no festival! Thanks go to Pitú, ChocoSol, Hansa Language Center and Mellohawk Logistics.Check out some of our pictures.UPDATE: New post: Watch videos from the World Funk flagship event at Great Hall! (Photo: Negin Bahrami)

Pedro Luís in T.O. (Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012)

It is not everyday that an artist like Pedro Luís, an icon of the Rio de Janeiro scene, comes to Toronto. On Sunday night Pedro Luís plays Revival, presented by Brazil Film Fest together with our Uma Nota Festival. This show, a different take on the Carioca sound, promises to be outstanding, as Pedro drops tracks from his new CD as well as the best songs from his career. The new CD, Tempo de Menino, is a testament to the present vibe of modern Rio and modern Brazil. The style is not bound by beach anthems and carnival, but rather on poetry, artistry and fine musicianship.Most famous for his work as Pedro Luís with A Parede, Pedro's career is notable. His compositions can be heard in the voices of great names of Brazilian music: Ney Matogrosso, Elba Ramalho, O Rappa, Cidade Negra, Adriana Calcanhoto, Fernanda Abreu, and Roberta Sá. His hand in the forming of the group Monobloco made him a mainstay of the alternative Carioca Carnival. In 2009, Pedro Luís, ever the artist, released his first book: Logo Parecia Que Assim Sempre Fora,  inspired by the album Olho de Peixe by Lenine and Marcos Suzano. The reflections of this book and Lenine can be felt in his new CD.Tempo de Menino is produced by the duo miniStereo, a.k.a. Rodrigo Campello et Jr. Tolstoi, both of whom had a musical hand in the production of Lenine's masterful CDs. The song Menina do Salão de Beleza (written with Beto and Rodrigo Valente Cabelo), debuted in June on the soundtrack of the hit Brazilian primetime soap opera Avenida Brasil. There are also features collaborations with Milton Nascimento, Erasmo Carlos, Roberta Sá and many more. The sound of the album is fantastic, with multiple textures and a depth in the musical voyage produced only by the best studios.Pedro has promised an equally thrilling live performance, performing the songs of various genres and rhythms that make up his solo album as well as hits from his successful career, including classics from Pedro Luís e A Parede. Special guests on the stage in at Revival will be Luanda Jones, and old friend from Pedro's Monobloco days, Maninho Costa of Batucada Carioca.Not only all this but Pedro is also super nice guy. Joyous & joking on the skype call I had with him, he was very gracious at the fact that I had listened to the CD and could comment on it. He is very happy to be coming to Toronto to present "um belo espetáculo" (a beautiful show). We are proud to present one of the most influencial and cool musicians from Brazil. Below are some vids from his past and present projects.

Pedro shouting out Toronto:

A classic tune with Pedro's wife, singer Roberta Sá:A little bit of his show:Title track off the CD, played solo:Pedro Luís performs at Revival on Sunday, October 21, as part of the Brazil Film Fest and Uma Nota Festival of Tropical Expressions. More info here.

The Start of A New Tradition

 

For as long as I’ve know him, Ruben "Beny" Esguerra has been working tirelessly to complete a musical project that is the result of many years of studying, researching and performing Colombian traditional music, spoken word and hip-hop music.Last December, while in Cartagena, Colombia, Beny’s producer and collaborator Luis Orbegozo handed me a CDR entitled  A New Tradition. I listened to it on my flight home and was totally immersed in a world of tambores and poetry. I picked out elements of the album that I had heard Beny perform in Cuba and in Toronto many years prior, and I realized this whole album was a labour of love that Beny had been working on since I met him.

On A New Tradition, tambores and gaitas meet DJ scratches and beatboxes, the past and the present collide on the dancefloor creating perfect harmony between traditional and modern. A salsa will blend with dancehall, a cumbia rhythm becomes a break beat and it all brings the community, young and old, to the dance floor.And it’s obvious that Beny’s sense of community helped create this album. From the 18 year old kid he has playing tambor and beatboxing, to his own brother DJing and designing the cover art – Beny brings together peoples of all walks of life to create and collaborate. A New Tradition is just as the title states, it’s the beginning of a new wave of Latino talent in Canada. All artists and performers, young Latinos who are creating new roots in Canada and developing new traditions to express their generation.This Sunday, "A New Tradition" will perform as part of the FREE Cultural Community Fair on Day Two of the Uma Nota Festival. As always, the Uma Nota crew has gone out of their way to program a lineup full of inspirational, educational and motivational art, dance and music that will make you happy to be living in a city as rich in culture as Toronto.