Pedro Sá Moraes "Beyond the Pleasure Principle"

Pedro Sá Moraes “Beyond the Pleasure Principle” in Toronto, Jan.18, 2014

(Versão em português abaixo)

Navigating the currents of what is Brazilian popular music (música popular brasileira), we have always stepped beyond what agents send down the line and have used our knowledge as fans of the music and active people in the scenes, from Sampa, Rio, Recife, New York, Montreal and the Tdot. With that,  on Saturday, January 18, 2014, groundbreaking Brazilian artist Pedro Sá Moraes pulls through Round Venue.Pedro Sá Moraes is a new wave of exploration in the music. A schooled musician carrying the heritage of the gluttonous tropicalia artist, consuming influences from across the Brazilian musical spectrum and unafraid to digest it and serve it up anew with digital spices. Think Gilberto Gil with Sonic Youth (his own stated influences).Moraes was named one of the "10 Artists You Should Have Known In 2012" by NPR. He is also the curator of the "Explorative Brazilian Music" showcase at New York's APAP conference, whose aim is to present a fresh outlook on contemporary Brazilian music. Pedro uses a world of musical influence he skillfully weaves in with native Brazilian rhythms and musical forms creating a journey full of colour and wonder.On his new album, Além do Princípio do Prazer (Beyond The Pleasure Principle), Moraes blends influences from his country's musical wealth, its luscious melodies and countless rhythms, with an unusual exploration of textures that could make one think of contemporary jazz and vanguard pop and rock artists such as Radiohead and Bjork. “Guitarist and singer Pedro Sá Moraes is a great introduction to Rio de Janeiro's adventurous music scene. At turns rocking and lyrical, Moraes demonstrates his ability to mine Brazil's rich musical veins and turn traditional rhythms and forms on their heads" writes Tim Wilkins of NPR.org.Check the new tracks below (click to play audio):AlaridoA Hora da EstrelaCompleting the trio are Ivo Senra and Lúcio Vieira. Ivo, pianist and musical director of the show,  has worked with the likes of Yamandú Costa, Fernanda Abreu and Seu Jorge, among others. He won the "Brazilian Music Prize" in 2012 as an electronic music producer. Lucio is a killer drummer from Brazil's Amazonas state and is classically trained. Still, he can drop a backbeat, maracatu or four on the flour like most jazz drummers' ninja fairy tales dreams. He has played with Elba Ramalho, Zelia Duncan, Dominguinhos & Rita Ribeiro.Holding it down on this musical journey and keeping the party going late will  be selectors General Eclectic and Firecracker, fresh from a super successful evening as a team at Uma Nota's edition of Harbourfront's DJ skate night, this duo promises the finest tracks for the rhythm addicted and discerning minds. We also welcome the new year in a new venue. Round Venue is a recent Kensington Market addition, and has become a hot spot for music and dance appreciation with great sound, new style and fresh vibes.Uma Nota Culture presents:Pedro Sá MoraesWith DJ General Eclectic & DJ Firecracker (samba, MPB, funk, Latin, reggae, Afrobeat)Saturday, January 18ROUND venue152A Augusta Ave. (Kensington Market)Doors 9 p.m.Tickets: $10 advance list & purchase/$15 at the doorEmail info@umanota.ca by January 18 at 4 p.m. for advance listbuy tickets!Facebook event pagePedro Sá Moraes No dia 18 de Janeiro de 2014, Sábado, Uma Nota tem o prazer de apresentar Pedro Sá Moraes, do Rio de Janeiro, para um show no Round Venue em Kensington Market. O Pedro foi nomeado pela NPR como "10 Artistas que você deveria ter conhecido em 2012". Ele apresentará o show de lançamento de seu novo disco Além do Princípio do Prazer. Pedro também é o curador do showcase "Explorative Brazilian Music", apresentado em Nova Iorque durante a conferência da APAP, o qual foi criado para difundir a nova produção musical brasileira.No disco, Moraes combina influências da riqueza musical de seu país, suas melodias sedutoras e incontáveis ritmos, a uma original exploração de texturas que remetem ao jazz contemporâneo e a artistas do pop e rock de vanguarda como Radiohead e Bjork. Imagine um encontro de Gilberto Gil e Sonic Youth. "O guitarrista e cantor Pedro Sá Moraes é uma fantástica apresentação à aventurosa cena musical do Rio de Janeiro. Entre o pulsante e o lírico, Moraes demonstra sua habilidade de explorar os ricos veios musicais do Brasil, e revirar ritmos e formas da tradição pelo avesso" escreve Tim Wilkins, do NPR.org.Novas faixas (clica para tocar):AlaridoA Hora da EstrelaCompletando a banda é Lúcio Vieira (baterista) e Ivo Senra (direção musical e arranjos). Ivo, pianista e compositor, vencedor como produtor musical do Prêmio da Música Brasileira de 2012, categoria "Música Eletrônica" com o projeto eletroacústico Lá Onde Eu Moro, de João Hermeto. Ivo Senra já dividiu palco com nomes como: Yamandú Costa, Arthur Maia, Nicolas Krassik, Jorge Aragão, Fernanda Abreu, Leo Gandelman, Torquato Mariano, Itaal Shur, Gabriel o Pensador, Seu Jorge, Gabriel Moura entre outros. Formado em Composição pela UFRJ, vem se destacando por promover um incomum entrecruzamento entre vertentes da música erudita e do universo vanguardista da música pop. Ao longo dos últimos anos, produziu o CD Carol Naine (Independente), o CD Karaokê Tupi 2, de Gabriel Moura (Som Livre) e o CD Neon, do grupo Escambo.Lucio,  natural de Manaus (Amazonas), onde iniciou sua carreira profissional aos 15 anos de idade, passando por várias vertentes musicais. Estudou no centro de artes da Universidade do Amazonas e logo se destacou como músico profissional em sua cidade natal.  Antes de partir para o Rio de Janeiro participou da Orquestra Amazonas Filarmônica, foi integrante da Orquestra de Violões do Amazonas (maestro Adelson Santos) e da Orquestra Amazonas Jazz Band (maestro Rui Carvalho).A noite também contará com DJs General Eclectic e Firecracker. Depois de uma noite de grande sucesso na edição Uma Nota do DJ Skate Night ao Harbourfront, esse duo de DJ promete um son de alta qualidade que encantará os pés de qualquer aficionado de musica boa.Apresenta:Pedro Sá Moraes Com DJ General Eclectic e DJ Firecracker (samba, MPB, Latin, reggae, Afrobeat e mais)Sábado, 18 JaneiroROUND venue 152A Augusta Ave. (Kensington Market)Portas 9 p.m. Ingressos: $10 lista antecipada / $15 na portaManda email para info@umanota.ca até 18 Janeiro as 4 p.m. para adicionar nomes na lista avançadaCompre ingressos aqui!Ver evento no FacebookPedro Sá Moraes

Uproot Andy's worldwide tropical bass takeover

Uproot Andy (Photo courtesy of Uproot Andy)Since we last checked in with our hero, Uproot Andy continues to be the world's biggest and best tropical bass DJ.[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6662111" params="" width=" 100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]Andy and friends at Que Bajo!?The co-founders of the popular Que Bajo?! parties in NYC (now in year five), aka Uproot Andy and Geko Jones, took a big step earlier this year in furthering the tropical bass world domination agenda: they launched Que Bajo?! as a digital record label.[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/89253565" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]The mixtape Andy put out, Worldwide Ting, quickly reached over 80,000 plays around the world, and the follow-up's also helping to spread the sound. Indeed, it was Andy and Geko's intention from the get-go to "share the sound of the party with a global audience," and it seems the mixtapes have accomplished what Andy set out for them to do: expose more people to the tropical bass/global bass sounds for which he and Que Bajo?! are known.Geko Jones, Uproot Andy and Liliana Saumet of Bomba Estéreo  [soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/99433201" params="secret_token=s-1UD3m" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]Andy's not the only one who's released new sounds. Geko Jones does his own thing when it comes to these infectious Latin rhythms and non-stop digital beats. His most recent project, a collaboration with fellow DJ and producer Atropolis, releasing this compilation earlier this year as well:The Dutty Artz members made this compilation as an exploration of Afro-Colombian roots music for the next (digital) generation. As Geko Jones told MTV Hive: "The traditions hidden in this mix are something that future generations can understand and learn from and serves as a lesson that in this age of new latest go-go-go culture, we still have a lot we can learn from those that came before us."Uproot Andy & Geko JonesBoth Andy and Geko have kept busy with all things Que Bajo?! through the last several months. In September, Andy (originally from Toronto) included a nod to one Canadian cultural fixture in his "favourite worldwide tingz" post for VICE's new(ish) Thump site: Montreal bagels beat out those from his current home base, NYC.[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/105503333" params="secret_token=s-xvqja" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]One of our favourite confluences happens in Uproot Andy's Worldwide Ting Vol. II: Andy remixes Siba. He describes it here:"I first heard Siba with his previous group Mestre Ambrosio and he always brings a creative and progressive approach to the traditional music of Northeastern Brazil. With this remix, I put Siba’s Ciranda tune in a downtempo house framework and tried to bring out the horn melodies in the synths and just let it breathe."Uproot Andy and Geko Jones perform at Bridges Tropical Mashup : Live, Digital & Analog on Saturday, October 19 at Great Hall. More info and tickets here. Facebook event page here

The Hustle of Alice Russell

Guest blogger DJ Mogpaws, aka James Bamberger, is a musical treasure hunter, Pan-American multi-linguist and tropical traveler. He is the DJ for the third annual Community Cultural Fair at this year's festival. He is also a giant fan of Alice Russell, and here are his words and video selections as her Toronto show approaches. -- Ed. There are many talented vocalists on our fair planet, but not a single one of them sounds like Alice Russell.  Her distinctive tone, cadence and power immediately latch onto your brain the moment she comes at you from any of her numerous recordings.[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/107418167" params="" width=" 100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]Alice RussellAs you should know by now, she will be alighting on our fair town as a part of the Uma Nota Festival on Friday, October 18. The Garrison is the venue, and missing this show would be a heinous act worthy of a stern rump hiding with a cricket bat.There was a moment whilst baked back in 2002 when I came home from Play de Record with a copy of Quantic’s album Apricot Morning that Jason Palma had demanded I procure.  It featured Alice Russell on two of the tracks and upon listening, I began to weep like a small schoolgirl being teased for her braces as I’d never heard such a voice on electronic-based music prior to that. It’s been 11 years since then and that whole time she’s been releasing forward-thinking, soulful music that is snuggled in the collections of humans with taste across the globe.From here, it would be easiest to copy and paste some biographical/discographical facts from Wikipedia or the official Alice Russell website, but aren’t you already on the Internet? (For now, we implore you to keep reading and spelunking the wondrous caves of the Uma Nota blog.)As a fellow who grew up on The Simpsons, the fact that Alice had Harry Shearer  -- the voice of Mr. Burns, Principal Skinner, Ned Flanders, Lenny, Smithers and other characters -- slowly cross-dress into herself in the video for Heartbreaker was a special moment of cultural hybrid for myself and quite a few other Earth residents.Alice RussellAnd although that particular song wasn’t my favourite from her recent To Dust album, the remix by Falty DL is a sincerely nice slab of naughty, bass-heavy beatsmithing that demonstrates Ms. Russell also has a great ear for producers who can take her work and expand it into new, diverse territories.It would be a joy to now ramble on about the world going bonkers for her cover of 7 Nation Army, or how some people actually shat their pants with joy while dancing one Saturday night at Footprints to Music Takes me Up, a smashing collaboration with Mr. Scruff.  But I shall refrain.It’s a rare treat to have one of modern soul music’s greatest contributors on a Toronto stage.  (If I’m not mistaken, the last time she was here was in 2009 while touring her Pot of Gold album.) Who knows when you can catch a glimpse of her here next, so come out on October 18 for Lady Russell with her high-calibre six-piece band, as well as Phil Motion & the Easy Lo-Fi, Marques Toliver, and the man whose butt we all wanna squeeze, General Eclectic.Here’s a recent live performance worth checking out from KEXP in Seattle a few months ago:-- DJ Mogpaws (James Bamberger)Alice Russell performs at the World Soul Party on Friday, October 18, with Phil Motion & Easy Lo-Fi, General Eclectic and Marques Toliver. Co-presented by World Famous Music.  More info and tickets here. Facebook event page here.

Lido Pimienta is La Papessa

Lido Pimienta (Photo by Rob Nelson)Lido Pimienta is a Colombian-born, Toronto-based artist who defies categorization and makes art and music that collide in surprising and unique ways.“Picture Bjork if she grew up in Baranquilla,” says Sergio Elmir of Dos Mundos.Lido, who sometimes performs under the name Soundsister, has more creative energy than Burning Man and her music outstrips Latin alternative or world indie-type genre tags.Her sound incorporates (for starters) electronic beats, analog synths, Afro-Colombian rhythms and out-of-this-world chanting.Lido in performance (Photo by Brandon Benoit)Lido's recent recordings and latest material include collaborations with artists like Orquesta, Javiera Mena, Andrea Echeverri, Conector,  Isa GT and Maria y Jose, among a slew of others she impressively rattles off without hesitation.She also curates the Bridges music series at Lula Lounge along with Dos Mundos.Here's Lido Pimienta on the latest in her music, art and life.UpcomingI am working on a remix for Rafi El via Jace Clayton (Dutty Artz), [and  I] did some work for Mexicans with Guns, and of course [I've been] working really hard on my new album La Papessa, which so far has a video in the works for a song called Quiero que te vaya Bien and La Capacidad (Invierno Largo), [which] will be featured and released in a 7" available at Great Hall on November 8.On the recently released debut album by Atropolis, Transitions, I am featured in a song called Reza por Mi, which I wrote and recorded in Toronto then sent to New York; and with Boogat as well, we have a track called Unico which we wrote together and recorded in my kitchen!There are other things coming out which I am not supposed to talk about, so I guess you all must stay tuned for more.  :DReza Por Mi Feat. Lido Pimienta - Atropolis :: Music Video from Jon Agua on Vimeo.Since the last time Lido recorded an album ... The main shift is in production: this time around we are using samplers, analog synths, and experimenting with sound and instruments used in unconventional ways; I am pushing myself vocally way more than before and the themes are way more personal.[On the] first album I was writing from a third person view, always kind of putting myself in the shoes of a farmer or a young woman fighting for her rights. This time I realize I am that woman who has a voice that needs to also be heard.(Photo by Blake MacFarlane)The premise of my album, La Papessa, is basically the search for one's voice as a woman in a world in which we seem to be regressing. My message is one of love and friendship and understanding of nature and our basic human need of communication, freedom, sex, art and inclusion. I reject marriage as an entity and I sing to young females who feel pressured to have children and devote themselves to men, which happened to me mainly because of my ignorance and growing up in machismo culture in Colombia, in which for a woman to live with a partner, must occur via marriage.The other layer of emotional and political material in the themes explored in La Papessa are coming from the aftermath of a failed marriage and the young woman raising her child on her own, so [these are] anthems that sing to the loss of one's youth, but at the same time [to] the gain of wisdom, strength and love which comes from being a mother. Motherhood is an incredible thing and doing it on my own with my communities' support has been a great learning and rewarding experience. By sharing my life this way, I know my audience will connect in a deeper level and hopefully the message helps a lot of women who are struggling with these same issues.La Papessa means "High Priestess" or female Pope, it is a card in the tarot that was read to my by my friend Ulises Hadjis (a Venezuelan musician), [who is an] avid student of Alejandro Jodorowsky. In the reading, he was able to bring some light into my distressed life, which was in turmoil and filled with insecurities about being an artist, [and] a mother.Ulises read me the cards and the card that showed "what needed to be done in order get to where I wanted to be" was indeed La Papessa, the card which shows a young female sitting on a throne with a book on her lap and a headpiece which avoids her from looking outside to the periphery; she is only to focus on her book, which represents knowledge.There is lots more symbolism to talk about, but I like that last bit, because it relates to my preparation and training to write better music and be more professional on stage, on the business side of things and to be in control of myself.... What has changed the most is my spirit and my willingness to not let others take care of what I care for the most, which is my integrity. I can finally say I am proud of the music I am making, I am proud of my team and music partners; together we have been able to create a unique album which we are so eager to show when it's completed, and that we have been lucky to perform on different stages in Canada and the US, receiving nothing but good vibes.Living in Toronto, being from Colombia -- Lido's "Dos Mundos"I have adapted well in Toronto. I am a city girl all the way. Even my body is comfortable in the cold now; then again, we haven't had a real winter it seems, at least not in the last three years that I can remember.What I like about Toronto is my community. I find myself in a cocoon, sheltered from evil with my friends who are always there for me. I really love living here because of that.Colombia is family more than anything, it is the place I go to eat a mango directly from a tree and connect with my indigenous ancestry, a place to swim in the ocean and the river and be grateful for all of the natural richness we enjoy all year long on the north coast of Colombia.It gets increasingly sad to go back there though, for it seems each year things get much worse socio-politically, for instance, religion is still boss, and sin is something people believe in, so you can imagine all of the problems that arise from that.What is appalling, too, is the fascination with North America and its corporate/plastic bullshit, so for example it is considered a luxury to eat at McDonald's and go to the mall, which are replicas of whatever shitty mall we have here, as well as being considered  spaces for a family to enjoy "quality time" together -- the whole view on quality of life is warped and racism is embedded in our vocabulary as if it were normal.I mean, I love Colombia as a concept, but as a reality, I cannot see myself living there again.Despite it being dear to my heart and having it help shape me as a human being, it is not my favourite place anymore. Colombia breaks my heart.Canada is not completely innocent of any of the issues I have mentioned before, but at least if I want to marry my girlfriend, I will face no opposition and I value that immensely.Performing at Bridges Tropical Mashup on October 19My show is going to be super high energy, gangster pop, empowering, filled with fun surprises and amazing music. The rest of the acts will have to match our energy, which won't be an easy task.Lido recently collaborated with several female members of Maracatu Mar Aberto (Photo: Brandon Benoit)On top of our crazy beats and amazing brass, I am inviting [the] Maracatu girls on stage to do a song with me [previous version of that here].On visuals I am preparing a lovely repertoire with my art collective -- partners in crime Tough Guy Mountain. Our projections on screen react to the vibrations of my voice. Everything is done live, of course.Lido Pimienta performs at the Uma Nota Festival on Saturday, October 19 for Bridges Tropical Mashup -- Live, Analog & Digital. Full event details here. Facebook event page here. Full festival listings here

The Samba Squad. They Love Drums.

 Samba Squad press shot circa 2004-5If you are a lover of rhythmic, drum-based music, it is impossible to ignore Samba Squad. In multi-cultural, multi-rhythmic Toronto, a city with a great number of street bands, batucadas, maracatus, percussion groups et al., the Samba Squad, after arriving on the scene in 1999, is the city's biggest and most well-known.While they use the name ‘samba,’ they are a lot more. The Squad (as they are affectionately called) play a variety of rhythms from a host of traditions around the world. They come equipped with their own arrangements of samba, samba-reggae and maracatu from Brazil; Cuban congo; soca from Trinidad and Tobago; West African dundunba; and even Middle Eastern and Punjabi rhythms. The repertoire reflects the diverse interests and origins of the band's members. Manyof them have been accompanying the world music scene in Toronto for some time, and, while mostly sticking to the instrumentation of the Brazilian samba bateria, they have no prejudice, using any instrument in the construction of their song or arrangement. While traditional die-hard adherents of one type of musical form (like myself with maracatu and others with samba) are often adverse to the mixing and matching, it is precisely this factor that has made the Squad so popular with so many people in T.O. In many ways, musically, they represent the multi-cultural vibrancy of Toronto more than any other band. And they rock it, too.Picture of Samba Squad at Muhtadi's International Drumming Festival in 2012. In their stage show they have a whole band in place that includes keyboards (heavy composer and Brazil-phile Gordon Sheard), bass (Collin Barret) and guitar (Demetri Petsalakis). They recently released their 3rd CD, Que Beleza ("what beauty"), at Toronto's Lula Lounge. Their special guest singers usually include: Andrea di Bartolomeo, Cuban vocalist "King Bombo" Alberto Alberto,  and Brazilian singer, Uma Nota favourite, Luanda Jones.Here is a sample from their latest CD:I love the wording of the press release:"Hand to Hand, Skin to Skin…. we mix these influences with Global Grooves of the African Diaspora.  The beats ... the grooves … the flavours … all come together in a seething cauldron to produce the sound of Samba Squad." (I especially like the "seething cauldron." I am a big fan of cultural cauldron imagery.)Samba Squad is also the patron of  Drum Artz, a charitable organization that emerged out of the performance group. It is a community percussion school and arts program that is accessible to people regardless of age, gender, class, race and (dis)ability. They are the force behind Samba Kidz, a summer camp and after school program whose name says it all. It is impressive stuff, and proves that the work and vision of Samba Squad in the community is more than just lip service.Of course one can’t  tell the story of Samba Squad without Rick Lazar. Rick Lazar is in many ways the grand daddy percussionist of Southern Ontario. He is a constant reference for gigs, instruments, and considerable percussive knowledge. He is the leader and artistic director of the band and patron of Drum Artz. He is also known as the "thrill sergeant" by the Squad members. Gotta love it. Check here for his bio.bazou12_rick-chip-small-1024x682Here are  couple of videos that show the Squad's versatility and diversity:Afro-Brazilian Cuban Styles with Alberto Alberto!Samba Squad performs  this Thursday, March 21 in Toronto for the CD release of Que Beleza (part of Canadian Music Week). Venue: Lula Lounge, 1585 Dundas St. West. Doors 9:30 p.m. $15 at the door. More info: Facebook event page | Lula Lounge website listing

The Soul Motivators funk up Toronto with their debut EP release

If you're a lover of funk and soul music and you live in Toronto, the chances are you've already heard of The Soul Motivators. The nine-piece band has been together only a short time, but has hustled and sweated and played tirelessly to appear in numerous funk shows, festivals and special events around town in the one year-plus since they've been together.  These eight guys and one soulful mama don't miss many chances to do their thing.  What's most impressive is that the band has kept up the pace of their many shows, all while spending months in the studio recording their debut self-titled EP, which drops this March 2013 with shows in Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.Soul MotivatorsThe Soul Motivators, as their website bio describes them, are "here to restore your faith in funk." Their sound, guitarist and co-founder Voltaire Ramos explains, harkens back to something of a bygone era. Why do they want this sound? "It’s nostalgia for honest, authentic, non-commercially-driven music," he says. "It’s music from the gut ... you can really hear the gritty honesty just oozing out of '70s funk. I think the sound we love is driven by something other than chasing dollars and commercial success."That analog, one-take approach from their favourite '60s and '70s records remains a driving inspiration for their sound. They even limited themselves to eight microphones in the session, to "create that retro style and sound."Ramos notes that the band's members all came to funk -- along with influences like classic hip-hop, soul and Afrobeat -- in a number of ways. In his case, it was growing up in the '80s near Trinity Bellwoods Park and in the '90s in Rexdale where his crate-digging tendencies came about. "I was surrounded by hip-hop the whole time. I loved the fat bass lines, the drum breaks, the scratchy rhythm guitar, and the horns that were all over the samples they’d use," he says, citing the likes of Pete Rock & CL Smooth, NAS, A Tribe Called Quest and others as early references. "I started exploring the music they sampled and pretty much found a treasure trove of awesome music: obscure soul, funk, jazz – music that you would never hear on commercial radio."He also mentions that through the late-'90s Movement parties in Toronto, helmed by DJ Jason Palma, he learned to see the connections between different styles of music as diverse as hip-hop, house, Afrobeat, Latin, blues and soul. Other members of The Soul Motivators may have different trajectories for finding the music they wanted to make with this project, but they've ended up together in a formation that allows them to produce the sounds they love.The band formed in 2011 after Ramos, drummer Doug Melville and keyboard player James Robinson decided to change up the funk approach from a previous group they'd been in (Ambassadors, circa 2009).  "We wanted to explore a rawer, grittier sound." They soon connected with bassist Marc Shapiro of King Sunshine, and added him on, along with the three-man horn section of Nathan Dell-Vandenberg (trombone), Dominique Morier (saxophone) and Thomas Moffett (trumpet). Next came vocalist Lydia Persaud and finally, percussionist Nigel Pitt on congas, bells and other fun rhythmic elements.The Soul Motivators - Gravy Train from Orange Peel Pictures on Vimeo.Soul Motivators caught the attention of Toronto's CBC Radio One early on: Until the Sun Goes Down was a track of the week on the afternoon show Here and Now, and Gravy Train, another signature tune, received a fair bit of airplay. After we heard Gravy Train, we had to ask about the story behind the song, and its composer, keyboard player James Robinson obliged:"As a songwriter, I wanted to pay tribute to James Brown's soul divas - Lyn Collins, Marva Whitney et al. They'd sing songs of empowerment after being messed around by a no-good man. There's a universality to that, just as many of us have been hard done by in the recent economic downtown. So it's a two-fold response to those two scenarios. Of course, you can infer a little 'local flavour' if you wish (not naming any names; nudge-nudge, wink-wink, say no more). This song gets a good reaction at shows because lyrically it appeals to Toronto. But more than that, its a soulful 12-bar groove you'd find on a dusty, old 45. A rare gem from the bottom of the crate. And it makes you wanna move!"Of the many gigs they've played in their year or so together, the band counts high-profile opening slots for the likes of Lee Fields and Afrika Bambaataa (this past fall 2012) among the highlights, but they have also played memorable happenings like Footprints' Halloween jam last October and parties at the Great Hall such as CirQlar's Shag in February 2012 and Jen Orenstein of Maracatu Mar Aberto's recent My Funky Valentine bash. (They also maintain a monthly residency at the Orbit Room every second Thursday of the month.) And while it may surprise those who think of Toronto as a cultural hotspot, Ramos gives the prize for most memorable audience to a gig in Hamilton (then again, this may not surprise anyone who's been to a (non-Uma Nota) show in Toronto in the last, oh, several years)."It was only about 150 people but the reception was crazy, it was rammed, " says Ramos. "People were literally jumping in the air, kicking their shoes off, pouring out this intense energy to us. We had no choice but to pour it right back." For pure electricity at a show, he says nothing has quite touched that night in Hamilton so far.But with the EP release coming up, the band has a few special treats in store. For one, they will perform never-before-heard originals along with a slate of new cover tunes, as well as their other original tunes from the album. They will also try a DJ-live band collaboration, starting from a vinyl track and using it to transition to the live band performance, a first for the Soul Motivators in concert.Get ready to motivate yourself onto that dance floor, if you know what's good for you.The Soul Motivators Toronto EP release takes place on Friday, March 15, with the Soul Motivators live alongside DJs Andy B. Bad and Voltaire (of the Soul Surrender series). Venue: Bite, 423 College St. Tickets: $10 cover at the door.  Doors: 10 p.m.  More info: Soul Motivators websiteFacebook event pageCover art for the Soul Motivators' self-titled debut EP

Os Tropies revive Tropicalia in Toronto

Tropicalia (the band) is no more; long live Os Tropies.Os Tropies invite you to celebrate their new releaseThat's the short version of an updated announcement we mentioned in our post (Tropicalia, transformation and magic) last August 2012. That's when the group played the final gig under their former name, and true to their promise, they are back: Now known as Os Tropies (their own nickname for themselves), the project relaunches with a new EP featuring original material and a series of shows at The Piston in Toronto this February.Album art by Amy MedvickThe band emerges from a writing and recording cocoon that songwriter and lead singer Amy Medvick previously described this way:"Our focus is shifting from being primarily a cover/tribute band to working more on original material. Of course, I don’t think we will ever give up playing our favourite Os Mutantes or Novos Baianos tunes, it's way too much fun! But writing in this style is truly exciting and liberating. I feel like there really isn’t any territory that isn’t open to a tropicalista, now more than ever. I’m writing in equal parts English and Portuguese and incorporating anything that inspires me."Though they will continue to feature tropicalismo classics in their live shows and recordings, the EP, appropriately titled TROPICALIA!, marks their metamorphosis from a cover band  to one that writes and performs original tunes. On the five-song CD, Medvick's lyrics in English, Portuguese and French ride energetic grooves drawing from the group's steady mix of bossa nova, psychedelic rock, and samba references, all in keeping with tropicalia tradition.Les Chattes Jolies (available for free downloadIn true Toronto tropical-lovin' fashion, Os Tropies have put together a whole mess of fun and unique musical support for the series of shows comprising their EP release residency at The Piston. Each Wednesday night show has its own theme, based around honouring one or more of the band's crucial tropicalismo references. (Says drummer Eric Woolston: "You can choose your favourite flavour of Brazilian psychedelic spirit possession, or collect the whole set!")The group's photo shoot for the EP release pays homage to the photography for the landmark album Os Panis et Circenses (on which artists like Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Tom Zé, Os Mutantes and Gal Costa all collaborated), down to sly nods to the 1968 classic like the picture frame, the boho-mystic-hippie chic of the day and the fellow agitators and allies in the movement.Supporting artists during the February residency include Aline Morales, Maria Bonita and the Band, Petra Glynt and other locals on the live act side (two guest live bands plus Os Tropies at each show), as well as a host of weekly rotating DJs including Uma Nota founding resident DJ General Eclectic, Firecracker, Maylee ToddDavid Dacks, Friendlyness and Sandro Perri.The original Tropicalia movement and its artists were nothing if not products of their era. Os Tropies, in resurrecting, celebrating and re-visioning the music in all its theatricality and exuberance, create their own Toronto-born interpretation with style to spare. A singular feat for any band, at any time of the year, much less a mid-week residency during the city's coldest months -- still, there is plenty of substance behind Os Tropies' confidence in their series.Os Tropies play The Piston (937 Bloor St. W.) in Toronto on Wednesdays February 6, 13, 20 and 27. All shows start 10 p.m. Cover charge is $5 and the EP is $5. More information is available on the Facebook event page or on the band's websiteUma Nota Culture is supporting this event series. 

On the trail of Jerus Nazdaq

Somewhere near Boipeba Island, Bahia, Brazil.We had just sat down at a beachfront restaurant. It was actually more of a simply built wooden 'A' frame structure. The area behind it was a campground and in the front there was a covered kitchen and a few tables with benches looking out towards the ocean. The vibe was very traveler summer backpacker styles. Very remote, no cell phone signals, no internet anywhere close.She walked right by me and went up to the counter to order. "Jerusa!"She didn't even notice. She was focused on her mission to place an order with the very relaxed and nonchalant restaurant/campground owner. I came up close and put my hand on her arm. "Jé! Tudo bom?" The Jerusa smile and wide eyes, a huge hug. "I can't believe you are here!We had talked fleetingly a few times over email. She had said she would be traveling in Bahia, south of Salvador. This encounter was chance.For those of you who don’t know, Jerusa Leão, also known as Jerus Nazdaq, is a musician and DJ that gained a certain underground notoriety in Toronto. She is an electronic DJ and track selector, with varying styles ranging from dubstep, techno, reggae, and complete mash-ups often tinged with a certain tropical flavour. She often produces her own tracks taking elements from just about anywhere. She has played diverse parties such as Om Re:union, Promise, Cherry Bomb, the Brazil Film Fest opening and of course Uma Nota. As a singer and instrumentalist she was the Maria in Maria Bonita & The Band, a rootsy forró band that created some waves for those in the know. She was an active agitator in the Fedora Upside Down Collective alongside the likes of the Lemon Bucket Orkestra and Freeman Dre & the Kitchen Party. She also regularly moonlighted singing and playing with Maracatu Mar Aberto. All of this and as a solo guitar and voice act, she fluttered lotsa hearts around town.Well, a few months ago she kinda disappeared from the scene. Feeling the call of her native Bahia, she left Toronto to travel a bit.And here she was, right in front of me, a few hours after our random meeting, guitar in hand, playing and singing samba and forró songs.Even here, in a remote fishing community spread out over a few kilometers of beach, occupied by several hundred travellers, many of them musicians, she had gained a certain notoriety.

After a few days Jerusa was off to Itácaré down the coast to play in the numerous surfer bars. From there she is going to play the Ressonar festival in Chapada Diamantina.She also has plans to come back to Canada in the not too distant future but for now she is focusing at this very moment in making things happen in her Brazil.

Luiz Gonzaga: 100 Years and an Eternal Legacy.

This year is the centenary of Luiz Gonzaga. I’ve been delaying writing this post for some time now. In fact, his birthday was on December 13th and I had wanted to celebrate and write this for that day. Alas, it was not to be. Instead I did what every good forrozeiro should do while in Rio: I went to a forró in the square at Praça Tiradentes and danced with some lovely ladies to live music. It had rained early in the afternoon, so the night was warm and humid; only the die-hards came out to hear the many bands sharing the stage and paying tribute to the great Gonzaga, the King of Baião.How can one convey the immense influence and legacy of Luiz Gonzaga in a simple web post?Well, instead of rehashing what you can easily find on Wikipedia, other websites and in books about Gonzaga, I thought I would give you a quick breakdown and let you use your own research skills to find out more about this man. I’ve curated a bunch of YouTube videos of songs and clips that I thought might help you along the path. Take the time to discover the wonderful story of Luiz Gonzaga.The son of an “8 baixos” accordion (diatonic button accordion) player named Januário, Luiz Gonzaga was born in arid Northwest of Pernambuco state in Brazil. He joined the army, traveled Brazil, and ended up in Rio de Janeiro. Fate took hold and a series of historical currents allowed for this man to become the reference for forró and Northeastern culture across Brazil.At the time Luiz went to Rio, there was an influx of poorer working class migrants from the drought-stricken northern states. Although he tried to get into the Portuguese fado style, marchinhas and other contemporary music of classy Rio, it was the infectious rhythms and melodies of the Northeast that got him noticed. His showmanship made him popular. The themes of his songs, the hardships of migrant life, homesickness, and the rural life, became trendy among all the people.Luiz was a super gifted performer and he created some important creative friendships with composers like Humberto Teixera. Humberto wrote the song Asa Branca, which became and remains the anthem of forró music and of the "simple life" back home; of nostalgia. It was with Humberto, also from the Northeast, in this case Ceara state, that they decided that the base rhythm for their songs would be the "baião."The era also saw radio flourish. The recorded sound was just reaching early adolescence. He signed a contract with RCA and at one point in time it seemed like Luiz was the only artist they were recording. With this, he inspired a generation. He became the de facto reference for forró and his voice was heard all around the nation. People were buying radios, and people flocked around the radio. The popular performer was also a popular marketer, endorsing many products and services from supermarkets to cars.Here is Luiz and band in a film from 1958. Check out the cool steps when they dance the "xaxado." This band was often playing for the Rio elites in the swank clubs and hotels of the day.Below is the trailer of the movie The Man Who Bottled Clouds, which is about the life of Humberto Teixera, but chronicles much of a crucial time in Luiz Gonzaga's career. (There are English subtitles; it makes for a great reference.)But wait! I wouldn’t want to be misinterpreted here. It was not chance that made the King of Baião. Maybe there was an element of chance involved, but the man created a legacy through beautiful music, performance, an acknowledgement of the tradition and cleverness. His songs carry such a beautiful poetic tone, sometimes romantic, sometimes fun, sometimes sad, and often tongue and cheek.This is one of my favorites, in a dubby style and a minor key, it speaks of a journey of hardship yet satisfaction at the place you have reached in life. Epic.One beautiful anecdote I read somewhere is from when Luiz wandered into a record store in Fortaleza, sometime in the early '70s. Luiz was really a thing of the past then, with few people in the industry paying attention to him after the early '60s, when bossa nova and Brazilian rock became more prominent. He maintained his popularity in his beloved Northeast however, and the store owner instantly recognized him. The shopkeeper asked Luiz if he had heard Caetano Veloso’s version of Asa Branca. Luiz responded that he hadn’t. Caetano, at this point living in exile in London, included this song as the last on his record. It was a slow rendition, a strong lament of the saudade, the nostalgia, that he felt for home. Luiz cried from the emotion. The old man not even conscious of his legacy among a generation of tropicalia musicians. Soon after Gilberto Gil proclaimed that Luiz and Humberto Teixeira, the composers of his time, were “responsible for a revolution in my life.”After that, the great Luiz Gonzaga slowly returned the the popular consciousness of the nation. He reunited with his estranged son and began touring once more. Another interesting tidbit, Luiz Gonzaga apparently said (speaking about the dictatorship era), is that music about politics is for the educated university types like Caetano and Gilberto Gil -- he was just a simple man.This is the trailer of a recent movie about the relationship of Luiz Gonzaga with his son and the burden of being the King of Baião and being from a simple rural background.Another great moment of interview of father and son. Please learn Portuguese people, or ask someone special to help you translate. ;)I guess at this point I should let you know about about forró. Here is a quick explanation from a previous article I wrote:Forró is not really the music per se. It is more of an all-inclusive cultural manifestation: music, dance, party. When you dance the rhythms of forró it is usually in a pair. Style can vary between people and region but it is always fun, tongue & cheek, and sometimes safado (an implied sly sexuality). The 3 basic instruments are: the triangle, the zabumba drum and the accordion. The three basic rhythms are: Xote (pronounced 'shótch' and usually slower), Baião (more up-tempo) and the Arrasta Pé (quick two step).Check more videos:A cute animation to a famos Luiz xote about a young girl who seems ill, but really she's just got the love bug of adolescence. Her dad takes her to the doctor, and the doctor says: "There ain't no cure in all of medicine!"Here is a song in the baião rhythm. It is upbeat and happy. Chamego is when you dance close, cheek to cheek often hip to hip and belly to belly, a bit jumpy and totally with no shame and a sly smile on your face: "Ai! Que chamego bom!"This one is an arrasta pé rhythm, more upbeat and you dance side to side. This is also the beat you use in a quadrilha, Brazilian old time square dancing.Here is one of my absolute favorites. In this one, with wicked instrumentation including a flute, Luiz, in a classic forró spoken word style, tells the story of how he returned to his father's house after more than sixteen years living in the Southeast of Brazil. It is told in classic Northeastern dialect and cleverness. Send me a message if you want me to translate for you.The Brazilian national news report of Luiz's funeral in his hometown of Exu, Pernambuco, in 1989:And finally, his classic song A Vida do Viajante, sung with his son, affectionately known as Gonzaguinha, or little Gonzaga.Long live the great Luiz Gonzaga, O Rei do Baião!-- Alex Bordokas 

Uproot Andy meets Bomba Estereo's Li Saumet in Toronto

Uproot Andy (photo via Gozamos.com) Of all the DJs out there playing tropical, Latin-based electronic music, Uproot Andy is a top artist.To explain a little more about why, our man on all things tropical bass Sergio Elmir (aka DJ eLman aka the voice of Dos Mundos Radio) gives us the goods:What is it about AndyIn the tropical bass scene, heavy, pounding beats dominate. But, says Elmir, "Andy has often professed his love for beautiful, soulful music."This is a rare thing in a scene that has as much to do with BPM as it does with the traditional Latin rhythms with which they're often matched."His great ear for music is what makes him such an amazing DJ," says Elmir.Toronto-raised, later to immerse himself in tropical music, Uproot Andy has made himself instrumental in this musical movement: "He's a focal point," says Elmir.  "People strive to be where he's at."It was as an NYU student that Uproot Andy (aka Andy Gillis) got his big break in NYC through the popular Que Bajo?! parties, which Elmir calls the premiere tropical bass party, "Really I'd say in the world."That event series is five years old and has presented some of the tropical bass genre's best artists, including Andy as a mainstay. (More on Uproot Andy here and a podcast here, both via XLR8R magazine.)Now for a special collaboration treat, those in Toronto should check this out:  Andy plays in that city this weekend, and it's a rare performance alongside Li Saumet, the vocalist from Bomba Estereo, one of the biggest bands out of Colombia right now.Last summer, Dos Mundos and Small World Music brought Bomba Estereo to Lula Lounge for a packed show. Andy and Li Saumet have played lots of same festivals and Andy's spent time in Colombia, so in the past year they started this collaboration.The Toronto show, happening as part of the energetic Air Horns event  supported by Elmir and Dos Mundos, isn't even an official tour, but rather a special rare treat in Toronto."Only those who've been in NYC or Bogota* in the past year have seen this show," says Elmir. And it won't hit other cities anytime soon, at least for the time being. [*Ed: Or, OK, Medellin, another city in Colombia ... see video below.]Here's a video clip from one of their collaboration performances in Colombia this past year:For this Toronto show, Li Saumet will perform new material and Bomba Estereo tracks over Andy's set (special participation from Li Saument with Uproot Andy).Uproot Andy in Toronto with Li Saument of Bomba Estereo. Poster by General EclecticUproot Andy, Li Saumet, Dos Mundos DJs and more play Air Horns on Friday, December 21 in Toronto. Facebook event page here 

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 Toronto rebirth of Asiko Afrobeat Ensemble

BUY TICKETS to see Asiko Afrobeat Ensemble live at The Great Hall on Saturday Oct. 20

Toronto is rich with musical and artistic talent from all cultures and disciplines. But it hasn’t seen a new Afrobeat band on the scene for some time.Last fall, Nigerian Foly Kolade chose Toronto as the place to relaunch his Asiko Afrobeat Ensemble. Kolade ran the project (under the name Asiko) in Brooklyn for five years before dissolving it in 2008. Newly reconstituted in Toronto, Asiko now includes drummer Raphael Roter, known to the local Brazilian music scene for his involvement in groups like Maracatu Nunca Antes and Samba Elégua.Kolade is slowly unfurling the band's repertoire. "He knows all of the parts, he knows how it should sound," says Roter. "He's been running this thing for nine years! I think he has quite a large backlog of tunes that we'll bring back to life ... he's just waiting until we're cooking before he writes new tunes."Kolade brings more than a wealth of songs to share with bandmates and fans; he also brings stories of speaking truth to power.His story as a musician begins with playing talking drum and congas at his aunt's art centre in Osogbo, Nigeria in the early '90s. He soon joined a friend's highlife group, performed for government dignitaries, and in 1993 made his first trip to the US.An artist in batik, tie-dye and rice paper painting, Kolade traveled around Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, giving workshops through college arts programs. When he wasn't back in Nigeria, he lived in Brooklyn, finally settling there in 1998. He played with  Afro-funk pioneer Wunmi for several years, including a memorial concert at SOB's where he shared the stage with George Benson and Roy Ayers, Wunmi's godfather.In 2003, Kolade formed Asiko in Brooklyn -- the group's first show was on October 20, 2003 -- and the band performed around the US. Duke Amayo of Antibalas and Fu-Arkestra sometimes sat in.The band performed at university and even high school functions. Once, Kolade recounts, they got a room full of walker-bound 80-year-old women to get up and dance.As Roter mentions, the band’s impressive repertoire of original Afrobeat tunes may be new to Toronto, but was already refined by Kolade’s Brooklyn project. "We're really lucky," says Roter of he and his bandmates, a cross-section of Cuban, reggae, R&B and groove players from various Toronto scenes. "Foly came from NYC with everything."Kolade’s music is informed by struggle. While in New York, he played the launch party of African television station AIT. The day before the gig, organizers who'd heard his lyrics about corruption in African politics asked him to change the words, as the Nigerian president would be in attendance. Kolade refused, and still took the stage the next day, with Wunmi and Asiko backing him up."The song was called Oun Ti E Je, which means 'what goes into you is what you throw out.'"It's a proverb in Yoruba that about [wrongdoings] ... it's about people elected into government and [how] they are stealing money," he says."The system in Africa is, when [someone] becomes president, they can act how they want because don't need votes, they can just can rig an election."When he started singing the controversial lyrics, "the woman came running: 'stop!' ... Right in front of me, 'stop!' So we stopped and left the stage. A lot of my guys are American, had never witnessed this situation before, and were wondering what was going on. Some were afraid -- they could see that some in the hall were Nigerian secret service."Asiko gigged for years, playing "every music scene in NYC." They recorded an album in 2007. The following year, Kolade returned to Nigeria on family business and stayed there for a few years. Asiko was dissolved.He divided his time between the cities of Lagos and Ibadan, and continued performing. But with police monitoring and harassing him, he began playing less often. Eventually he was forced into hiding. He made the decision to leave Nigeria and start over in Canada.Musician friends had recommended Toronto. Kolade arrived in November 2011 and soon put out a call on Craigslist in an effort to reform Asiko.(Asiko translates from Yoruba as "time, an appointed moment, connoting fate; example: your time has come." Asiko is also the name of an African music style originating from Nigeria.)Kolade auditioned a number of musicians before settling on the current roster. Drummer Raphael Roter was excited to get the call. "I thought upon listening to the tunes that I'd have the music in the bag in no time, but then as I prepared I realized that there was so much going on in the music."The first rehearsals "were terrifying and I constantly felt like I wasn't getting it ... but I suppose Foly liked something he heard, so I made the cut. I've been working on this material for a little while now, but I feel I still have a way to go before it'll sound like I want."After two Toronto shows, Asiko has begun to gel, says Roter. The most recent, in July at the now-closed Trane Studio, was where the group began to find their sound and get more comfortable playing together.On his role in the group's Afrobeat sound and playing the rhythms that drive it all, Roter says: "Perhaps I have something about my sense of time and groove that's different. I'm a listener and don't take an ‘I'm the drummer, everyone follow me’ approach so much."I listen to lots of Afrobeat, some soukous and highlife. I try to give the music the kind of energy that I hear in these old recordings. But we also try to pull stuff in from reggae and R&B too. Each of these present their own challenges I guess."Above all this though I think there's the main task of drumming in a way that every dance band drummer has to live up to: They have to drive the party, they have to inflect their playing in a way that makes moving feel great ... and of course you need to have fun."Asiko Afrobeat Ensemble performs on Saturday, October 20 at The Great Hall as part of the Uma Nota Festival of Tropical Expressions  - Flagship Event - World Funk showcase. 

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.

The samba style of Jô Lutério

One of the brightest recent additions to Toronto's Brazilian music scene is Jô Lutério, a singer/songwriter from Rio de Janeiro. Following an invitation from fellow Carioca musician friend Carla Dias, who had lived in Toronto some time, Lutério arrived in the summer of 2011 with music in mind. The two already had a project together from Rio called Sintonia Carioca and went straight to work playing shows, and in early 2012, they recorded their first album, O Som da Sintonia. Lutério grew up hearing samba in the family quintal (backyard), and her grandfather was a composer for the samba school Unidos de São Carlos, today known as the school Estácio de Sá. Her uncles were samba percussionists and the entire experience of being around samba since childhood greatly influences her musical work.Lutério has been playing since she was 16 and in Rio was best known for her group Cafundó, which started in 2008 and performed around the state of Rio de Janeiro, including a turn the popular concert venue Circo Voador in Lapa (in the city centre of Rio). Her songwriting includes tunes in the styles of MPB, reggae and pop, but she has also been developing a roda de samba project.Since her arrival in Toronto in August 2011, Lutério was quickly introduced to many of the musicians and music fans in the Brazilian community, including several Uma Nota community members and agitators. Of the local scene, she comments: "I think it's interesting there are so many people that promote Brazilian culture here, with maracatu and forró ... these Canadians take great interest in our culture. Really cool." The Brazilians here could be "um pouco mais unidos" (a bit more united), she notes, mentioning that there's still plenty of space for the community and its members to grow and evolve. But she's quick to note there's no lack of talent here. (On that note, we're excited to have her at the festival this year; details below.)For a glimpse into the dual Rio/Toronto worlds of Jô Lutério, check out these two versions of her song Minha Sorte:Acoustic styles com a familia in Rio:With Sintonia Carioca in Toronto:In the works for Lutério are a trip to Brazil to continue her work and present shows with her roda de samba project, as well as with Dias and Sintonia Carioca. Check out her performances in Toronto before she escapes the winter!Jô Lutério leads a roda de samba with guest musicians at the Community Cultural Fair on Sunday, October 21 at Supermarket in Kensington Market. (Facebook event page here)

The Sound of Sound One

BUY TICKETS to see Sound One live at The Great Hall on Saturday Oct. 20

 My heart lifts when I read the bio Sound One has up on their myspace. Check this out:Sound One wants you to appreciate movement and thought, to embrace the connection between your ears and hips. That's the kicker, but before that they start it off with:If you don’t love and respect what you’re influenced by, fuel the drive of what direction your headed, and appreciate everything and everyone along the way – you’ve missed it all. Music is mood, it’s an emotion, and in a beat you might click into the power of a harmonized mind. C'mon ... that is some wicked vision in music and I have to hand it to these cats, they are rocking it. Blaring horns, grooves, and some mind candy with crafty solos. They bring the jazz skank to the party, warming us up and freeing our insides for a shameless night of wholesome and (maybe for some) unwholesome fun.

Humber Cats Blowing Horn

check their sound:Sound One will rock it on the Flagship Party of The Uma Nota Festival of Tropical Expressions (Facebook event here).  No need to let y'all know of the origins of ska music ... The lovely Island of Jamaica, Jamaica. A country whose symbolism through music, for better or worse, has come to represent a state of mind, good tunes and great dancing.

Luanda's new bag

Luanda Jones has got a brand new bag. This Wednesday October 17th Luanda will be presenting her new quartet with some original pieces and an all star line-up with bassist Ian De Souza, keyboardist Thiago Souza, and Santosh Naidu on percussion, tabla and loops.After some time on the road playing to audiences in Paris, London, Lisbon, and her hometown of Rio de Janeiro, Luanda Jones returns to the Lula Lounge stage with both a fresh face and vibrant new repertoire. Her new compositions bring together all of the disparate and inspirational sounds encountered along her global travels, melding together influences running from quant bossa nova and comforting roots to more frenetic electronic and afro beat flavours. All of this comes in preparation for her next full-length musical endeavor, an album to be released next year that will also include Luanda’s own personal images documenting her journey. Take a listen: Since arriving in Toronto she has hit the ground running, always working on new projects, firming up her old ones, and collaborating with a fantastic array of artists including Gordon Sheard, Ian DeSouza, Bruno Capinan, Brownman Ali, Aline Morales among many others... She played a fantastic show at the Uma Nota Festival last year to a full house on our community cultural fair day.  Hardworking, much loved and inspirational, Luanda's show is for those that love the subtlety of great music. 

Celebrating a year in the life of Fedora Upside-Down

Around a table on Freeman Dre's deck in Parkdale, the heads behind the Fedora Upside-Down collective discuss details of the upcoming festival. Beyond the logistics of programming three separate rooms, including two live music stages, there are mentions of theatrical performers, photo exhibitors, art installation creators, dance and interactive performance artists, lighting planners and decor painters, and food, bar and logistics crews.Three key musicians are responsible for bringing about the Fedora Upside-Down collective: Mark Marczyk, Tangi Ropars and Freeman Dre are credited as the principal creators of the "urban folk" collective, dating back to its establishment by name around its first shows in spring 2011. Fedora Upside-Down comprises multiple bands from various traditional musical styles (and fusions theereof) world over, manifested in Toronto in an accessible way, from Balkan and bluegrass to flamenco and forró and beyond. In addition, several visual arts and performance collectives now number among many member groups, and countless more bands and urban artists make up part of the Fedora community.All of the groups and their respective scenes, both together and individually, are part of the city's most exciting and current cultural renaissance. Fedora is about uniting the diverse traditional cultural forms of music, dance and art ("folk" forms) present in the urban Toronto scene and allowing the communities, musical styles and artists to mix. (Uma Nota's tropical vibes are represented via Maria Bonita and the Band and Maracatu Mar Aberto.)While the Lemon Bucket Orkestra is one of the best-known and most visible bands in the collective, and both Ropars and Marczyk are members, the many Fedora artists around that one group have also seen a rise in interest for their work. Last year's festival was something of a catalyst."The [2011] festival opened us up to people who had never come before, it showed them what we're about. We're getting people out in the streets and we're creating worlds in the shows we do, whether as Fedora Upside-Down or as individual bands and performers," says Marcyzk. "Everyone's working on their own, too, and applying what Fedora is to their own practices."In the past year, the collective has boomed with shows, events, festivals and general snowball-effect-like growth. In addition to a roughly one-year Thursday night residency at the Cameron House, the collective's first day-long festival last October sparked a number of larger functions: A masquerade/Mardi Gras in February, a "Feria" or fair in April, Luminato appearances by Lemon Bucket Orkestra, the New Traditions festival on the Toronto Islands in late June, Sheroes at PS Kensington in July, the annual Blackout party and parade in August, the second annual Ossington-area alleyway party in September; all this plus appearances at Ashkenaz, Small World Music Festival and Nuit Blanche, and now the second annual Fedora Upside-Down festival.This year's day-long affair, notes Marczyk, while still predominantly featuring live music, brings in more artists in the visual and theatrical arts, more poets and writers, more inter. "We've opened up programming ... we want to get people involved in the cultures we're so heavily involved in," he adds, naming some of  the interactive workshops offered during the afternoon portion of the day-long festival, among them kids' theatre, mask-making, and village dances (from various traditions)."Now we want to not only show, but to teach, give people an opportunity to learn, to be involved in a personal way," says Ropars of the workshops, noting that  they will take place all afternoon, leaving time between activities. "It's a new thing, but a very important one. It's our second big event in such a large room, where lots of different communities will be gathered together ... a very unique place.""This event is different from the others that led to it," says Freeman Dre. "What's Fedora? Come to this event and you'll find out. It's also the one chance for all of us [members of the collective] to play together [in one night], for everyone to do their art form. It will probably only happen once a year."The three Fedora co-founders make it clear  that Fedora as a collective has grown, shifted and evolved since the last festival. "We're more like facilitators now," says Marczyk, noting that hundreds of bands have played shows under the Fedora banner in the past year. He says there are now more invitations to bring in artists, usually friends and colleagues, that it's less of a set collective with member groups now than it is a artist community with members united by their relationship to heritage or traditional forms of music and art. Participation is "community-based rather than genre-based," says Marczyk, and includes artists who are less visible in the city.On Fedora's style of events and shows, Ropars points to past permit-free throwdowns like the Blackout parade and the Ossington-area Alleyway Party: "Totally a community event, it's not a venue with a cover. And ours are different than other events -- we have live music non-stop."The existence of Fedora as a collective based in a certain part of the city is part of it too, the three agree."It's definitely a neighbourhood thing," says Dre on his Parkdale-area deck. "[Fedora] is a snapshot of this neighbourhood. It feels like you could walk down the block, as though there were no walls [between buildings and houses], and see all the groups in their rehearsals."Fedora Upside-Down Festival takes place Saturday, October 6 at the Ukrainian Cultural Centre. More info, tickets and full programming available via the Fedora Upside-Down website and via the Facebook event page.  

Tropicalia, transformation and magic

When we first heard tell of a tropicalismo project happening in Toronto, we wanted to know if it was real, and if it would last. Not long after that, Tropicalia, the group of musicians and friends brought together by Brazilian popular music from the '60s and '70s, has opened doors on both sides of the city's music scene. Brazilians with a special spot for the tunes Tropicalia delivers live -- including covers of Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Os Mutantes and Os Novos Baianos -- gain a new window into the indie rock, experimental and fresh younger players gaining ground; meanwhile some of the previously unindoctrinated 20somethings begin to discover not only the music of the tropicalia genre, but the pure fun and general beleza of what a Brazilian style live show can be. Their latest gig clocks in just around the group's two-year anniversary and finds the group amid a time of striking change and rebirth. The show is billed as "Tropicalia's last show before like a chrysalis they undergo metamorphosis and emerge from the cocoon with antenna and eye-spotted wings."We put it to to lead singer, borboleta in chief and the band's musa, Amy Medvick, to give us the goods on Tropicalia.[UPDATE: New post January 2013: Os Tropies revive Tropicalia in Toronto (February 2013 weekly residency at The Piston for the release of the group's EP TROPICALIA!)]Building a tropicalia band in Toronto

This project spent a long time as an idea, a fantasy. Between myself, our keyboardist Dave Atkinson, and our most recent addition to the band on drums, Fraser McEvoy, there had been this sharing of Brazilian music of all kinds over a period of several years (and cities!). The music from the tropicalia movement always had a special appeal for each of us, and I think we each had our own fantasies of performing this music, as unlikely and untenable as that seemed at the time. Eventually Dave and I, both living and working as musicians in Toronto, were in a position to start it up for real. We weren’t sure exactly who would come and see us play this obscure style of music, or even who was going to play in the band! But I had a feeling the right people would materialize and they sure enough did, and always have. Shortly after we agreed to make it happen, we found and collected the rest of the original members, including our guitarist Graham Campbell and our percussionist Eric Woolston (we arrived at our current line-up with the later additions of Carlie Howell on bass and Fraser on drums). Though the original idea was just to do a couple of shows for kicks, we did our first gig for a lovely, supportive audience of fellow tropicalia fans — who were singing along to the Portuguese lyrics without understanding a word! It was a very inspiring thing, and from that first show I knew we had hit on something that people were going to respond to, obscurity and foreign-language not withstanding.

Approaching a semi-obscure genre within the Brazilian music universe ... from Toronto

I think both our biggest advantage and disadvantage are one and the same thing— the genre itself, specifically the fact that it is relatively unfamiliar to the general population both in Brazil and Canada. Depending on the venue or event, people who haven’t been exposed to what tropicalismo is all about can be a bit confused by the mix of pysch rock, “Latin” rhythms, Portuguese lyrics and unmitigated wackiness. However, there is a die-hard core of people who love this music and love seeing it played live. With the release of several compilations of the tropicalia classics, the genre is becoming more well known, and the sounds of the music, if not the names, are spreading even further into facets of the popular music scene here in Toronto. We were lucky that we started up at the exact moment when the fans of the style were enough to build an audience, but no one else here was playing this music. And we have watched as enthusiasm for tropicalia has spread throughout our community over the two years we have been playing it.

 Reining in wild, busy musiciansYou know, every band has its challenges but I feel like we have been truly blessed. Musically we have always had the energy and the ability to play this stuff. The personnel has changed a bit over the last two years, but never for lack of talent or love. The only issue has been working with super talented people who are very busy! It can be wild working to hold such a dynamic group of people in one place for very long, but love for the music has kept us together and kept us going no matter how crazy the rest of our lives get, and the musical rewards are never lacking.Covers, purity, singing in Farsi: Tropicalia's take on tropicalia (or tropicalismo)

We started out mostly playing covers. We are definitely not purists, but we tend to stick close to the originals — why fix what’s already uncontrollably awesome? On the other hand, as I spent time learning more of these psychedelic tunes, my writing naturally started to incorporate those sounds. It was only a couple of months before we started bringing in original material, and now we have enough to play a set of only originals if we wanted to, with contributions from myself and our guitar player, Graham Campbell. We have also done a few covers from outside the tropicalia genre, although always bearing a strong relationship to what we are doing. For example, sometimes we play the aptly titled Beck song, Tropicalia, giving our audience something a bit more familiar or accessible that still references our main inspiration. On the other hand, more recently I brought in a song from what I think of as the psychedelic era of Iran, a tune called Mano Tou by legendary Persian singer Googoosh. I had been checking out this whole new genre of music and I started to get the feeling that they had been checking out some Brazilian music. So I thought I would complete the circle, so to speak, and bring in a tune to Tropicalia. Singing in Farsi was a challenge, but a blast— I always love to sink my teeth into a new set of sounds in a new language!

The real thrill of performance

I don’t know if there has been one performance highlight in particular, we have had a lot of great moments, if I don’t say so myself! My favourite moments, however, are always when we have a certain balance in our audience— some people who know and love us well, some who know what we are about and are curious to hear us for the first time, and some who have no idea what they are about to hear. When that balance is there and the energy on stage is right, I can feel the impact of the first notes on the audience, like a shockwave, and I see folks start to get excited. It’s really thrilling when that can happen.

... these days you are more and more likely to see me getting on stage dressed up as Queen Cleopatra or writing tunes about having a love affair with a Caveman. I think it all works in this style… Jorge Ben was writing about the Taj Mahal and desert nomads, the Mutantes about Don Quixote, and Ney Matogrosso was singing about the women of Athens while decked out in feathers and gold. I want us to continue the journey back in time into those fantasy worlds.

 

Feathers and gold: Transformative magic, new directionsWe are about to go through a bit of a transformation… We are working up to the release of our first EP, and with that we are also going to be changing the band name to represent our new direction. Our focus is shifting from being primarily a cover/tribute band to working more on original material. Of course, I don’t think we will ever give up playing our favourite Os Mutantes or Novos Baianos tunes, its way too much fun! But writing in this style is truly exciting and liberating. I feel like there really isn’t any territory that isn’t open to a tropicalista, now more than ever. I’m writing in equal parts English and Portuguese and incorporating anything that inspires me. I have always drawn a lot of inspiration from ancient history and pre-history, and recently I have been looking at ways to work this into my own writing and performance aesthetic. So these days you are more and more likely to see me getting on stage dressed up as Queen Cleopatra or writing tunes about having a love affair with a Caveman. I think it all works in this style… Jorge Ben was writing about the Taj Mahal and desert nomads, the Mutantes about Don Quixote, and Ney Matogrosso was singing about the women of Athens while decked out in feathers and gold. I want us to continue the journey back in time into those fantasy worlds. Tropicalismo is full of transformative magic, expect to see us take full advantage of that!Tropicalia is Amy Medvick, David Atkinson, Graham Campbell, Carlie Howell, Fraser McEvoy, and Eric Woolston.Tropicalia plays the Piston (apparently for the last time as Tropicalia) on Wednesday, August 8 in Toronto[UPDATE: New post January 2013: Os Tropies revive Tropicalia in Toronto (February 2013 weekly residency at The Piston for the release of the group's EP TROPICALIA!)]

Maninho Costa and Batucada Carioca

In Toronto, there are many agitators in the Brazilian music scene. A great figure and a reference in this scene is the leader of Batucada Carioca, Maninho Costa.  It's crazy, because we don’t realize how lucky we are to have a man like Maninho Costa or ManinhoZ10 (pronounced mah-knee-n-yo-zé-des). He is a true link between our world and Brazil. A sambista through and through, he is the real deal  and his feel in the rhythm is unparalleled. Even in Brazil it would be rare to have the opportunity to study and learn from a man like Maninho.Maninho (a term of endearment meaning "little bro") started playing in the baterias of Rio de Janeiro in his early youth. His uncle, Mestre Odilon Costa, is one of the most recognized masters of the big Rio samba schools. Among 100 hand-picked musicians, Maninho was chosen to record the solo repinique parts on the Sergio Mendez record Brasileiro, for the song Fanfarra. He has played and is recognized in all the major samba school baterias. He ended up in Toronto in the early 2000s after being invited to play for the annual Brazilian Ball. And so it goes -- he has been here ever since, punctuated by the yearly trips to the homeland, Rio de Janeiro.A little preview of what will come when Maninho Costa and Batucada Carioca hit at Uma Nota: Here's ManinhoZ10 as a featured guest with Monobloco. Be prepared for a full-on show.While involved in a number of musical projects in Canada, including Tio Chorinho, Aline Morales, Jesse Cook and Sinal Aberto, Maninho's own samba project in Toronto is Batucada Carioca. What evolved from an informal jam group became the city's premiere Rio-style samba troupe. The foundation of Batucada Carioca's music is a heavy percussive swing, with the melodic accompaniment of cavaquinho, guitar,  and even trombone, as well as various singers singing enredos (traditional styled Carnaval samba anthems).Batucada first played at Uma Nota in 2009, one of the heaviest shows we ever put on at the Gladstone. We recently saw  Batucada play in Montreal to a pumped-up crowd at Parc Jean-Drapeau. A sneak peak of their rehearsal last week impressed the hell out of me. They are cooking up some new stuff and their energy at the moment is pretty hype. Batucada Carioca play the Uma Nota 5-year anniversary at the Great Hall Friday July 27. 

QuiQue Escamilla Crosses All Bridges

It was at The Dakota tavern that I first saw Quique Escamilla play, and he killed it. People were bumping to his songs and his band was in the pocket. Jose Ortega, the artistic director/owner of Lula Lounge, was also there, and he noticed me grooving to the sound. I said to him that I was really impressed with Quique's style, fresh, familiar, yet somehow not pretentious or cheesy,  and he even seemed to have a hipster following! Jose looked at me and responded "yeah, he crosses all the bridges." At that moment I knew it would be wicked to have Quique on board for an Uma Nota show.In our world, almost no one has just one form of musical influence. It's basically impossible. In a city like New York, São Paulo, Paris, Toronto, or any multicultural city, we may all have our frame of musical reference, but we can appreciate and take the best of all the musical forms that cross our paths. We in the big urban centres of the world are highly internationalized. We have reggae. We have Latin rhythms like cumbia  and son. We have the global influence of Brazilian music. We have rock & roll and we have blues music. We hear music through our national references, our friends, the radio, parties, the internet, etc. ...And every once and a while a musician comes around that "crosses all those bridges" and brings the sounds together for a fine mix and audible feast that can be appreciated by all. We have seen this with many great troubadours, from Bob Marley and  Calle 13 to Manu Chao. In the Tdot, we have Señor Escamilla and we are now in the "summer of Quique." He recently opened up for Spearhead  at the Luminato Festival and has developed quite a name for himself with his musical talent and the ease in which he speaks with the crowd, switching it up from Spanish to English without any problems.Quique's story is a beautiful one. He started singing at age four in Chiapas at family reunions and away he went. Now  he is in TO and we are happy to have him."In spite of the distance from his homeland and his people, he still remains very attached to his roots, culturally and musically influenced, and very much inclined to support through his music diverse social causes such as; human and civil rights, immigration reform, global conservation, anti-racism, discrimination and other political issues." - Quique's bio on the CBC Music website. Wicked. You can also listen to some of his songs here. Quique performs July 27th at the Uma Nota 5 year anniversary party. Check out an interview (in Spanish) at the recent Luminato show; the sound of his band is also wicked.