What an honor to play with these drummers. I feel fortunate to know Dudu through Brazil Camp and we were lucky to have him come to San Diego to lead workshops. He and the other directors welcomed the few of us Americans and made us feel at home. The rehearsals are fun and well structured and productive. Sticks and straps all in organized containers, drums lined up in order, directors for each section with clear signals. Very impressive. Wicked rhythms. I did my research and studied up in advance, plus Dudu lead a repique sectional, but I still wish I could have had one more rehearsal, especially since I couldn't hear the singers during rehearsal. And then there was a parade!
It wasn't really a parade but a standing show. It was worlds different from parading with the Bambas do Catete which was a crazy (and fun) chaos in the street. The 100-piece Banga bateria was sectioned off by a cord from the 60,000 member crowd. 60,000! We couldn't see too far while playing but on our walk back we could see how far the masses really reached. Amazing energy from both the crowd and bateria kept growing exponentially. We had a bit of shade for a minute but soon the sun was overhead and blasting. That plus strong fumes from the trio electrico truck stage behind us made for an intense 2.5 hours.
Carl from Boulder was rocking some repique calls and a few of them did an awesome repique feature together. I made sure I could see Carl because there was so much material to remember and he had it down. I knew a good amount though and didn't step in any holes thank goodness. We pulled off the choreography that the Austin Samba School called the munchkin march in their carnaval this year. Every time we played a frevo the crowd exploded. Whenever there was a lost child the singer would announce it and say to the mom "your child is here, come to the stage but be calm and don't worry, he's in the house of Banga and he's with family waiting for you."
Water and beer were passed around the whole time even while we were playing. This group is serious players, but it is carnaval after all. My beer got kicked over after a minute and the poor guy next to me forgot he had a full one in his pocket when we crouched down. We need those beer holder drum straps!
At one point I looked around and saw the Cristo Redentor statue in the background. I have some sort of spiritual connection with that statue which reminds me of my love affair with the Eiffel Tower. In Paris the tower would peek out from behind buildings and remind me that I know I'll be back again. Here in Rio the statue reminds me to take a moment and remember where I am and to be present and grateful. What a nice moment to look around and realize that this for real! Thanks to Banga for letting me be a part of the wonderful projects they have going on.
Here's a great video with some footage, interviews of Dudu and Jacare, and a couple brief photos where you can see me for a sec!