Lessons From Musical Instruments

When I am happy, sad, alone, with friends, at home, travelling… my instruments are always with me. The cavaquinho, the small brazilian instrument near the Ukulele, has gone through some very hard times. It was bought by my grandfather in 1978, it has been broken, thrown away, picked up from the garbage, rebuilt… and still sounds amazing! It will never leave my sight again, that I can tell you!

I think everyone goes through hard times from time to time, goes to hell and back, but can we manage to come out of it much better than before? Well, from the lessons from my cavaquinho: Yes, we can, but we can never do it alone. There are people who will break us and throw us away, but there will be others who will pick us up from the garbage in pieces, help us heal bit by bit, until we can be put back together to bring joy to everyone.

The cavaquinho is full of scars now. With each of these scars comes a story, which all together, comes out beautifully with a unique tone.

Maybe there is a lesson there for all of us…

Montjuïc, Barcelona

Barcelona, how can I forget? The moment that you stepped into the room you took my breath away…..

How I wish I was old enough to have seen Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé performing this song at Montjuïc… and how I wished Freddie Mercury hadn’t passed on at all, much less before the opening of the 1992 Olympic Games. Truly, a place where amazing things happened!

First music video post: Coração Leviano – Paulinho da Viola

For a long time, I wanted to have a channel where I play the guitar and sing my favourite songs, but never had the courage, as I am very self-conscious of my voice… well, I will let you be the judge of that. This is one of my favourite sambas. Hope you enjoy it!

Anyone for Flamenco??? Granada, Spain

Hi all!

Sorry for my brief absence! Together with some holidays, PhD thesis writing etc, I haven’t really had the time to post anything… well, I hope I will have some more time now!

Well, I just came from holidays (about one month ago) around Spain and I decided, together with the old ball and chain, to visit Granada. Well, I always wanted to go over really as I’ve never heard anything bad about the place. Well, nothing could have prepared me for what I saw… what a beautiful place! The Alhambra was probably the most beautiful castle I’ve even seen, just completely different from anything I’d ever seen!

As any visitor in Granada, Flamenco is a must-do! There is no way you can pass a show! I decided to go to this little restaurant called Jardines de Zoraya in the old neighbourhood of Albayzin. Then I found out it is, according to Trip Advisors reviews, the fourth best restaurant in Granada! Amazing!!!! Definitely recommended! And the Flamenco show, just incredible! The dancers, guitarrists, singers…. perfect!

Can’t wait to have the chance to go again!

I’m lonely in London London is lovely so!

One of my favourite places in the world, London just has everything a person may (or may not) want! Even though I live ridiculously close to it, I must say it has been a while since I’ve been there and, to be really honest, I really miss it!

It is probably the only place in the world that never ceases to amaze me. I’ve been there (as a tourist) well over 100 times and, every single time, I see the same places with completely different eyes, from a different angle that makes it completely different. Maybe none of you will understand me or have a place in the world that you can go many times and still be amazed everytime, well, London is my place!

During the Brazilian Military dictatorship, a very famous brazilian musician called Caetano Veloso was exiled in London, where he composed the following song, that really speaks to me!

Maybe I should do a video with me singing the song…

Mourne Mountains, Co. Down – Ireland

As my summary tells, I am a PhD student, but what it doesn’t is that I was born and raised in Brazil, educated in Ireland (when I spent my adolescence and most of my adult life), but had to move to the UK to pursue something bigger and better. Well, typical irish story, right? Ireland not doing so well, so move to the UK, why not? So this place, in particular (not where I used to live), speaks to me, mainly because of the song by Percy French, “Mountains of Mourne” (Don McLean’s interpretation, my favourite!). It tells the story of an irishman who moved to London and saw the wonders of the place, but was always longing for home. Doesn’t matter what London had to offer, he would rather be back “to the place where the dark Mourne sweeps down to sea”. Well, this pictures speaks way more than one thousand words. I miss Ireland.

And it finally happened!!!

For many years, I managed to get tickets for the for some of the world’s best gigs.. U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Simon and Garfunkel’s Reunion, David Bowie, Dylan, McCartney, Harrison, The Police… but I never managed to get tickets to the most wanted of them all… the Rolling Stones. I’ve been chasing that pot o’gold since 1997 Bridges to Babylon tour. Yes, I was a very young Rolling Stones fan. Tickets have never been the most affordable and there were not adults who were willing to take me. What could I do? Ever since then, I’ve been trying to get a hold of a ticket. Sao Paulo, Rio, Dublin, London, Madrid… even Bangkok! Never managed to get a hold of a ticket! In 2006, if I recalled correctly, they played a free concert at Copacabana Beach, where 1.5 million people attended… and I wasn’t there, because I had a fluid mechanics exam. A few times, I queued for several hours, just to find out later that the ticketmaster shop in Ireland opened their doors late. Before opening to the general public, employees were printing tickets for their friends for a profit. When they opened to the public, only the first 5 people in the queue managed to buy them. I was about the tenth in line. I thought that my destiny was to never see them live, after all, 50 and counting, they might be pushing the limit!

The search for the treasure is over! Just 5 minutes ago, I managed to buy 2 tickets for their concert! I am so happy! Rolling Stones, live at Hyde Park, here I come! (With a Bruce Springsteen bonus the week before!)

Salvador (And Itapuã Beach) – Bahia – Brasil

What really to say about this place… having gone there and driving through it countless times, I still haven’t formed an opinion about it. Salvador is a beautiful city, if you know where to go really. In parts, you see beaches that you could only dream of and, other, utter poverty and carelessness. The main touristic centre, the Pelourinho, is literally falling apart. It is beautiful for tourists that are unaware of the problem, but it doesn’t take long for them to realize the truth behind the beautifully, newly painted building facades, with the building in the background crumbling. Well, Pelourinho is a Unesco World Heritage Site, so this alone attracts many tourists. But being trapped inside a restaurant because of the children begging you for money, becoming in some cases even aggressive, makes you think twice about going back! THe Pelourinho is home to the Church of St. Francis. It’s altar alone had more than 700kg of gold in decorations, symbolizing the once rich Brazilian capital. That’s all gone now and has been gone for a long time. This doesn’t mean that the place is horrible and you can find many beautiful places, with beautiful people! I liked Salvador, was very well received and have even considered living there. The beaches surrounding the city are incredibly beautiful (such as Flamengo beach, which is just amazing, where you really get to interact with the locals) and the farther you get away from the metropolitan area, the more beautiful they get! Well, the northeastern coast of Brazil is just amazing!

There is a particular song in Brazilian Popular Music called Tarde em Itapuã. It is an amazing song that every brazilian knows and has grown to love. It portrays probably the most amazing beach in the world, where all the problems go away. Maybe I was wrong to create expectations about it, but I was severely disappointed. Well, I think everyone who based their expectation on the song were too (I have checked that…). It is a beautiful beach, but in a very run down neighbourhood, but I was very scared with the warning people gave me… don’t go towards the ends of the beach. One of the most famous parts of the beach is the lighthouse… but “don’t go there! You will most likely get robbed… don’t go towards the other end of the beach either… that’s where the low lifes hand out”… so just stay in the middle, near the tents (where you will taste the best Acarajé in Brazil!) and you will be fine, so I was told! I enjoyed my visit and since I didn’t know the place, I took all the advice I was given by heart and don’t regret it! Even though I didn’t have many nice things to say, I still recommend a visit! Just like every place, go and have your own experiences and make up your own mind!

Just a quick photo and the song… makes you want to go too, doesn’t it?

P.S. Toquinho is my favourite musician (the guy on the left…), but I absolutely hate how easy he makes guitar playing look…


Rock in Rio vs Glastonbury

For many years, I tried to attend as many concerts as I possibly could, but concert of individual bands, so that I could get in, listen to what I paid to listen and enjoy the concert to the maximum, before it got dull. Now, music festivals are the thing… getting more bang for your buck! With the surge of new “old” music festivals and proper old festivals still going strong, I think to myself what is causing this phenomenon of more frequent music festivals in countries with booming economy mainly about Brazil. The booming economy and access to credit is the obvious answer, but why, with so much money floating around, organizers of Rock in Rio came up with such a bad line up.

Rock in Rio is an old music festival, first held in Rio de Janeiro in 1985. What an amazing festival it was, but it is a pity I can only read about it! Queen, James Taylor, Ozzy, Yes, Nina Hagen, Iron Maiden… not to count the amazing brazilian performances of Barao Vermelho, Moraes Moreira, Rita Lee, Os Paralamas do Sucesso… well, the list goes on and on. It is the largest music festival by number of attendees up to date in the world, even larger than Woodstock.

After this festival, there were another two, in 1991 and 2001. Maybe things were not so profitable in the homeland and the festival moved to almost biannual dates in Lisbon and Madrid since 2004. As we all know, the Brazilian economy just boomed since the near collapse of the eurozone and the country became one of the focal point for investments in several areas and a hotspot for celebrity tourism. All of a sudden, the country everyone was afraid to visit became the cool place to visit. With companies paying hollywood celebrities to show their faces in carnaval, music festivals and Copacabana beach, well, every brazilian wanted to get close to that! Now, brazilians were paying small fortunes to be in the same environment as Paris Hilton, Gerard Butler and Jude Law. It was a good thing that many powerful man saw how carelessly the general population were willing to spend to see people and events they could only see if they went to the US or Europe. Well, who doesn’t want to go to Beyonce’s concert and meet Kim Kardashian? hehehehe… what a bad combination, but well, the organizers probably won’t see the concerts, they are just giving people what they want at a very inflated price! Why not? As long as it is not coming out of my pocket (prices are R$260 per day, around £85). I won’t even comment on the line-up, expect for the last day, it is just awful! All for the profit on the one single organizer who own the name Rock in Rio! Noone benefits from this expect the sponsors… and the people who got into massive credit cards debts just to attend this horror!

Wait a minute… Glastonbury sponsors also benefit from the profits, don’t they? Oxfam, Wateraid and Greenpeace. I just mentioned the two because they are amongst the largest music festivals in the world, if not the two largest. I like Glastonbury, I like the idea of Glastonbury! I am not saying they always have the best line-up in the world, but just the idea that I am helping charities is a push for me to attend the festival! But that is just me! Tickets for Glastonbury are/were going for £205 (just for comparison, around R$625… but for all the 5 days). This means that five days of Glastonbury buys you a bit less than three days of Rock in Rio. If you are lucky, you get a ticket for the last day of Rock in Rio and get to see the Boss play, or you play for Glastonbury and are sure to at least see the Stones! But the lineup goes beyond that! Elvis Costello, The Smashing Pumpkins, Mumford & Sons… can’t go wrong!

This is just a quick rant… I don’t like the idea of Rock In Rio nor the hardship I see friends of mine going through just to catch a glimpse of this. Some being in debt for good few months… well, that’s not the organizers fault! I know! But given the number of attendees during the festival, the prices could definitely be a wee bit lower. If you are paying that much for a ticket, I would at least like to see a Led Zeppelin reunion or something!