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Bahia, Brazil 2012

8th Festival Internacional de Artistas de Rua da Bahia
Small town interior Bahia, Brazil, O Sertaõ,
long distances, dry matorral, the festival is 28 of us rolling in a luxury bus. Constantly hot and sunny, warm even in the middle of the night, lots of flowers, tropical fruit and coconut water. The Brazilian lifestyle is hours laughing and drinking beer or fruit juices at plastic tables outdoors. Music everywhere, fantastic food, more live music in the back of the bus then I usually get in a month back home.

Music in the back of the bus.

In Sobradinho, the smallest town, the people did not know how to be an audience, everybody seemed to be leaving in the middle of the show and then coming back again, over and over, yelling random stuff. Yet as soon as the show was over I was pestered for autographs non-stop until I finally hid in the backstage.

In Juazeiro all the foreigners except Rocky and me got sick. Well I got a little bit of the shits but as long as I spend 11 hours a day in bed and drink water all the time then I’m fine.

In Juazeiro and Paulo Afonso I had fantastic shows, warm audiences, lots of improv, people loved us. I can do my show in Portuguese. Hamilton form Grup Barlavento said the Portuguese in my show sounded good and my ‘sentences were well constructed. Whoo!  I can even socialize in Portuguese. Sort of. Sometimes. Not Really.

In Paulo Alfonso
Bernard, our faithful leader

Our cast, Bernard, German one-man band speaks fluent Portuguese and Selma Santo, laughing actress extraordinaire are the festival directors.

Daniela, sweet and beautiful all the time, which helps because she’s the one telling us to be ready with our gear for a school show at 9:00 as we pull into the hotel at 2:00 AM. She has been instructed to speak Portuguese with me.

A bella Daniela
Jann, and Marina and Anne from Chickiboom. Coconut and a straw everyday!

Jan Djuggledy, my buddy, we met in Berlin, then in Aosta, Italy,  then passed a few weeks in tight company in Chile and now in Brasil. In between Chile and Brazil (while I went home to Oregon) he travelled all the way to Bolivia just so he could do one street show at 11,000 feet of altitude. He has the perfect street show as a rasta clown diabolo whiz. But the big guy was brought down hard in Bahia, a week tied closely to the porcelain throne and three times brought to the hospital to rehydrate. We speak Spanish together.

Chickiboom in action

The rest of the Spanish crew is compromised of Adrian, a funny Argentine puppeteer and ChikBoom who sing such subtly phrased 3 part jazz a-cappella harmony, very much like the Stolen Sweets.

Adrian and me.

The English speaking crew is Pieter, a magician from Budapest and Rocky, a master blues player who made his name doing a Robert Johnson shows and played with some of the great blues legends. He’s got to be 60 but he’s the only gringo who doesn’t get sick, cuz he’s tough.

Rocky Lawrence playing the blues

And Tora, our visual artist. Her racial mix, jewish, African, and Native American makes her look Brazilian but she hails from Brooklyn.

Tora, artist extraordinaire

Mauricio, Mustapha, from Salvador does a hilarious magic show in which he performs zero magic.

The amazing Mustapha, Mauricio. He hosted us a wonderful night in Salvador.
Barlavento with Davison and Hamilton up front

Grupo Barlavento plays a variety of Brazilian music styles with rthym and subtlety.

Giovanni

Giovanni, a tall man with a perfectly muscular body, a dancers grace and gorgeous deep voice does a one-man Caproiera show. In real life he isa  modern dance choreographer and the sexiest 50 year man alive.

Monique, a fire-spinner and mystic right from Juazeiro. And Danni and a small army of super fun production assistants, and many more too.

Color me cowboy kids!

9 days rolling through the dry Sertaõ with this gang, loading, unloading, big street shows, and crazy school shows, playing music, beers and long chatty waits for food in restaurants.  Switching from Portuguese to Spanish to English and back.

The huge muddy Sao Francisco river.  A walk across it to Pernambuco (Chico Science!, Eddy!) with Hamilton and Davison. I did some great bird spotting too on that river too.  Aah thank you people I have a great time.  Brazil!

Portland vs. Barcelona Cultural War! Rounds one and two.

Portland versus Barcelona, mano a mano.  Rules:  it has to be live, and you have to be my friends.

Fight #1 Who has the funkiest Marching Band in the World?

The studio versions of Smells Like Teenage Spirit and Anarchy in the UK by the Always Drinking Marching Band from Barcelona were my favorite songs on the planet for two months, the best cuban jazz street brass band versions of those songs ever. I played them every day. And they do fabulous street theater with music, as I saw them in Linz.  Let’s check out a street version of Teen Spirit.

But then there’s my beloved March Forth Marching Band, a much bigger show, funkier, and 25 great original songs and 5 years of full-time club touring ahead of Always Drinking. My only question: They always rock the house like nobody, but how often these days do they swing it like they do in these two songs:

Score: Portland 1, Barcelona 0

Round 2, The greatest female jazz vocal group: The Stolen Sweets versus El Trio Chickaboom. How do two times three woman on opposite sides of the planet both manage to sing 3 part jazz harmony with as much precision and innovation as the Boswell Sisters themselves? –who after all were actual sisters and child prodigies.

Let’s hit streets again so you can see the kind of vocal precision the Trio Chickaboom deliver right on the street. Make sure you stay until the scat arrangements in the middle.

I had recently the pleasure of touring two weeks in Brazil with Trio Chickiboom which was just miserable.

I got to see them at the famous MAM Jazz Jam session in front of 2000 in Salvador.

We touristed.

You don’t have to be a boyfriend of the Chickiboom to have a great time, (I don’t know how somebody reaches that exalted position) just tagging along with them is amazing, they get invited to everything that is cool and fun. One does have to follow marching orders occasionally, but well worth it.

The Chickiboom are essentially an accapella vocal group, but Portland’s Stolen Sweets are a joining of three (more) talented and beautiful woman with a Pete Krebs/David Langeness jazz trio. I’ve had the extreme honor of being backed by the The Stolen Sweets in Wanderlust Circus Shows. (http://www.wanderlustcircus.com/) including performing Leapin’ Louie to this classicsong:

I will next be performing with them at the Alberta Rose Theatre in Portland April 7, be there or be bored!  https://www.albertarosetheatre.com/calendar.html

Ayyy las chicas van a matarme, pero bueno- The Pete Krebs backing pushes the Stolen Sweets over the  top. Score Portland 2, Barcelona 0

Check this space soon for Round 3 Gadjo (Barcelona) versus Trash Can Joe and Three Leg Torso (Portlanders) Unfair! Two band against one!

Cajon de Maipu

We hiked high in the Andes, at the top of the Cajon del Maipu, close to Santaigo, Chile.  With Chronopia, Jan Djuggledy, Otto Il Bassotto, Papi, and Melissa, the gang from the CalleArte Festival in in El Quisco.

Chile January 2012!

January 10

After 24 in airports and airplanes I arrive in Santiago, Chile and kiss the airport tiles.  El Kote is waiting for me and takes me in his decrepit hippie circus truck to his ultimate hippy circus house where there’s a cumbia band playing live to greet me under the trapeze rigging. There’s green starry leafed plants outside the shower.

Greeted by a cumbia band.

 

January 12-17  El Quisco

El Quisco is the closest beach to Santiago, for the poor working class who don’t have enough money to go further.   When you pass the hat at the end of the show you have to give them money says El Kote.  They’ve gone to a lot of trouble to organize the first ever El Quisco Street theater festival, them being El Kote, his brother Mao (also in the street performing business) the Los Tecai, a traveling puppeteering family.

Artists get ready for the opening Parade.

 

We’re sleeping in bunk beds in some very beat up cabanas a kilometer from the beach and we eat all our meals in a cheap family restaurant and they are freaking delicious, seafood every day, lots of everything.  We eat dinner at 1:00 AM after the shows are over and after that it really doesn’t take a lot of drinking and dancing to stay up all night.  A campfire under the Eucalyptus tree helps.

 

 

Jan (DJuggledy) gets into the vibe. He was a good friend on much of this trip.

 

 

The pitches are all on the beach and are large, except the gorgeous Punta de Tralque where the crowds are small but rocks and sunset make up for it.  The  festival is a success with big crowds, sometimes over a 1000 people at the pitch,, although true enough, the piles of coins they give don’t add up to much.  As is often the case in a new country (Chile is #25), it take me about three shows to find a rthym and put out a  good one.

The delightful Claudio- Frutillas Con Crema- on the Punta de Tralque pitch

 

As an international import I’m treated like a big deal, we’re considered key to making this festival fly, but really the top Chilean artists are better.  El Tuga, a clown master and organizer of Chile’s most successful street festival at age 27, our host, El Kote, an orginal clown and a force of nature and the Microbanda, a four person circus, well directed, with a fantastic  clown, Taillerin.  There are several ancient camping circus trucks at the cabins, like Europe 15 years ago.  El Kote’s funky truck drops dead as he tries to drive over the hills at full speed with 2000 pounds of  scaffolding and seating.

El Kote, a force of nature.

 

January 20-22

And we took a smaller version of that festival 6 hours North to Montepatria.  A valley packed with vinyards and hemmed in by big desert mountains.   We did fantastic shows for 500+ plus audiences in the main plaza of two tiny mountain towns.   They adored us.  We spent the nights in bunkbeds in an empty boarding school further up the valley,  absolutely nothing but a canyon full of grape fields and dry mountains.

A canyon of irrigated grapes, desert mountains above and that's it.

 

Our group is Chronopia, a v ery talented 22 year old with an international level contortionist act from Argentina, so light, happy, and easy in her energy.  Otto Il Bassotto, an Italian clown, a wonderfully cheerful and even naïve personality,  El Kote and his Italian girlfriend Melissa, and Los Tekai, who do a very funny puppet show, Juan Carlos, Roxanna, and 11 year old Nahauel.  For three decades they have travelled street shows to big towns and small towns all over Chile.

Chronopia takes her name from a Julio Cortazar short story.

 

Paolo -Otto il Bassotto- and me.
A big show in a tiny mountain town. Otto in his giant balloon.

 

January 23-25

I split off from the group and went the beach resort town of La Sirena to do street shows.

 

The Chilean street theater scene is very street.  There are great acts here and they play the street all the time, as do the not so great.  The main street here is like a juggling convention, only they are all performing for cars at the traffic lights.   Here 7 balls, the next light cigar boxes, the next light somebody manipulating a 3 foot cube of aluminium.  And so forth,  And all the best performers I’ve mentioned above did 3 or 5 or 7 years working the traffic lights as their apprenticeship.  Mauro, a fantastic clown and one-man band from Brazil  ( Compania OmPeDois) says he made twice as much money as his father ever made playing the traffic lights for four years but it was a trap after a while, drinking too much and doing 30 second shows over and over.  Now he works contracts in Brazil, but here in Chile there are few contracts and great acts are on the street.

Mauro (Compañía UmPédeDois) gets his rig ready.

 

The Plaza de Armas in La Sirena is filled with acts every night.  There’s a puppet show with a large stage, full sound system, and generator.  Two clowns with a technician, backdrop, full sound system, computer, and generator.  A four person circus I know from a cabaret in Santiago are doing a wonderful show with a full sound system and generator.  A fakir, a street Karaoke act, another puppeteer, a group of mimes (they get the biggest crowds) and me doing one show a night with my tiny speaker, staying at a comfortable hostal and getting burned on the beach.  Jan, Djuggledy,  who does a Diablo show dressed as reggae freak and kills on the street, joins me for the last night.

January 26-28  Back in Santaigo for Entepola, the largest festival of popular theater in Latin America, and by popular theater friends, they mean  good old fashioned leftist agitprop theater.  Wonderful people, interesting physical theater experimentation, although to tell the truth, not so entertaining for the public much of the time.  But they deliver me to some wonderful shows, 500 people in the square of a small town, a wonderful theater in a another small town, and over 1000 people in the audience at the home amphitheater of Pudahuel, a poor barrio in Santiago.  And they pay me a little too.  We live communally in a school, sleeping on mattresses in the classroom, eating together with Venezuelans, Brazilians, Argentinians, and of course Chileans.  We eat dinner at 1:00 AM each night after shows are finished.  And then if you stay for drinking and dancing afterward, well–.

Chronopia does a private show for some Entepola artists.

 

January 30.

Entepola heads North .  Dry desert mountains, and on and on.  The larger valleys have water and are filled with vinyards.  And finally, after all day loading and waiting and driving, we get to Salamanca,  surrounded by those dry mountains on all sides.

And 50 theater people pile into the one school dormitory, where we’ll all be sleeping for the next 5 nights and quickly grab up almost every bunk bed.  We’ll be crowded.  And of course these people like to play music, party, and stay up late, which is what we do next.  I go to bed early, 2:00 AM.  I think I’m the only one with earplugs.

 

January 31, 2012

You know the crowding doesn’t matter, I feel fine.  I finally have my travelling legs under me and I can enjoy the company and work on my things alone too,   Somehow I’ve found my own space to work better then I have all this trip.

 

I’ve got no show tonight.  Which is good because I played soccer really hard in the heat and never quite recovered afterward.  I was perhaps the worst player on the cement  but I scored two goals both on headers .  I always play these games much too hard.  Ouch.

 

February 1

A show in a tiny grouping of farm houses called Chuchiñi.  The whole town comes out, about 60 people.  Before the show we stroll in the beautiful countryside and we do lasso photos of me on an old cart in front of the Cooperativa Agruicultura de Chuchiñi, where we do the show.

In front of our show at the Cooperativa Agricultura Chuchiñi.

New Website!

Hello World, I have switched my website over to wordpress.  You’ll probably find a few holes and sloppyness throughout early 2012 as Laurel Jones and I work on it.  But I think you’ll find the information is there.  Hello from Chile, South America where I’m touring festivals!