All of the choro musicians I've encountered in Rio have been really good, but this was a different ball game. It wasn't a roda or an open group playing publicly, it was more of a concert in front of an attentive audience. These cats were pros and I was mesmerized. They weren't reading charts and were barely even looking at each other but somehow still communicating intensely. Paulo Sergio got up and wailed effortlessly on some tunes to the cheering crowd. Then it was my turn. I walked to the stage and set up my big gringo binder on a flimsy music sand and adjusted the mic which resulted in a bunch of feedback. They asked what few songs I wanted to play and my words came out in French. Well at least I know the French is still in there. I played with energy, was able to communicate little intros and outros, took turns, and played a couple of ok solos. But I didn't play cleanly or with enough confidence, and the more I tried to tear my face from the book and make eye contact, the more mistakes I made. I felt out of place and felt that I had embarrassed myself. Paulo Sergio took a risk inviting me to play not having heard me and I didn't want to let him down. I spent the rest of the evening doubting my abilities as a musician and questioning what I'm doing here.
Maybe it sounds like a dramatic reaction, but this was also at the end of my trip and height of my exhaustion. Near the end of the night I looked out the window right up into the Arcos da Lapa and reminded myself to get present again and remember where I am, in Rio listening to some incredible music. I don't need to have all the answers figured out yet. It's been a busy trip and I've jumped out of my comfort zone into a lot of great learning opportunities in a new language. I decided I need to pat myself on the back for putting myself out there with an open heart. And this evening was also a wake up call reminder of what I need to work on musically when I get home. The last song they played was 'Receita de Samba' and I got up and danced.