Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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Lua Nova, Last Night in Brazil

November 18, 2015

Lua Nova jam session

Lua Nova jam session

NO, I don’t mean “last night,” by that headline. I mean, “my last night,” in Brazil. I took me three days to get back from Brazil to Paris thanks to Air France having one of the engines on the flight across the Atlantic not really work, and we had to go back to Sao Paulo and spend half the night on the runway while they tried to repair it, and the other half of the night in a Holiday Inn…. But that’s another story. I put up my new Thumbnail Guide to Sao Paulo open mics BEFORE I put up this little report of attending the Lua Nova open mic and jam….

And usually I do things in the order in which they happened, but this time, I just wanted to get that guide up before anything. Now, the Lua Nova open mic, as I mention in my Thumbnail Guide to Sao Paulo open mics, is a fabulous evening in Sao Paulo on Sunday nights, and it usually goes on all night long. It is a combination jam session, open mic. But mostly a jam session, and mostly for Brazilian music.
Jamming at the Lua Nova jam in Sao Paulo.

It has moved from one location to another over the years, almost annually, because despite Brazil seeming like a music-loving country, it’s no different than anywhere else in the world, the neighbors always find the time to complain about music in bars. Now the Lua Nova crowd have found a very neat bar concert venue that appears entirely cut off from crappy neighbors, still in the Pinheiros, Vila Madelena area.
More jamming at the Lua Nova jam in Sao Paulo.

And the music is still as fabulous – but now the venue has a lot more space than before, so it gets very, very full of spectators, dancers, musicians and others….

Worldwide Open Mic Thumbnail Guide: Sao Paulo Edition

January 31, 2014

Sao Paulo skyline

Sao Paulo skyline

For my 22d city installment of my worldwide open mic guide today I am loading my Sao Paulo page. As a reminder, it all started with my now very popular Thumbnail Guide to Paris Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music, and due to that guide’s success, I decided this year to do a similar guide for each of the cities I travel to during my worldwide open mic tour.

Sao Paulo’s Hidden Open Mic/Open Jam Scene in the Middle of the Land of Bossa Nova

Brazil, as most people know, is a musical country, famous for the distinctive sounds of bossa nova and samba and many other styles. It all came very much alive in the 1960s with the Tropicália music movement that transformed traditional Brazilian music – and other arts – into a pop-rock form. One of the most influential bands was the São Paulo-founded Os Mutantes, which, over the decades, would influence many musicians – including David Byrne and Beck. And there were people like Joao Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim, and even people like Stan Getz, the American jazz sax player, who helped popularize the music in the west. So you would expect that Sao Paulo would be a vibrant open mic, or especially, open jam, city. But for the foreigner to step into this capital of Brazil of 20 million people and try to find an open mic or jam, it just is not so easy. The city is, yes, very much alive with music. It is just bubbling with music everywhere, from single singers with guitars in small bars and restaurants, to venues with larger stages and play areas that put on special events and live music of all kinds. But there is soooo much live music that there is practically – and I say “practically” – no need for the open mic or jam. They do exist, but in general, they are put on at the drop of a hat, in a neighbourhood bar or restaurant, with no prior planning, and mostly among friends. As I mention in my guide, there is a Brazilian equivalent of the open mic, called the Sarau, but it is not always easy to predict where one may arise….

Worldwide Open Mic Guide Philosophy

The only guide I am really in a good position to update regularly is that of Paris, since I live there. But I decided to do guides to all the other more than 20 cities on my worldwide open mic tour in order to give the knowledge I have personally of each city’s open mics. The guide has links to sites I know of local guides that may be more up-to-date, but I have chosen to list the open mics or jam sessions that I have played in myself. There may be others that I know of, but if I have not played there, I will not include it on the list. That way, the user learns a little of my own impressions. But I cannot be as certain that the guide is up-to-date – so check before you go.

So here, now, in any case is the Thumbnail Guide to Sao Paulo Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music. Please do help me whenever you have information to give me on venues.

Good Synchronicity on the Airplane, Weird Experience in Sao Paulo

November 4, 2010

Just a first word to kick off my visit to Sao Paulo. I had the second most uncomfortable flight I’ve ever had on the way here as I had an elephant man sitting on my left in the airplane, and a tall and large – but very friendly and interesting – man sitting on my right. We all had broad shoulders, and the result was that with me in the middle seat (in economy) it was PAINFUL having my arms pressed in against me all flight, especially for trying to eat.

Bar restaurant in Sao Paulo that I caught in action as I passed by last night

Bar restaurant in Sao Paulo that I caught in action as I passed by last night

Having said that, I noticed at one point that the man on the right was watching a film on the inflight system, and it was the recent The Doors documentary. So I immediately sought it out and watched this very interesting documentary with just original film footage and no interviews, and narrated by Johnny Depp. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it was quite strange (when you’re a stranger) to watch this on the same flight in which I had begun reading the MOJO article about The Doors in the edition celebrating the 60th anniversary of Elektra Records. Synchronicity.

Arriving in Sao Paulo, however, I had a first experience that feels less than promising, and even a little weird. I was dead tired but decided to check out a bit of the territory for my musical adventure by visiting some of the places I played at last year. The best venue of all last year was a small bar in the Pinheiros area, on Rua Artur de Azevedo. It was called Lua Nova, or New Moon, and I stumbled across the bar on my last night in Sao Paulo last year and played in a jam session there with Brazilian musicians from 11 PM to 4:30 AM.

It was a dream come true, an idyllic evening. So last night I sought out the place just to make sure there would be another jam this Sunday, if not before. Guess what? I could not only not find the place, but I saw no building, store or other structure that bore any resemblance to it. I KNOW that I attended a jam there Lua Nova bar jam session in Sao Paulo in 2009. (Bad quality, but listen right to the end where you get the wonderful voices of the women singing…. I have another recording but it is more than 20 minutes long….)

But no, it disappeared almost as if I had never been there, as if it was a figment of my imagination or as if I had been in the Twilight Zone. But I will not give up. I will continue to look again, and perhaps with a little luck, I will find that this blissful location appears once a week only out of thin air for the weekly jam session – or perhaps it only appears on the night of the Lua Nova….

In any case, I continued my exploration of the streets of Sao Paulo and as I made my way back to my hotel I heard live music emerge from an Irish Pub called the All Black. So I went in and found a group playing both Brazilian music and pop-rock standards. I asked the band if they knew where I might find a jam session or open mic, and I got a dirty look in return. Oh well, better luck tonight! (Having said that, a client who saw I had a guitar asked me what I played and I in return asked her about any bars she might know where I could play, and she and her friend gave me a short list of possibilities – we’ll see….)

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