Brad Spurgeon's Blog

A world of music, auto racing, travel, literature, chess, wining, dining and other crazy thoughts….

Lua Nova, Last Night in Brazil

November 18, 2015
bradspurgeon

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 Journey 2014: The Multimedia Consolidation – Brazil

December 8, 2014
bradspurgeon

Sao Paulo skyline

Sao Paulo skyline

My worldwide open mic journey began in China in 2008 after the Formula One race in Shanghai, and little did I know that it was a journey that would continue for six more years and cover most of the globe, every continent except Africa (where I once lived and played music in an open mic decades earlier) and Antarctica, and that it would spawn a book, a blog, an album, a documentary film, numerous podcasts, music videos and other multimedia projects.

This year, 2014, I have decided to finish all of the projects and tie them together into a consolidation of multimedia. As part of my personal impetus to gather it all together for myself, but also put it into perspective on this blog, I have decided to create a page for each city I have visited on the journey, tying together samples of the whole multimedia adventure linked to that city.

So here is the page devoted to tying together the pieces of the open mic adventure that I have lived in Sao Paulo since I first started.

Worldwide Open Mic Thumbnail Guide: Sao Paulo Edition

January 31, 2014
bradspurgeon

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.

Last Day in Sao Paulo, Amazing Jam at the Varal Bar With the Lua Nova Crowd

December 1, 2011
bradspurgeon

bar varal sao paulo

bar varal sao paulo

It is nearly 4 AM on Thursday and I finally have the time to write down a little bit about the most amazing last evening that I had in Sao Paulo, where I finished my 2011 adventure around the world going to the open mics and jam sessions. The last night was so great that I am still recovering from it.

I had a fabulous session at Bar Varal in Pinheiros with the same group of people who I met and played with in 2009 and who I managed to miss in the freakiest way last year. This group of musicians both amateur and profession gets together every Sunday in Sao Paulo to play from around 10:30 PM to 5:30 PM, has moved around the city some five to seven or so times in the last couple of years, so you have to make sure not to lose touch with them!

The first year I stumbled on the place in the Lua Nova bar and jammed all night, then last year I stumbled on the place in another bar in the same area, but had no idea that I had found it and I walked out without jamming, and this year I planned it all in advance after befriending one of the participants on Facebook.

I had an even better time this year with the musicians who played at the Varal. The bar is much better than the Lua Nova, which was a tiny hole in the wall bar. The Varal is on the second floor of a discreet building, and if you did not know it was there and you passed by at opening when there is no music in the air, you’d never know it was anything but a private residence outside.

Once inside, though, this is a very warm and cosy bar with high ceilings with wooden beams, and with photos of Brazilian musicians on the walls and other pictures, and with a long bar in the back and a drum set in the corner at the front by the windows. Tables are set up side by side to permit people to join the open jam.

This year there were three microphones, the regular guitar player, and a few more who came in to play guitar, percussion and sing. It was free, open and more amazing as the evening progressed. I was a little worried at first as there was practically no one there at 10:30 PM. By 1 AM it was kicking, both with the people playing music and the audience that sang along.

I met a lot of interesting Brazilian musicians, and made some friendships I’m sure will continue. I also had a great time playing my own song, Borderline, and some cover songs – it was such a huge contrast to the rest of the evening’s hip and cool Brazilian music, but people enjoyed what I did it seemed, and they sang along.

Speaking outside with some of the musicians I asked why there were not more such open jams in Sao Paulo, and one of them told me that it was difficult to promote such things and they kept on getting closed down because of the loudness of the music going all night long. But he said that they all keep on getting back together because it answers a need. Mostly, he said, the jams are started in discreet bars by friends, and they grow into jams of friends of friends and friends of those… no advertising as such is done, and if you don’t know people involved in them, you don’t find them very easily…. That’s for sure!

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