What's On in Salvador de Bahia
What's on In Salvador and Environs
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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.
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!
Jequitiba'r 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 | 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).
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).
Good regional food, including moquecas and maniçoba, etc., at very reasonable prices.
À Proa 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.
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
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.
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.
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
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!
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
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.
Where: Rua João de Deus, 22, in Pelourinho
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)!
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.
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.
What: Benção ("Blessing")
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!)
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.
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
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!
More information on everything can be had on Sankofa's website:
What: Bossa Nova
What: DJs, playing blues, soul, samba, acid jazz...
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...
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: Afro-Bahian Music and Drumming
What: Chorinho & MPB (Música Popular Brasileira)
What: MPB (Música Popular Brasileira) and samba
What: Afoxé-based dance music
Alain Zamrini's Furnished Apartments in Salvador Bahia.
Daniel Blumenthal's Furnished Apartments in Salvador Bahia.
|Carnival in Salvador Bahia!|