What's On in Salvador de Bahia

What's on In Salvador and Environs

Navigate Bahia-Online: Table of Contents

Lodging in Salvador: Apartments and Guesthouses

"What you are hearing is nothing more, and nothing less, than the unadulterated joy of simply being alive..."

What's on (and the intensity of what's on) in Salvador tends to ride a seasonal wave, with the wave cresting during Carnival and the trough coming during the (Brazilian) winter months of July, August, and September, after the June festivities have passed.  With the advent of October the wave -- of people seated outside at the simple streetside bars and moving on the dancefloors of places ranging from chic and sleek to rustic down home slapdash-- begins to build again.

So...

In addition to the personal annotations below I'm including a link here to Helder Barbosa's site Aldeia Nagô ("Nagô Village"; the Nagôs were a subgroup of Yorubas whose culture remains profoundly influential here in Bahia). This service depends on the musicians themselves putting up notices of their performances, so it is not all-inclusive, but it is nevertheless a good guide.

Below that link is online guide Agenda Pelourinho Cultural, courtesy of the state of Bahia.

Below both these links I'm including a link to the Google Translator. Non-Portuguese speaking users can copy and paste the relevant page's URL into the Google window and get a for-the-most-part understandable translation.

Aldeia Nagô's site is here: http://www.aldeianago.com.br/component/option,com_events/Itemid,40/

Agenda Pelourinho Cultural is here: http://www.pelourinho.ba.gov.br/

Google's translation page is here: http://translate.google.com/translate_t. Some of the translation can be pretty funny...for example, "a roda de choro", which means people sitting around playing the beautiful Brazilian musical style choro, or "cry", comes out "the wheel of wow". Now I like that!

Tuesday Nights in Salvador... Bahia-Online Recommends...

Gafieira Do Da Da!


Tuesday Nights in Barris, at the Beco de Rosália


Dadá

Great music in Salvador's neighborhood of Barris on Tuesday nights now...gafieira, Rio dancehall samba of the 1930s, with other sambas written before and after, and choros...wonderful stuff!

The name comes from the fact that the band (they're all friends) was organized by Dadá -- Adailson -- the trombone player...the band's name translating (for non-Portuguese speakers) to Dadá's Gafieria.

Barris is located in central Salvador (I live there), between Barra and Pelourinho, and the locale is the Beco de Rosália, set in a courtyard giving onto Barris's principal street (General Labatut), across from the Biblioteca Central (Central Library).

Cover is 5 reais, with cold beer, good cachaças, and excellent food on the premises.

Music starts at 8 p.m. and runs to 10 p.m. or so. Get off the tourist track and come to a real neighborhood! See you there!

Jequitiba'r in Rio Vermelho


Jequitiba'r, varanda of the Teatro Sesi in Rio Vermelho

Rua Borges dos Reis (the Orla or seafront road, which changes official names every few blocks), 9, in front of the Teatro Sesi | Rio Vermelho | 3334-4698 | Monday through Saturday, from 5 p.m. to midnight; music gets going around 9:30 p.m (if you're going on Friday it's a good idea to get there earlier if you want to get a table)

The Jequitiba'r is an open-air music club/restaurant situated in the varanda of the Teatro Sesi along the waterfront in Rio Vermelho. The tendency is toward extremely high-quality music on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, with a very reasonable cover charge of ten reais.

Artists/groups worth checking out here are Alexandre Leão and his band (grooving mpb), Grupo Mandaia (choro), and Barlavento (samba-de-roda).

Casa da Mãe in Rio Vermelho


Casa da Mãe, in Rio Vermelho

Casa da Mãe | Rua Guedes Cabral (Orla, seafront road), 81, em frente da Casa do Peso | Rio Vermelho | 3334-3041 | Friday & Saturday, from 9 p.m. (music starts around 10) to late

Casa da Mãe (Mother's House) is located across the street from the beach from where presents are taken out to Yemanjá (goddess of the seas) every February 2nd, hence the name. More specifically, it is located across from the Casa do Peso (Weighing House), where local fishermen take their catch to (obviously) have it weighed (em frente da Casa do Peso no Rio Vermelho would be a succint way to tell somebody where Casa da Mãe is located).


Casa do Peso (Weighing House)

The house is owned and run by Stella Maris, from Santo Amaro, and Stella (who sings) is part of wide circle of serious musicians, her Casa da Mãe being a very informal hangout for the same and featuring generally excellent music (with a cover charge of 7 reais or so).


Percussionist Badaga, singer Juliana Ribeiro (turban), and producer (Caetano Veloso, Maria Bethânia) Maurício Pessoa...12:30 a.m., July 31st, 2010

Good regional food, including moquecas and maniçoba, etc., at very reasonable prices.

À Proa Bar


Luciano Velame at his bar

À Proa Bar | Rua Guedes Cabral (Orla, seafront road), 81, right next to Casa da Mãe, em frente da Casa do Peso | Rio Vermelho | (71) 8888-8315 | Tuesday through Saturday, from 6 p.m.

À Proa sits right next door to Casa da Mãe and opens earlier, a small, cozy place with the ambience of a hip living room...a nice place just to hang out and enjoy drinks, good, inexpensive food (comida de boteco), and tasteful Brazilian ambient music. There's an open area out front with a view to the sea.

Nice place!

Aconchego da Zuzu


Dona Zuzu

Aconchego da Zuzu | Rua Quintino Bocaiúva, 18 | Fazenda Garcia |(71) 3331-5074 and 3331-8149 | Open Thursdays through Saturdays from noon to midnight, and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays

Aconchego da Zuzu (Zuzu's Cozy Place) is located in the bairro popular (working class neighborhood) of Garcia, where it is nestled in behind a wall running between two houses, occupying a plaza-like area. The name's intimation would indicate something on the small side, but the area the restaurant occupies is actually quite spacious and is felicitously presided over by an enormous mango tree. Dona Zuzu, at 103 years of age, doesn't cook or wait tables anymore, her extended brood attends to these chores, but the menu is hers and it features the classics of Bahian cuisine at extremely reasonable prices.

Friday and Saturday nights are given over to live music, Bossa Nova on Friday nights and Chorinho and MPB on Saturday nights, from 9:30 p.m (10 reais cover charge). This is an excellent spot and the place draws a good and well-behaved crowd from inside and outside the bairro. 

Bar Galícia in Pelourinho


Luiz Dórea...Nego Fua, the Rooster of Maciel (o Galo do Maciel)

Fua, a local legend and a sweet-tempered man, beloved by everybody in the community, is the toughest guy in Bahia (retired), with scars from knife-fights and bullets to prove it (a couple of years ago I personally saw him, aged and infirm, wade into a corner fight between two young guys, one armed with a knife, and break it up). He's lived at the corner of Rua Maciel de Cima (João de Deus) and Rua J. Castro Rabelo for 53 years, with his Bar Galícia (named for a football team) on the ground floor.

Friday nights, from 9:30 p.m. or so, are given over to samba (partido alto), with the place generally getting so packed by locals that they're almost falling out the doors (lots of people hang around outside). The band is good but the volume is iffy, sometimes way too loud and sometimes reasonable (loud enough for both dancing and conversation), and the bar is scruffy and spartan. The place and corner can be fun but security is a definite issue here and Fua, now well into his seventies, might be upstairs and not around to help if a situation comes up.

Botequim São Jorge

Botequim São Jorge | Rua Borges dos Reis, 16 (for some reason this is the official address, the back door; the entrance is really one street over, on Rua João Gomes) | Rio Vermelho | 3334-8181 | Monday through Saturday, from11:30 a.m. to the last customer; Sunday afternoons

Botequim São Jorge is a Rio-style establishment with live samba Friday and Saturday nights, and Sunday afternoons.

Galpão Cheio de Assuntos

Galpão Cheio de Assuntos | Rua Djalma Dutra, 40 | Sete Portas (actually, between the Dique de Tororó and Sete Portas...not far from Pelourinho | (71) 3322-3056 / 9991-7740 | Open Mondays from 7 p.m

Galpão Cheio de Assuntos (Warehouse Full of Themes) is basically what would be the parking area of Peu Meurray's house (Peu Meurray of the rolling drums-in-tires fame) and Tito Oliveira's recording studio if the area weren't done up and given over to music. This is a musicians' circle kind of place and is a hangout for a lot of world class players. There's a ten real cover charge.

 
Galpão Cheio de Assuntos

Ciranda Café

Ciranda Café | Rua Fonte do Boi, 131 | Rio Vermelho |(71) 3012-3963 | Open Tuesday through Sunday, from 11:30 a.m to 11:30 p.m.

Café, Cultura & Artes in Rio Vermelho

Tom do Sabor

Tom do Sabor | Rua João Gomes, 249 | Rio Vermelho | (71) 3334-5677 | Open Wednesday through Saturday, from 7 p.m to 2 a.m.

Tom do Sabor (Tone of the Flavor) is set inside a glass pyramid-shaped complex including another restaurant, a bookstore, another performing area, and whatnot, naturally referred to as a pirâmide. It's a behave-yourself place featuring generally excellent live music, with a 15 real cover charge, and a kitchen with a real chef turning out gourmet dinners which will set you back some 50 to 70 reais or so, not including entradas and drinks.

The Best Beach


Get your castanha de caju (cashews)!

The Best Beach | On the praia do Bogary | Ribeira | (71) 3494-7226/8726-8366

Ribeira's place for commercial party music...I haven't been there at night, a few beers into it and, depending, it might not be such a bad time!

Zauber

A funky mix-it-up DJ + culture + rockout kind of place at the bottom end of the Ladeira da Misericórdia in Comércio.

Nightly in Salvador, Monday Through Saturday

What: Balé Folclórico da Bahia 
Where: Teatro Miguel Santana in Pelourinho, at Rua Gregôrio de Mattos (also and originally called Rua Maciel de Baixo), 49
When: Monday through Friday, with the exception of Tuesdays
What Time: 8 p.m., duration one hour 
Entrance: 25 reais, half-price for students 
Notes:  This exuberant show should most definitely not be missed by anybody coming to Bahia!  It is an elegant, breathtakingly athletic exhibition of Afro-Bahian beauty and prowess, and in the small theater the audience almost melds into the space through which the dancers fly. 

Tickets at the door, but frequently the show sells out and so advance purchases of tickets may be made at the theater on show days, beginning at 2 p.m. during the week and 4:30 p.m on Saturdays.

Daily & Nightly in Salvador, Mondays Through Saturdays
A Plethora of Musical Richness at...


About Our Logo 

Where: Rua João de Deus, 22, in Pelourinho
What: Marvelous Brazilian music
What Time: From 10 a.m. 'til late, Monday through Saturday 
Telephone: 3321-0536
Entrance: All you gotta do is blow through the door.

 

Notes:  Well, this isn't a show or a dance or anything...it's Bahia-Online's record (CD) shop and budding production facility.  But there is much more than a mere measure of entertainment in here so I hope I won't be judged too harshly by its inclusion on a what-to-do page.  And between the sambas and the beaches, and whatever else you find to do here in Salvador, you may find it worth your while to spend an off-moment with us, and Cartola, and Ilê Aiyê, and Vinícius de Moraes, and Antonio Carlos Jobim, andRosa Passos, and Raimundo Sodré, and Maria Bethânia, and Bule-Bule, and João Gilberto, and Carlinhos Brown, andMargareth Menezes,  and Dorival Caymmi, and Caetano Veloso, and Ramiro Musotto, and Gilberto Gil, and Gal Costa, and Ary Barroso, and Luiz Gonzaga, and Paulinho da Viola...and even Luciano Calazans (below)!


The shop in Salvador...

Listen to Luciano Calazans

 

And in case you're wondering what the "Recôncavo" in the sign to the right is, it is the great concave-shaped region around the Bay of All Saints (Baia de Todos os Santos) where the majority of Bahia's sugarcane plantations were (and are) located. It was on these plantations that the Bantus brought unwillingly to Bahia would sing out, clap, and dance to their music -- a wonderful and uplifting music which would come to be called "samba-chula" or "samba-de-roda" and which would go on to become the national music of Brazil.


The location in Pelourinho...

Monday Nights

What: Choro
Where: In the Teatro Vila Velha, which is located in the Passeio Público on Avenida Sete de Setembro, close to Campo Grande. You go through the arch and straight back to the theater (blocky and unprepossessing)...the entrance is down an inclining walkway to the right as one is directly in front of the theater. Once inside one must wind around a bit to get to where the choro takes place, but that's where most of the activity in the theater is at that hour and so it's easy to find.
What Time: From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Entrance: 10 reais, 5 with student I.D.


Cacau do Pandeiro

Notes: Excellent choro played by a group of young musicians together with eighty-something year old pandeiro master Cacau do Pandeiro, and guest artists. The ambience of the room is kind of informal university theater, with a bar at the back where one can buy beer, soft drinks, snacks, etc. The crowd tends towards polite grey-haired heads (not rowdy grey-haired heads like mine and Cacau's).

What: Grupo Afro-Batá, Afro-Cuban-Candomblé-Samba music featuring Aloísio Menezes and Portela Açucar from Cortejo Afro.
Where: Pelourinho's Praça Tereza Batista
What Time: Begins at 9 p.m.
Entrance: Free
Notes: I haven't seen these guys yet, but their publicity says that their material includes songs by Nelson Cavaquinho and Geraldo Pereira, so as far as I'm concerned they get an automatic thumbs up!

What: Pimentinha
What Time:
 From 8 p.m.
Location: In Boca do Rio at Rua Dom Eugênio Sales, 11
How to Get There: By taxi.  From Barra or Pelourinho the fare should come to between 25 and 30 reais. 
Notes: A very strange bar run by an androgynous pai/mãe de santo (Anísio Augusto Pimenta Filho, nicknamed and hence Pimentinha) who ritualistically blesses patrons as they enter with water cast from shaken leaves. Live music, a group called Tropikola nowadays, playing salsa, merengues, cumbias, etc. (the group consists of Spanish-speaking Latin American immigrants to Salvador). Monday night is the big night here, and the only night.  Bizarre and popular.


Mural in front of Pimentinha

Tuesday Nights

What: Benção ("Blessing") 
Where: Pelourinho, of course!
What Time: Begins shortly after sunset
Entrance: None
Notes: The general Tuesday night madness in Pelourinho.  The first and last Tuesdays of the month are generally the biggest nights (that's when people get paid), and things also heat up as Salvador does in general moving into the Brazilian spring and summer.

Don't Miss Gerônimo and Banda Mont Serrat!...


Igreja do Passo (Paço)

 Part of the above, beginning at 8 p.m. or so and running to sometime between 10 and 11 p.m., is the live music on the steps leading up to the Igreja (Church) do Passo from the Ladeira do Carmo (the sloping street connecting Pelourinho to the neighborhood of Santo Antônio). Gerônimo (writer of É d'Oxum --a beautiful ijexá-based composition which has become Salvador's unofficial theme song -- along with a lot of other great material which has been recorded by a host of Brazilian greats) sets up a stage these nights at the bottom of the steps for a free show of music featuring his band Mont Serrat (top flight; great horn section, excellent rhythm section, killer jazz guitar!) and various friends who sit in, the steps serving as an amphitheater.  It's a really nice scene, and it's really nice that Gerônimo goes out of his way to do this -- the sound equipment is his own -- particularly in light of the fact that the coin he receives for his considerable efforts consists of nothing beyond the good will he and his compatriots garner.

The show opens with a padê to Exu -- the orixá responsible for opening the pathway allowing the other orixás to descend -- and closes with an homage to Oxossi (the hunter). It is extremely popular! (And being so, in addition to the very nice crowd it attracts, it also attracts pickpockets, so be suitably prepared!)


Gerônimo and Banda Mont Serrat

Listen to Gerônimo (from Agô - Cantos Sagrados do Brasil e Cuba)

Two interesting points about the steps: They were built over the church's ossuary, and they were the locale of an important scene (below) in the film O Pagador de Promessas ( The Payer - or Keeper - of Promises), which won the 1962 Palm d'Or at Cannes.


click to watch

Protagonist Zé do Burro after carrying his cross up the stairway in front of the Igreja do Passo, endpoint of an odyssey from the Bahian hinterlands made in fulfillment of a promise sworn to Santa Bárbara (syncretized with Iansã) on a terreiro de candomblé.

Clicking on the image will bring up an interesting segment of the film (the entire film is interesting!) taking place on this stairway on the day of the Festa de Santa Bárbara (to this day Pelourinho's biggest, taking place on the 4th of December).

And while you're there you might cast a glance a bit further up the hill to the yellow house at number 35.  A toddler by the name of Dorival Caymmi lived there before his family moved up to Itapoan.

Sankofa African Bar and Restaurant


DJ George in his club; owner, host, and just one of the Sankofa DJs

 

Sankofa is a West African word meaning "to take from the past and build on it", this being the impetus for Ghanian native and Bahian resident George's Pelourinho establishment of the same name. (George, being from Ghana, speaks fluent English, by the way, convenient for our Portuguese-impaired friends.)

Sankofa is open on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday nights, from 10 p.m. or so, and the multilevel club features hot dance music, African, Brazilian, and Latin, both live with crack bands and with DJs. There is a restaurant as well serving African dishes, with lunches (daily) of African and Bahian dishes priced at 10 reais.

The establishment is located right around the corner from Cana Brava Records, on Rua Frei Vicente 7, and the telephone there is 3321-7236.

The Friday night band is particularly hot...that would be Magary (the band's leader and singer) with his band Black Semba (semba is an Angolan musical style). Magary tore 'em up at the world's largest arts festival this year in Edinburgh, Scotland, (see below) and is now in Australia. But when the man is pack, he'll pack the place!


Magary (and Paloma!) at the Edinburgh Festival, 2008

More information on everything can be had on Sankofa's website:

Sankofa African Bar e Restaurante

Friday Nights

What: Bossa Nova 
Where: Aconchego da Zuzu, in the neighborhood of Garcia (fim de linha), at Rua Quintino Bocaiúva, 18 
What Time: 9:30 p.m. 
Telephones: 3331-5074 and 3331-8149 
Cover: 10 reais

What: DJs, playing blues, soul, samba, acid jazz...
Where: The Borracharia (tire-fixing place), on Rua Cons. Pedro Luiz at101 A, in Rio Vermelho 
What Time: late
Telephone: 9142-0456
Cover: 15 reais for men, 10 for not.

What: Samba to live music at Nego Fua's Bar Galícia.  Inside this bar there's a sign hanging on the wall, a photograph of which is reproduced below...

 
Tough (Nice) Guy and more...

For those of you who don't read Portuguese, the sign reads:

"The community of Maciel - Pelourinho reveres its hero, tough guy and big f***er, Black Fua, the "Rooster of Maciel". Fua (right), ex-professional boxer and a survivor of multiple street fights involving knives and guns (and with the scars to prove it) is actually a very agreeable fellow!

Where: At the corner of Rua João de Deus and Rua J. Castro Rabelo, in Pelourinho
What Time: From 10 p.m. until 2 a.m.
Entrance: Free
Notes: This bar gets a local (which is to say poor people) crowd and is highly animated, with excellent samba (provided by band Caxambu and its leader Gordinho; Note: As of late Gordinho and several other members of the band haven't been there, and their replacements aren't nearly as good...don't know if this is a permanent situation or not but I'll find out). It gets v-e-r-y packed later on, with people practically falling out the doors, and the ambience of the place always reminds me of (this is for Americans who weren't born yesterday) the painting that used to come up at the end of the Good Times TV show. Don't be offended if I say that it ain't for your average tourist! Fua's wife Morena sells churrascos (kebabs) on the corner.

Saturday Nights

What: Afro-Bahian Music and Drumming
Exactly What: Bloco afro Ilê Aiyé 
Where: Ladeira do Curuzu, 197, in Liberdade 
What Time: 10 p.m. 
Telephones: 3256-1013 and 3388-4969
Entrance: 30 reais

What: Chorinho & MPB (Música Popular Brasileira) 
Where: Aconchego da Zuzu, in the neighborhood of Garcia (fim de linha), at Rua Quintino Bocaiúva, 18 
What Time: 9:30 p.m. 
Telephones: 3331-5074 and 3331-8149 
Cover: 5 reais

Sunday Afternoons

What: MPB (Música Popular Brasileira) and samba 
Where: Aconchego da Zuzu, in the neighborhood of Garcia (fim de linha), at Rua Quintino Bocaiúva, 18 
What Time: From 1 p.m. 
Telephones: 3331-5074 and 3331-8149 
Cover: 5 reais

Sunday Nights

What: Afoxé-based dance music 
Where: Filhos de Gandhy headquarters in Pelourinho on Rua Gregório de Mattos (more on the Filhos de Gandhy here...)
What Time: From 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. 
Entrance: Free
Notes: Very cool and very cultural.  The Filhos de Gandhy headquarters has three floors...an entrance and administrative floor, a lower floor with table and access to food and drinks, and a still lower floor with a stage.  To see what the lower floor looks like on Sunday afternoons, go there, or go here...).

What: Olodum 
Where: Pelourinho's Praça Pedro Arcanjo 
What Time:
Entrance: 20 reais (this price is highly variable)

What: Afoxé 
Where: Filhos de Korin Efan headquarters on Ladeira do Passo, 26, in Carmo 
What Time: From 6:30 p.m. to midnight 
Entrance: Free
Telephone: 3321-3210 
Notes: Korin Efan is an afoxé, and their headquarters is in the leftover hulk of a building in the Centro Histórico, where they've been for years.  The effect is of authentic old Bahia, which stands to reason because that's exactly what it is!  The music is candomblé-style, and in keeping with the theme the inside walls (the ceiling is open air) are lined with large painted images of the orixás.  The dancing as well is right out of a house of candomblé.  The percussion is excellent and the singing unstudied but moving, the only downside being the volume of the voice amplification -- more overwhelming than necessary.  This is, nevertheless, a fascinating stop for people whose taste runs to the cultural and exotic.  Beer and drinks are sold on the premises.  Axé!


Alain Zamrini's Furnished Apartments in Salvador Bahia.

Daniel Blumenthal's Furnished Apartments in Salvador Bahia.

Carnival in Salvador Bahia!